Close this search box.

Hiking Quartz Peak in the Sierra Estrella Wilderness

Hiking Quartz Peak

Hiking Quartz Peak

One of the highest points in the Sierra Estrella Wilderness, Quartz Peak offers spectacular views from atop a unique summit block made of white quartz. This challenging trail has beautiful vistas of the Rainbow Valley as it climbs a rugged ridge from the valley floor to the crest of the Sierra Estrella.

Getting to the Trailhead

Trail Details
Summit Elevation: 4,052′
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation gain: 2,400 ft
Dogs: Yes, but may struggle with last quarter mile
When to go: Fall, Winter, Spring
The drive to this trailhead can be challenging. If you are not comfortable driving on unmaintained dirt roads, please do not attempt. Two wheel drive vehicles without high ground clearance regularly make it to this trailhead, but higher clearance does make it safer and easier. I also suggest driving the dirt road section in daylight.

From Phoenix take the I-10 to Exit 124B for AZ-303 Loop S and continue South on S Cotton Tail Ln. When you come to a traffic circle, take the first exit onto Estrella Parkway. Go 4 miles to W Willis Rd and make a right. Go 1.4 miles and make a left onto S Rainbow Valley Rd., and after 5 miles turn left onto W Riggs Rd.

After 4 miles on W Riggs Rd. it will “t” into S. Bullard Ave. Go right onto S. Bullard Ave. and make an immediate left onto the dirt road that follows the powerlines (still considered W Riggs Rd.).

Continue on the sandy dirt road following the “TRAIL” signs east for 5.5 miles to Powerline Rd. and make a right. Go another 2 miles then turn left at the “TRAIL” sign pointing you in that direction.

Go just 2 more miles and you’ll dead-end into the trailhead parking area. There is a pit toilet, but no running water at the trailhead.

Hiking Quartz Peak

From the parking area head northeast up the trail. You’ll pass an information stand and trail register where you can sign in and out. Follow the flat trail marked by cow pies and cairns for about a quarter mile, then it will turn left towards the base of the ridge on your left.

Trail information

At 0.6 mile you’ll reach the top of the first ridge, and at 1.0 mile the second ridge. As the trail climbs it alternates between following the crest of the ridge, and dropping slightly side to side, lacing from notch to notch.

At mile 1.8 the trail becomes more rugged and a little harder to follow, then hits a couple switchbacks and gains the final ridge at mile 2. From here the trail hangs on the left side of the ridge until mile 2.3 where it pops back on top.

At the 2.5 mile mark the trail diminishes, becoming more rocky and slow. You should see some cairns to guide you to the left side of the ridge, then back to the center, then to the right, then centered again where the trail becomes more prominent at mile 2.7.

The clear path does not last. Stay near the crest of the ridge for the final quarter mile to the top. When you get near the summit there are two apparent summit blocks – Quartz is on the left. Complete the final scramble and you are there!

At the top you will be greeted by the biggest chunk of white quartz you’ve ever seen and truly appreciate the name of this peak. To the north is Phoenix, to the west is Little Rainbow Valley and to the east is the Gila River Reservation.

When you are done enjoying the views, return back down the way you came.

Quartz Peak Trail Map & Elevation Profile

Download file: Quartz_Peak_AZ_Hike.gpx

Driving Directions to the Trailhead

Download file: Quartz_Peak_Drive_to_Trailhead.gpx

Quartz Peak Hiking Resources

Arizona Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge – Winter Edition

Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge SeriesThis hike is part of the Arizona Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge – Winter Edition. This self-paced hiking challenge includes six hikes all easily reached from the Phoenix and Tucson area. They are a great way to explore the area, train for bigger adventures, and you’ll be doing good, with a portion of the net proceeds going to support Big City Mountaineers.

The winter challenge runs between November 1st and April 30th.  Be sure to check out the summer challenge, too!


Share the Post:

Related Posts