The Hike to Melmont is Great but May not Be What You’re Expecting
Where the heck is Melmont, anyway?
Every single group I came across on my hike asked me some variation of that question. I was never able to answer. I just asked the question in return.
Looking back after having returned and done some research, I realize that we were all in the midst of Melmont as we asked where it was. We just didn’t realize it.
I say none of this to deter anyone from going there. I plan on going back. It’s a great trail. Beautiful. Quiet. Humming with history and nature.
Just know this beforehand: there is no grand, dramatic destination. No distinct town waiting there in the woods to be discovered. You aren’t going to turn a corner and find yourself looking at the clearly defined perimeter of an old mining town busy with ghosts.
It’s still pretty cool, though.
The Foothills Trail to Melmont
The trail to and through Melmont is named the Foothills Trail. It’s maintained by the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition.
There are at least three entry points onto the Foothills Trail. All three are clustered fairly close together along the side of Washington State Route 165 south of the town of Carbonado, Washington.
The spot I used was exactly 1 mile south of Carbonado. From 165, you can clearly see the sign I have in a picture up above.
If you’re traveling south through Carbonado, the sign will be on your right. If you’re going north, it will be on your left.
Remnants of Melmont are Scattered Along the Trail
The first clearly defined Melmont artifact I found was a retaining wall. The view I show up above is the view you get after you walk down the slope off the trail.
From the trail itself you’ll see some of the stonework wall, but if you want to get a really good look at it you have to walk down the hill. The slope is very steep, and the footing can be slick. This is especially true during rainy season.
Beyond the wall is another old building that you’ll see just off the trail. Another blog claims this was a dynamite storage shack. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but Visit Rainier is a good site so I assume it is.
There is also an old schoolhouse up the trail, but keep in mind that it looks basically like the dynamite shack above. It’s not so nicely maintained that it immediately resembles any kind of building in particular.
Great Trail, Know What You’re Getting Into Before Making the Drive to Melmont
I love this trail. I can’t wait to go back again. However, I do wish that the other blogs and sites were clearer about the fact that Melmont is not a big centralized ghost town. It’s a (very) few buildings nestled in the woods off the side of the Foothills Trail.
So, in my opinion, this is a great trail for hiking and a great trail for running. It my also be a great trail for camping (though I don’t know the legality of it). But, it’s not a great trail for seeing a ghost town or a mining town.
In terms of humanmade artifacts, I actually enjoyed the Fairfax Bridge most of all. It’s a historic site that looks really interesting from the trail trail that runs underneath it. I tried to capture the “really interestingness” in the photo below.
I’m a writer, not a photographer, so forgive the poor lighting. I’ll be adding this skill of photography to my repertoire soon.
By all Means, Go to Melmont
Hike the Foothills Trail. Enjoy the pieces of Melmont mining town. Absorb that beautiful walk and the countryside surrounding it.
Just know before you go that the town may not be what you’re envisioning or expecting when you hear “ghost town.” You may find yourself on the trail asking, “Where the heck is the town of Melmont?”
Chances are, when you ask that question, you’ll be standing right in the middle of it.
Happy Nomadding, friends!