The Golden Stairway … to the Golden Fleece
Far from any place anyone might even consider a place, ‘The Golden Stairway,’ is an old, lonely sheep driveway (trail) nestled in the backwoods of Conconully. While ‘sheep driveway’ may not sound like the most appealing place to visit, the quadrupeds are long gone and the ghostly, silver forest and surprisingly lush meadows hold a charm that many Washington trail users have yet to discover.
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Activity: hiking, trail running, horseback riding
Nearest Town: Conconully
Skill: 1 (beginner)
Fitness: 2 (intermediate)
Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2100 feet
Best Seasons: June through October. Early July is the best season for wildflower viewing
Access: When driving into Conconully from Okanogan, turn left immediately after the State Park onto Broadway Street, which becomes County Road 2017. Follow it for 3 miles to intersection with FR 42 and FR 37. Turn right onto FR 37. Stay on this paved road for 4 to 5 miles before turning left onto FR Spur 400. In 0.8 miles bear left onto FR Spur 420, signed for Golden Stairway. Avoiding all spurs, continue on this road for 2 miles to the road’s end and trailhead. Low clearance vehicles use caution.
Trip Instructions: Immediately descend to cross shallow Salmon Creek. Soon intersect a logging road. Though going right may be the obvious choice, turn left (west) and walk through a grassy meadow to a cattle gate (be sure to close it!). Now on true trail, ascend very gently through forest scorched by the legendary 2006 Tripod Fire. Cross Jim Creek, and Salmon Creek once again shortly after that. Now let the climbing commence – ascending at a grade that is steep (but never quite too steep), enjoy the forest spared by the fire and the meadows shortly thereafter. Muckamuck Mountain is the rounded hill to the north. For those interested in the flora, lupine, columbine, and paintbrush dominate in July.
After 3 miles comes the Golden Fleece — an anticlimactic end of the actual Golden Stairway at a ridgetop junction. This is like a stairway to nowhere! For the long views you’re probably interested in, take the right spur heading toward Baldy Pass and walk north along the ridge to reach the top of a knoll at about the 4-mile mark. This is a perfect place to call it half a day (you gotta get back, you know) and enjoy the views of Conconully below and the Okanogan beyond.
Allowed (or not): Hikers, horses, mountain bikes, and motorcycles are all allowed, although you probably won’t encounter any of the above.
Land Ownership: Okanogan National Forest
Fees/Permits: None required as of July 2013
Trip Reporter: Matthew Tangeman, July 2013.
Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Do no damage and pick up trash left by others.
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.
This post was originally published on 9/10/16.