As I’ve mentioned previously, exploring new trails makes me a happy camper. So when I heard about the new-ish gravel road to the ghost town of Monte Cristo, I was eager to take a peek. I didn’t have many details and the road is not yet on any maps, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I knew it had a bit more elevation gain than the old wagon road, but that was about it. I assumed the new road would take me all the way to Monte Cristo, at which point I would pick up the old wagon road on the way back, making a nice little loop.
The new road is accessed by following the Mountain Loop Hwy north from Barlow Pass approximately 1 mile. The new road is the first road on the right after crossing the bridge.
As it turns out, the new road to Monte Cristo is very easy to follow, but it doesn’t take you all the way to Monte Cristo. It spits you out on the old wagon road at approx mile 2. I’ve been to Monte Cristo several times and didn’t really want to run the (somewhat boring) old wagon road in both directions yet again, so I explored Hap’s Hill camp and a couple random side trails, and then headed back to my car. Including these side trips, total distance for this loop was ~6.5 miles and ~450 ft of elevation gain, and all of it is runnable.
I was out on the Mountain Loop a couple weeks ago, when it had been raining hard for several days and all the rivers and creeks were at flood stage. It was interesting to go back on a dryer (but not dry) day and see the difference.
After the Monte Cristo loop, I still needed to log another couple miles, so I stopped by Perry Creek for a quick out-and-back. The first 1 mile of the Perry Creek trail (starting from the Perry/Dickerman parking lot) is in excellent condition. No blow-downs, no snow, and a couple of nice views to be had. Would be a good option for a hike with the kiddos if you want to avoid the crowds at the Ice Caves.
My pics of the views from the Perry Creek trail didn’t turn out, but I stopped by the Big Four picnic area and took this one of Big Four playing peek-a-boo in the morning mist: