Get a good workout on this trail that climbs to a summit with views of the south Cascade range. Continue on from the viewpoint to make it a longer hike, continuing down into deep forest to the south trailhead.
The Monte Cristo Range in the southeast corner of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a hidden gem. Bordering Washington DNR land to the east, the Monte Cristos encircle the headwaters of the Little White Salmon River on the west and overlook the White Salmon River valley to the east. It is a transition zone between westside and eastside forests, biologically rich with a diversity of wildflowers.
From the parking area, the trail climbs steeply through woods for about a half-mile before reaching the first flower-filled meadow and a view of Mount Hood to the south. Switchback up and back into the woods before emerging on the summit ridge and merging with an old jeep track (long closed to vehicles). Head north for about a mile through meadows and woods to a view of Mount Adams to the northeast. The top of Mount St. Helens is visible above Little Huckleberry Mountain to the west.
The trail then plunges steeply down (about 800 feet of elevation loss) to a north trailhead on Forest Road 1840 that is also the south trailhead for the Monte Cristo Trail.