Monte Cristo, Mt. Baker National Forest-Snoqualmie Trip Report
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May 12, 2007
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John is an avid hiker, spending a goodly portion of his time up in the hills, or sitting in front of a computer. Either way, most of what finds his eye is green, or blue, - organic, or lcd. John likes this website, hopes you do too, and invites you to write a review of a couple hikes you've done!
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I live in Federal Way, WA and I enjoy getting out into the great outdoors and hiking and would someday like to make it to the top of Mt. Rainier. When I can't get outside, I'm the IS manager at a marketing firm in Kent.
Directions: From Seattle take I-5 North to Exit 194. Follow Highway 2 East for 2.3 miles, stay in left lane, go to Lake Stevens Highway 204 East, in 2.2 miles take left (north) on Highway 9 to Lake Stevens, in 1.7 miles take right (east) on Highway 92 to Granite Falls, in 8.4 miles turn left (north) to Mountain Loop Highway, follow the Highway to milepost 30.5. Park at Barlow Point trail head or on the right side of the road.
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Trail Notes: As some of you may have noticed I have been slacking off on hiking - amazing how work can just become an all encompassing part of your life. So at any event I decided that to heck with it, I am going for a hike today albeit and fairly easy one. My friend Lyle had contacted me earlier in the week about hiking so figuring the snow was still pretty low opted for a valley hike. Not having been to Monte Cristo before it seemed like this would be a nice hike to start the season as it doesn't exactly do a lot of vertical. So we left Seattle around 9 and arrived at the trailhead around 11.
There were several cars at Barlow pass, but didn't see that many people on the hike which was good. The hike is really more of a road walk, but is complicated by a number of obstacles. The first you are likely to encounter is that the road is washed out at about 15 minutes. You can either walk through where the slope has sloughed, or take the overland which is accessed from the wood walkway about 200 feet before the washout. I would recommend the overland, though going through the slough isn't all that bad.
Upon emerging from the washout you follow the road for maybe another ten to fifteen minutes until you come to the largest obstacle of the hike - the bridge across the Sauk river is washed out. You can see from the pictures that what you are crossing are a couple fallen logs over the river. If this makes you queezy you probably are best suited by turning around. Though if you are six feet tall you can steady yourself on two logs the whole way across. Still if you fall you are going to get soaked...and well I am just guessing here, but I think that water is kinda cold.
After crossing the log debris the trail/road continues on the other side of the Sauk river and enters some trees. Surprisingly to me there was still about a foot of snow on the ground, so for the next 20-30 minutes at least for the next week or so you will be walking on slush and post holing a bit. There isn't really anything redeeming about this section of the hike save for a little nature time, which given how absent it has been as of late was welcome in and of itself.
After a while the road starts gaining a little elevation and you will notice a bunch of cabins and do not trespass signs. Early on, I was thinking how screwed these people would be since the road has sustained major damage and was thinking that they probably aren't going to repair it. But as you continue along you will see there are more and more little cabins and eventually this terminates at Monte Christ proper. Here you will find an abundance of little cabins, restroom (though not open), and a bridge over the Sauk River to the town site of Monte Cristo.
Once in Monte Cristo there are several buildings which look to be actively maintained by the National Forest Service. There is also a device formerly used to spin the train which came to Monte Cristo around. As of this writing the whole town site is under two or three feet of snow. One interesting thing was there was some information from the department of Ecology cautioning against water contamination since apparently arsenic among other things was mined here. Also, the information seemed to indicate that some of the cabins along the way were associated with active prospecting - which surprised me.
Lastly, the Monte Cristo town site also serves as a jumping off spot for hikes of the surrounding peaks such as Sloan and Poodle Dog. At this time they are all entirely snow impacted so if you are thinking of this keep in mind it will be all snow going. These hikes look pretty cool and given that the current approach to this area requires a 4.5 mile road hike/walk will probably not bee too traveled. That said, this might be a very nice place to hike out of as things melt out. Something to keep in mind.
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Reviewed By: Dan on Thursday, May 27, 2010 @ 06:22:08 PM
Nice easy hike, a little over 4 miles each way, just a nice long walk. The elevation gain is little, and only two steep hills. Do your research before you go if you want to try to find any old mines as there are no signs pointing the way to them anymore, and it will help you understand the way it used to look. Don't go in the mines and don't drink the water.
Reviewed By: brian cox on Saturday, November 29, 2008 @ 08:14:33 AM
Review: The Monte Cristo trail is very easy, but it is wonderful to have such an easy hike into the town site. We use the town site as a jump off point into the Poodle Dog Pass, Glacier Basin, and Twin Lakes area. In these area's are numerous open mines, and old mining equipment just waiting to be explored. The open shelter before the town site is also a great place to set up camp. Beautiful Area!!!!!!!!
Reviewed By: Joseph Huang on Tuesday, October 21, 2008 @ 02:33:10 PM
Thanks for the informative guide. The grade is easy for most of the hike, except for the obstacle in the front. It's just a lot of walking.
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