Monte Cristo Ghost Town Trail

There's plenty of ghost towns in Washington. Monte Cristo is one of them. But to get there, you have to hike 🤷‍♂️

Jul 21, 2020 3 min read
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Just got back from my weekly hike. This one was fairly relaxing, and I’d even say it was more of a walk in a park but with extra steps (and obstacles). The first obstacle was the drive: the trailhead is 1.5 hours away from my house, but it’s an easy and nice drive on a day like this.

…In 1907 the township of Monte Cristo had been abandoned by the miners and eventually turned into a resort of sorts. The recreational enterprise turned out to be more successful than mining operations, and the town survived for a few decades. In 1983, after the Lodge was destroyed by a fire, the town was finally abandoned for good. It stays there for the past almost 40 years as a ghost of itself. Very few original structures from the late 1800 and early 1900 remain on-site, and it’s safe to say that the site now has more recreational than historic value.

Still, it’s a ghost town, and you can only get there by following the old Monte Cristo Road turned into a hiking trail.

The trail goes over Sauk-Suiattle ancestral land, mostly along the Sauk River. The name “Sauk” comes from the Sah-kee-ma-hu — the name of the tribe in Lushootseed, one of the Coast Salish languages native to the Pacific Northwest. The river is ice cold and furious at times, with roaring rapids and cute little waterfalls.

The trail is fairly level and flat with about 790 ft of elevation gain along its 9-mile out-and-back course. Plenty of shade, scenic rest spots, and only a few rough and rocky segments.

The trickiest part is crossing the Sauk early on: the bridge and old road got washed away and the only way to cross is either by fallen trees or ford it. It’s shallow enough to cross in waterproof shoes.

In all honesty, the township itself is underwhelming. Just a few buildings (all of them are “new”), an old mining cart, a railroad turntable, and a few artifacts from the old town. It would be better if the trail was called “Old Monte Cristo Road” to establish proper expectations.


Silvertip Peak (?) says peek-a-boo

Glacier Creek


Monte Cristo


Remains of Monte Cristo

Seventysix Creek

Obligatory lunch by the Seventysix Creek

Seventysix Creek

This is Perry the chipmunk. They were keeping me company over lunch.

Find Perry

Not much left of old Monte Cristo

All in all, a nice relaxing hike perfect for a lazy day-off. It’s worth mentioning that there’s plenty of camping spots and campgrounds along the trail, so I may be checking it out again for a quick overnight someday.