Monte Cristo has been one of those hikes over the years that I find a reason to take just about every year. Even if the goal is to explore the areas around the town, I seem to go through it at least once every summer.
Sam and I arrived early to get a head start on everyone else and I was pleasantly surprised that we didn't actually see a single other soul in the parking area. In wouldn't be until we reached the town that we actually saw two other living souls. A very pleasant rarity for any area on Mt Loop Highway.
The Log Crossing
We decided to take the old trail (as opposed to the new road that has been built) and I would say that it is in surprisingly good condition for the time of year. There is no snow anywhere and even the muddy parts of the trail really didn't bother us. Even the log crossing, despite the fact that it had been raining , was easy to get past.
As usual the whole trail up to the town site is quite pleasurable and well graded. Depending on whether or not the 8 miles is too much, this trail is always a good option for the whole family. The only thing you might want to consider is taking the New Road if you think the log crossing might be too much for some in the group.
If you want to take the new road, and avoid the log crossing, park at Barlow Pass as usual. Walk down Mt Loop Highway until you cross the river on a cement bridge (~3/4 Mile). Just after the bridge on your right you will see the road complete with gate across it. Pass the gate and just follow the road all the way to the town site.