“Angel's Staircase is a physically demanding, epic loop that takes you far from civilization.
— Tony Locati
Parking Permit Required
Angel's Staircase is a physically demanding, epic loop that takes you far from civilization, so bring plenty of food and water and make sure that you carry tools that you know how to use. The rewards are fantastic views of jagged mountains and into beautiful alpine basins filled with flowers, trees, and small lakes.
"Epic" has been heavily overused, but when it comes to mountain biking the Methow Valley, this word is used more often than not to describe the Angels Staircase
The trail is all singletrack, though the first climb up to Cooney Lake can be dusty and loose as it is shared with motorbikes. While most of the trail is easily climbable, the section between Cooney Lake and the first pass is a good 30 minute hike-a-bike up a steep trail. The suffering is worth it not just for the views, but also because youll ride through some of the most beautiful alpine meadows before climbing the Horsehead Pass and from there the trail is a flowy rip back to the car. The trail here is buff, fast and well-maintained by equestrian clubs.
Need to Know
A bit buggy...bring repellent. This is a high alpine, full day ride. Do not underestimate this ride. Bring plenty of food and water, get an early start and be prepared for all conditions.
This is THE Methow Valley Ride for the serious mountain biker. It requires fitness and an adaptive attitude. The loop reaches altitudes of 8000 feet so being prepared for varying weather anytime of the year is necessary. This is an all singletrack ride that takes a full day, but what a day it is.
To the Trailhead: From Winthrop, head south on Highway 20 through Twisp. At the junction with State Route 153 continue south on SR 153 toward Pateros and Wenatchee. Follow State Route 153 through Carlton and turn right onto the Gold Creek Road about four miles south of Carlton. Follow Gold Creek Road for about a mile and turn right on Forest Service Road #4340. Follow the signs to the Crater Creek Trailhead.
The Ride: Head up the Crater Creek Trail to its intersection with the Eagle Lake Trail
. Bear left onto the Eagle Lake Trail
and follow it to the Martin Creek Trail. Bear left onto the Martin Creek Trail #429
and follow it all the way to Cooney Lake. From the lake take Cooney Lake Trail #434
to the ridgeline above. At the ridgeline, take the trail to the right which leads to an 8000 foot ridgeline a little ways away. On a clear day you can see all the way to Mount Rainier from here.
Continue from this ridgeline and descend the Angels Staircase
down to the Summit Trail
. Turn right on the Summit Trail
and follow it to the Boiling Lake Junction. Turn right and climb up past Boiling Lake and over Horsehead Pass. Continue following the trail down past Eagle Lakes and all the way back to the trailhead.