16. Barlow Pass / Monte Cristo – If there was any single reason for the creation of the Mountain Loop, it was the discovery of gold at what became Monte Cristo. While much of the initial heavy equipment came by wagon road from Darrington to the north, the ore needed to be shipped to smelters by railroad. The easiest rail route was perceived to be over the small hump they named Barlow Pass (after the railroad surveyor John Barlow) and along the path of the South Fork of the Stillaguamish River through Granite Falls, then Hartford, then Snohomish, and finally to Everett. A portion of that original railbed is a short walk from the upper parking lot at Barlow, complete with an interpretive sign. Penn Mining Company built a warehouse here for supplies that had been shipped by rail to go to their mine at the far end of Goat Lake. The Forest Service also built a guard station at Barlow Pass as well as a low-altitude lookout about a mile distant. None of those structures remain. It is from here that you go through the gate to the east and begin the relatively flat walk to the site of Monte Cristo. A flourishing gold-mining community in the 1890s, very little is left of the original town. Any of the multiple books written on the subject of Monte Cristo or the Everett and Monte Cristo Railway are fascinating to read, and portray the challenges and thrills of the gold-mining era. The mining, however, was short-lived, the ore not particularly rich, and the rail route chosen turned out to be a maintenance nightmare because of the Robe Canyon. Snowfall was too heavy and the remoteness too great to sustain a year-round population, so the area is now a seasonal playground for visitors enjoying both the history and the natural beauty of the Cascades. Please respect the private properties along the trail and within Monte Cristo, and take care not to disturb any remaining artifacts.