Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
160.00 ft (48.77 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
1.00 mi (1.61 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

In the mountains at Golconda Summit just a half-mile hike from a parking turnout near I-80 exit 200 sits a concrete arrow with the remains of a shed that once powered the beacon that helped direct pilots carring mail between Reno and Salt Lake City. 

The Reno to Salt Lake City section was part of a larger San Francisco to Chicago route that postal pilots once used to fly mail across the country. At a time before reliable electronic navigation, a system of concrete arrows were laid along air routes and painted in a bright yellow color, allowing pilots to navigate between airports. With cross-country air mail first being used around 1920, the concrete arrows were laid down, to aid in navigation. Several years later, electronic beacons with flashing time signatures were constructed at the beacons, allowing pilots to fly at night and make round-the-clock mail flights possible.

The arrow and beacon system grew until it peaked with over 500 arrows and beacons placed throughout the United States along different mail flight routes, though with the eventual increase in technology, these beacons were soon rendered obsolete. The arrow and beacon atop Golconda Summit were decommisioned on November 30, 1930. Many of the these arrows were destroyed during World War II so as to prevent them from possibly aiding foreign pilots in traversing the U.S., and since then more have been destroyed due to development and private landowners.

Aside from a couple of nearby radio towers, Golconda Summit remains undeveloped, and the arrow still sits a short hike from a parking area. The quickest route to the arrow follows a doubletrack. This track has become overgrown with grass in places and isn't the clearest track, so a little pre-mapping of the route using an online map may eliminate any confusion along the walk.The hike requires a short bit of climbing up shadeless and rocky terrain, but being only 1 mile out-and-back, it's fairly easy and straightforward. 

Park in the large NDOT gravel pullout on the north side of the exit 200 ramp. After passing through the cattle grate, an immediate left turn will put you on the overgrown doubletrack and in the right direction. There is nothing else at this exit, the nearest amenities of any kind lie some distance either east or west along the freeway. For additional information about the arrow and beacon system, this site offers a great explanation.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Short hike. Wide views.

Cons

Traffic noise.

Trailhead Elevation

5,147.00 ft (1,568.81 m)

Highest point

5,307.00 ft (1,617.57 m)

Net Elevation Gain

160.00 ft (48.77 m)

Features

Big vistas
Historically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

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