Monte Cristo Trail, WA

My buddy and I took advantage of an unusually warm March Saturday and headed up to the Mountain Loop Highway. The drive along the very low Stilliguamish River which was exposing it’s white, bony rock should have been a sign as we made our way to Barlow Pass. Once there we through on our packs and headed up the valley that shares the Monte Cristo trail and the headwaters of the S. Fork Sauk River.

I carried my new Kokopelli Hornet, and my buddy brought his inflatable SUP. This was our first trip with these setups, so we were excited and ignored the low water in the river. We saw more butterflies than snow patches on the hike up, but the river looked navigable for some long stretches from the trail. After an hour and two miles of hiking, we put in where Weeden Creek merges with the S. Fork Sauk. Above that point was definitely too low….

And to be honest, most of everything below that point on the way back to the road was also too low. We paddled if we were lucky, but we walked, portaged, and climbed over logjams most of the way. Had there been another 100cfs or so, I think it would have been a really nice trip. I’d recommend it with a little more water. The closest gauge according to American Whitewater is on the Main Sauk near the Whitechuck River. That gauge read about 375cfs that day. If you go, be sure there’s more than a trickle, but be aware that there are a number of logjams ranging from one small trunk lying across the river, to a dozen huge trees stacked 10 feet high. Figuring out how to get around those was a welcome change from the walking and dragging of boats though. Ha!

Here are a few pics: