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
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.
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.
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.
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
Driving Directions to the Trailhead
Quartz Peak Hiking Resources
- Bureau of Land Management’s web page with trail info.
- Bring plenty of water, as none is available at the trailhead.
- Carry the 10 Essentials.
- Pack it in. Pack it out. Follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles.
Arizona Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge – Winter Edition
This 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!