Samwise staircase LbNA # 16225 (ARCHIVED)
|Placed Date||Jul 2 2005|
You can do this one along with the “Grinding Stone” letterbox.
This letterbox is located in the Stebbins/Cold Canyon Reserve west of Winters. The reserve is owned by the University of California, and is open to the public.
From the 505 Winters exit, drive west (on Road 128, or Covell, if coming from Davis) to the stop sign in the town of Winters. (Down this street to the right is downtown, with several great places to eat.) Passing straight through the intersection, continue west for 9 miles (the road starts to twist and turn as it enters the hills). After passing a trailer park/resort, you cross Putah Creek and ascend southward. After a quarter mile or so, there is a parking area on the right, just before the road takes a big right turn. Park here. Cross the road (be careful!) to reach the trailhead.
Walk up this (easy) trail about a mile to the “Homestead”, the remains of a farm where they once made goat cheese. At the far end of this clearing, there is a fork in the trail (at signpost #31). Take the right fork, up a few stairs. Continue on for about a half mile to the base of a long set of stairs (“Samwise staircase”). There are several sets of stairs earlier, but none have more than ten stairs in them. At the big staircase, start counting stairs. They come in large and small groups, separated by more level bits of trail. You are looking for stair #100. As you will see, it is OK if your count is off by a few stairs. At stair #100, look for a broad but thin stone slab a couple of feet left of the trail. Under this is the Letterbox. Keep an eye out for poison oak, both along the trail, and at the site of this letterbox.
At this point, you can either return to the car the way you came (it’s all downhill!), or continue up (you are more than half way up the stairs) to the top of the ridge, with wonderful views of Lake Berryessa to the west and the Central Valley to the east. The trail runs the length of this ridge northward (take care if traveling with little ones, as there are a few exposed bits), with great vistas all the way. At the north end, it drops back to your car (the first quarter mile is steep, and slippery when wet). Have a great time!