The Monte Cristo hike has been one of those over the years that I find a reason to take almost every year. Even if the goal is to explore the areas around the town, I seem to go through it at least once every summer. The ghost town is a good destination though for families and anyone needing an easy hike.
Sam and I arrived early to get a head start on everyone else. Barlow pass where the Monte Cristo hike starts is a busy area. I felt surprised that we didn’t see a single other soul in the parking area. It wouldn’t be until we reached the town that we actually saw two other hikers. A very pleasant rarity for any area on Mt Loop Highway.
We decided to take the old trail to hike to Monte Cristo. I would say that it is in good condition for the time of year. There is no snow anywhere and even the muddy parts of the trail didn’t bother us. The log crossing, despite the fact that it had been raining, was easy to get past.
If you have read about the log crossing and don’t want to face it, the new trail is your other option. From Barlow pass walk down Mountain loop highway a half-mile. When you cross the bridge there is a road on your right. Follow it and it leads right to the old road to hike to Monte Cristo.
As usual the whole trail up to the ghost town is quite pleasurable and well graded. Depending on whether the 8 miles is too much, this trail is always a good option for the whole family.
Many think that the first few buildings you see are the Monte Cristo ghost town. That is not the case. These first few red houses are part of the old train station. If you want to experience the town follow the trail a little further. You will encounter signs explaining history of the mining town, along with more buildings.
None of the peaks in this area should be attempted by anyone without serious skill in scrambling, navigation, weather prediction, rope work, and in some seasons, travel on snow.