Get ready to see your Instagram and Facebook feeds fill up with pictures of a ghost town in the North Cascades.
The Washington Cascade’s most famous “ghost town” will soon be reopening for hikers and backpackers to explore. On March 8th, 2016, the US Forest Service announced that the trail and site of the old mining town will be reopened to the public by the end of May. Located along the South Fork of the Sauk River, Monte Cristo was closed to the public to remove hazardous toxic minerals left behind from the mining boom that occurred in this region over a century ago. With the cleanup nearly complete, the public will once again be able to travel back in time and see a mining boom town in the middle of the wilderness. While the buildings are derelict, Monte Cristo is a great family destination to explore the beauty of the Cascades and the history of the region.
Monte Cristo is considered one of the classic hikes in the state, as it has been a popular destination for hikers, backpackers, bikers and photographers for decades. Located just a few miles past the soon to be reopened Big Four Ice Caves, Monte Cristo had a short life as a mining town, lasting a little more than a decade before mining production stopped in 1907. The mines were built to get lead and silver ore, but low production, funding issues and numerous washouts of the railing cemented the death of this small mountain community. As the miners abandoned the town, a few attempts to turn the region into a tourist destination occurred, but those fell flat. They left behind a lot, including many toxic minerals common with mining practices of that time. While we could go into great detail about the cleanup practice at Monte Cristo, instead we will link to the experts.
Today, the trail to Monte Cristo is simple to follow and must be reminiscent of the journey hundreds of miners took in hopes to find riches in the hills. Weaving through gorgeous terrain along an old gravel road, the trail serves as a time machine, transporting modern adventurers back to a simpler time. One log bridge crossing is all that separates you from seeing an old mining town that was built in the 1890s, and at eight miles round trip, gaining just 700 feet in elevation, you’d have to be crazy to not hike out here as soon as it is reopened. Luckily, you only have to wait until May of 2016 to hike or bike here.
Distance: 8 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain: 700 Feet
For More History of Monte Cristo Click here
All Images by Sean Munson