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Monte Cristo

South Cascades


South Cascades -- Mount Adams Area
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4.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 1000 ft.
Highest Point: 4177 ft.


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Like its neighbor, the nearby Monte Carlo trail, the 4.1 mile-long Monte Cristo trail ventures into the small Monte Cristo Range in the South Cascades between Willard and Trout Lake. From it, hikers see a myriad of wildflowers in the spring, and the occasional views of the South Cascade volcanoes. 

Beginning from the north trailhead, the trail weaves east and then south, traversing deep forests and open balds stocked with a multitude of wildflowers, and eventually following lightly forested ridgeline to the former Monte Cristo Fire Lookout site. As you climb up and down along the ridge, you'll see lovely views of the Little White Salmon drainage, the Indian Heaven peaks on the western horizon with glimpses of the top of Mount St. Helens, Mount Hood to the south and Mount Adams to the north until you reach the summit where there is evidence of an old fire lookout that was built there in 1930. This is a good turnaround point for a 4-mile round trip hike.

The trail continues south, dropping steeply down to the south trailhead to meet the Monte Carlo Trail. There is an option to continue quite a ways further -- more than 7 more miles on the Monte Carlo trail. A variety of exits exist along the way but there are no loop options. Be sure to make time to come back the way you came up.


Monte Cristo

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 45.8919, -121.5741 Open map in new window


South Cascades -- Mount Adams Area

Monte Cristo (#53)

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mount Adams Ranger District

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: South Cascades (Mountaineers - Nelson)

Buy the Green Trail Willard No. 398 map

Getting There

North Trailhead: From Trout Lake, take State Highway 141 north for 3.8 miles. Turn left on Forest Road 86 and follow for about 5 miles to Forest Road 86-080 and the trailhead. Be aware that road intersections may be unsigned. Once on Forest Road 86, take the left turn uphill just past the signed Gifford Pinchot National Forest boundary. Climb a series of switchbacks to the junction with Forest Road 86-080 where a badly weathered sign indicates a left turn. Just past the junction with unsigned Forest Road 071, another badly weathered sign indicates that the trailhead is another one-half mile ahead. At this time, the trailhead sign is missing and the trail is indicated by a couple of pieces of red flagging tied around the post. There is no place to park right at the trailhead: continue another 1/10th mile to a place where you can turnaround and park there or return back down the road 1/10th mile beyond the trailhead to a place where you can park on the road shoulder.

South Trailhead: From State Route 14, turn north on Cook-Underwood Road. Proceed through the small community of Mill A to the intersection with Willard Road. Turn left on Willard Road and continue through the community of Willard and keep straight on Oklahoma Road (Forest Road 18). Turn right on Forest Road 1840 to Forest Road 1840-100 and the trailhead. Limited parking. 


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Monte Cristo

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