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Friday, February 20, 2009

QUARTZ RIDGE

QUARTZ RIDGE TRAIL #8 Phoenix Mountains Preserve Meandering in the arid foothills and washes beneath Piestewa Peak, the Quartz Ridge trail leads to great views of the Valley--without a lot of uphill climbing. The jewel of this short but interesting trail in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve is a minivan-size chunk of glistening, white quartz nestled in gully full of stony rubble. The crumbling rocks in the area are among the oldest on earth. Some date back billions of years to the era when our planet was transitioning from a mass of molten lava into solidified landmasses that would eventually become the continents. Flecks of mica imbedded in the decomposing stone act like tiny mirrors bouncing sunlight off the spindly palo verde trees, cactuses and creosote bushes that line the path, which tops out at on a sunny, open ridgeline. There, in the shadow of the second highest peak in Phoenix, a breath-taking panorama of a sprawling desert city melts into the horizon. LENGTH: 5 miles round-trip ELEVATION GAIN: 220 feet RATING: easy-moderate GETTING THERE: From Shea Boulevard in North Phoenix, turn south on 40th Street and continue to the end of the road and the trailhead parking area. The trailhead is open daily from 5 a.m. to sunset. Information: Vist, ci.phoenix.az.us/PARKS/hikphgud.html or call (602) 262-7901

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