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Monte Carlo via Middle Fork Grove Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Mt. Adams from Monte Carlo (bobcat)
In the Middle Fork Grove (bobcat)
Wildflower inspection, Monte Carlo (bobcat)
Shrubby penstemon (Penstemon fruticosus), Monte Carlo (bobcat)
The trail route to Monte Carlo from the Buck Creek No. 2 Trailhead - new logging roads not shown (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Caltopo
  • Start point: Buck Creek No. 2 TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point: Monte Carlo
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 6.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1860 feet
  • High Point: 4,045 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Mid-spring through Fall
  • Family Friendly: No
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

Monte Carlo, a mile-long ridge in the Monte Cristo Range, can be accessed from several directions and yet remains relatively unknown to the hiking public. This route, keeping mainly to Washington Department of Resources land, involves negotiating clearcuts and secondary forest but also a stand of magnificent old-growth trees at the Middle Fork Grove. The slopes and ridge of Monte Carlo itself offer a brilliant wildflower display in late spring, and viewpoints along the way offer glimpses of Cascade peaks and the spine of Indian Heaven.

Note: As often seems the case, trails on Washington DNR land excite some controversy because clearcuts seem to take precedence over trail maintenance. A portion of the Buck Creek Trail between the Middle Fork Grove and Road B1500 has been logged recently and the trail is now obscured. Make your way as best you can until trail treads are restored.

The trail heads down from the east side of the trailhead on an old road past a line of boulders. Shortly, it leaves the road and goes into a clearcut. Wind down among vine maples and young cedar, hemlock, larch, and Douglas-fir. Switchback down into the Middle Fork Grove and to a new footbridge over the Middle Fork of Buck Creek, the old one having been destroyed by falling timber. Enter a realm of ancient Douglas-firs in a leafy patch of woods. Wood fern drapes over the creek. Tarry a while to savor this relic stand of quiet giants among the patchwork of clearcuts.

Hike up out of the old growth and cross the end of an old logging road to wind up through a clearcut. Lupine will be blooming here in late spring. There are a few trees left standing here and there, and young Douglas-firs, grand firs and ponderosa pines are coming up. Pass a sign showing you are entering a corner of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Vine maple and huckleberry have taken over from the clearcutting. Currants are also abundant in this open area: red flowering, sticky, prickly, and pioneer gooseberry. At the edge of a Douglas-fir plantation, pass a sign, and then head into the woods. The trail descends where, in spring, different fungi are emerging from the ground. Reach gravel Road B1500, and cross it near the headwaters of the North Fork Buck Creek. The trail descends and then rises to recross the road.

Head up in woods with lots of scrappy blowdown. The trail ascends steeply and switchbacks, then drops through a snowberry thicket before rising steeply again in Douglas-fir/grand fir woods. Reach an open slope that blooms with balsamroot in June. Also in flower at this time are nine-leaf desert parsley, phlox, and paintbrush. There's a magnificent view down to Mount Hood to the south. The trail switchbacks twice on this slope and reenters woods. Pass through a scrubby open area, and then enter young forest of Douglas-fir, grand fir, and noble fir. Finally, reach the Monte Carlo-Buck Creek Trail North Junction at the Monte Carlo Viewpoint. You're now standing at the south end of the mile-long Monte Carlo ridge and have entered the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Here the Buck Creek Trail and a jeep trail descend down Penny Ridge and Eton Ridge respectively (See the Penny Ridge to Monte Carlo Hike). You can see down into the Little White Salmon River valley and across to Little Huckleberry Mountain.

Keep along the crest as the trail undulates through open flower meadows of larkspur, desert parsley, glacier lily, waterleaf, lupine, and blue-eyed Mary. The path heads into dripping forest which continues until you reach the northernmost section of Monte Carlo’s basalt spine, with cairns leading along it to where the trail leads down to the left (It ends at a saddle between Monte Carlo and Monte Cristo). There is a great view of Mount Adams to the north. Also, look west to Little Huckleberry Mountain and northwest to Gifford Peak and Lemei Rock in Indian Heaven. Monte Cristo is ahead to the north.


Regulations or Restrictions, etc.

  • Discover Pass required
  • Share Buck Creek Trail with mountain bikes
  • $2 toll at the Hood River Bridge

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • none

More Links


Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.