Summary: This trail leads you to the summit of Quartz Peak (4,056 ft), which is located in the 14,400-acre Sierra Estrella Wilderness. The trail begins in Rainbow Valley (1,550 ft) and starts out by following an old four-wheel-drive track for approximately 1/4 mile. Look to the left as you hike up the road for a narrow trail ascending the ridge to the north. The trail is steep, poorly marked in places and can be difficult to follow--the final 1/4 mile to Quartz Peak is a scramble over boulder and talus slopes that requires careful footing. The views from the summit are spectacular--to the west is a dramatic panorama of rugged mountain ranges and desert plains, and to the east metropolitan Phoenix unfolds over the valley of the lower Salt River. Quartz Peak is a point on the spine of the Sierra Estrella capped with an outcrop of white quartz.
Trailhead: From Phoenix, take I-10 west to exit 126. Drive south (left) on Estrella Parkway for 8.3 miles and turn right (west) onto Elliot Road. Continue on Elliott Road for 2.6 miles and turn left (south) onto Rainbow Valley Road. Drive 9.3 miles on Rainbow Valley Road to Riggs Road and turn left (east). Proceed on Riggs Road for 3.9 miles to Bullard Avenue. Turn right (south) and then take an immediate left onto an unmarked dirt road that parallels the phone lines. Follow the dirt road 5.3 miles and turn right (south) at the "T" intersection where a tiny sign post points towards a "trail". Continue for another 2 miles and turn left (east) at the 2nd tiny trail sign. Drive another 1.9 miles to the trailhead where you'll find plenty of parking and a nicely-maintained restroom.
Trail Guides for Quartz Peak Trail:
by Bruce Grubbs and Stewart Aitchision (The Globe Pequot Press)
Exploring Arizonas Wild Areas
by Scott S. Warren (The Mountaineers)
Best Seasons: Winter,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: BLM Phoenix Field Office (623) 580-5500
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Rob Brinkerhoff, who has posted 33 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Doug on 10/25/2014
I have driven this road in my Toyota pickup (2wd) but since the storms and flooding of Sept and Oct of 2014 what was hard pack is not deep sand. Now I have to take my Jeep. If you attempt the route in a 2wd, bring equipment for self rescue and a possible bivy.
Reviewed by Gary on 7/9/2012
First of all, the directions provided were very good. Took me right to the trailhead. It is a steep, rocky, desert trail that for me was easier going up than down. Alot of "rollers & sliders" on the path that made footing on the steep decent a little tricky. The rock hopping near the top was made easier by who ever placed all of the rock cairns along the way. Virtually impossible to lose your way. The view at the top was great, but the beauty of the hike was the giant white quartz boulders on the peak. I've never seen anything like it. Will definately go back (when it's cooler).
Reviewed by VW on 4/27/2012
This was a great hike and a good work out. Great views of the desert. The road in is a little ruff. You definitely want a high clearance vehicle and even four wheel drive for some spots. Did the hike in last week of April and it was getting pretty hot. Recommend the hike for the winter months. Not a fan of the bouldering at the end but the trail was good for the rest of the hike.
Reviewed by LOL on 3/25/2012
Congratulations, Bill, on making everyone in Montana look bad.
Reviewed by Bill on 6/30/2011
Between the ugly panorama and the rednecks I met, Arizona can keep this trail and its people. Give me Montana any day.
Reviewed by Rood on 3/18/2011
Directions are outdated. It's no longer necessary to turn onto Elliot Road, as Estrella Parkway has been pushed through to Willis Road, which intersects with Rainbow Valley Road. March 2011
Reviewed by Riccardo on 12/13/2010
Very nice hike. I've done it in December, 80F max temperature, still, you sweat a lot. Carry at least 2L of water. Views are wonderful all over, and quartz at the top is very peculiar! The dirt road though is nerve breaking if u do not have a high clearance car, better a jeep. I have been stuck 3 times in the sand and had my friends push the car.
Reviewed by DK on 10/28/2010
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Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
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