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Thursday, September 18, 2008


Sierra Estrella Wilderness

Rising out of the Rainbow Valley along a desert ridge, the rugged Quartz Peak trail gains elevation aggressively.  The route hugs a "saw tooth edge" along the spine of the ridge with deep valleys and incredible views on each side.  The first two miles follow an established trail, but after that, only sporadically-placed rock carins indicate the way through boulders, shimmering mica and rough-hewn, metamorphic rock formations. As a rule of thumb, if you think you have lost the trail, just go up.  The path is truly on top of the ridge, and yes, that  means quite a bit of  rock scrambling is required.  Gaining the summit requires negotiating 50-feet of hand-over-foot (non-technical) climbing. An outcropping of snowy-white quartz caps the 4,052-foot apex where views of metro Phoenix and the surrounding desert plains beg to be photographed.
LENGTH:  6 miles out-and-back
RATING:  difficult
ELEVATION:  1,552 - 4,052 feet
GETTING THERE:  NOTE: a hiker reports that on 11-10-2012, construction at the phone line road made for a very rough crossing, however, they got thru okay. 
From Phoenix, take I-10 west to exit 126 and turn left onto Estrella Parkway. Drive 8.3 miles and turn right onto Elliot Road.  Continue 2.6 miles and turn left onto Rainbow Valley Road.  Proceed 9.3 miles to Riggs Road and turn left. Drive another 3.9 miles to Bullard Ave. and turn right and then make an immediate left onto an unmarked dirt road that parallels some phone lines.  Follow the dirt road 5.3 miles and turn right at the "T" intersection where a tiny sign points towards a "trail".  Continue for two miles and turn left at another generic trail sign and drive 1.9 miles to the trailhead.  
FACILITIES:  restrooms

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