Hike to Glacier Basin

Rate this Adventure 13 miles 2600 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Bryan Carroll

With beautiful views of Columbia and Monte Cristo Peaks, this hike will take you through the historic town of Monte Cristo and up into the basin lined with glaciers.

Start off by traveling down the Mountain Loop Highway, arriving at the Barlow Pass Trailhead. You will walk about 200ft to reach an old gated road. This road will lead you towards Monte Cristo. About 1.5 miles down the road, the road will start to turn into a trail that runs along the river. You will need to find a way to cross the river safely to continue following the road. The way to Monte Cristo is about 4 miles in total.

Once in Monte Cristo, enjoy the sites of the historic town and read the plaques on what used to be located there. As you make your way through town, you'll see a sign for Dumas Street. That is the direction towards Glacier Basin.

Eventually the old roads of Monte Cristo will start to turn into a trail, and at this point the trail will start to climb gradually. You will pop out of the trees to see views of a fairly large waterfall. The trail will take you right up to the top of the waterfall, which makes a nice place for a snack break. After the waterfall, the trail starts to get steeper. This is where the majority of the elevation gain is at.

After the climb, the trail will start to level out and take you through some wetlands. At this point you will already have some partial views of Monte Cristo Peak. Pick your way through the wetlands and you will end up in an area full of rock and scree fields. This is not the basin yet! As you look towards the peak, you can see a mini cliff about 100ft tall with some trees on the top. The basin is just beyond those trees.

There are two routes to take to get around the cliff: Right or left. The right side you have to navigate up a scree slide, but it is only for roughly 100ft in elevation. To the left allows you to follow the creek up, which gives you views of some mini waterfalls. However, the rocks can be wet and makes it difficult to go this way. I would prefer going up the scree field as it takes less time and effort, and it brings you right into the heart of the basin.

Once in the basin, you can go explore around some of the glaciers. Depending on the season you go, some will have created mini ice caves that you can peak into. The glaciers also sit right below Columbia and Monte Cristo Peaks.

Along the trail you may find old mining equipment and mines. I highly recommend not to go into any mines you may find as these could be very unstable. Also, If you see mining equipment in the water, this might not be the best spot to refill water bottles as there could be lead leaching into the water source.

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