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Monday, September 18, 2017


Summit of Quartz Mountain
Over its 54-mile course, the Prescott Circle Trail tours some of the most spectacular country in Arizona’s central highland region. The city-circumnavigating route is organized into 10 segments that range from 2.7 to 9.1 miles in length with unique features that transport hikers through shady pine forests, lakeside coves, granite dells, grasslands and juniper scrub.
Summit of Quartz Mountain
But if highpoint vistas are your thing, Segment 4 delivers two juicy side trips: One tops out on an exposed crest with terrific sights while the other explores a solitary quartz-studded knoll. The segment is tethered by two trailheads. The White Spar Road trailhead is near a campground while the Aspen Creek trailhead is hike-in only.  The quickest access to the peaks is via the latter. Begin on Aspen Creek Trail #48 across from the parking area on Copper Basin Road. First up is Wolverton Mountain.
Wolverton Mountain Trail
To get there hike 1.7 miles on Trail #48, pass a gate and make an immediate left at a fork. This unsigned dirt track climbs 0.2-mile and 130 feet to a scenic lookout. The “peak” is just a weathered nub on the edge of a ridgeline, unremarkable except for its views of the Prescott lakes area and the Bradshaw Mountains.
Aspen Creek Trail

Cacti on quartz
To the east, a pyramid-shaped, white-speckled outcropping stands out among swaths of junipers. This is the next destination: Quartz Mountain (a.k.a White Spar).  To get there, descend to the gate, go right onto Wolverton Mountain Trail #9415 and hike 0.8-mile to the Quartz Mountain Trail #9415A turnoff. The 0.2-mile trail leads to a dirt roundabout at the base of the hill. A raceway of rough ATV roads circle and spiral up a jewel-box bluff of clefts and pinnacles.
View from Wolverton Mountain
The maze of deeply-rutted roads is iced with a layer of creamy quartz nuggets laced with bands of pink and black minerals. Agaves, cacti and swaying grasses grow from cracks in massive white embankments that crumble into glinting landslides of beautiful, but worthless gems. The roads reach to roughly 50 feet from the summit and offer great valley and mountain vistas that stretch all the way to Flagstaff, but if you want to get to the top, you’ll need to do some tricky, hand-over-foot scrambling on one of the several paths-of-use that lead to crown of quartz spires. The most direct base-to-summit route is a difficult, 0.2-mile hike with 112 feet of elevation gain. Loose rock and thorny plants can be dangerous, so opt for the paths most travelled. Once done exploring, descend and hike back to Trail #9145 which continues 3.4 miles to its terminus at White Spar Road.
Roads on Quartz Mountain are paved with "gems"
LENGTH: 5.9 miles one-way, 7 miles with summit spurs.
RATING: moderate (difficult with Quartz Mountain summit)
ELEVATION: 5,600’ – 6,704’
WEST: Aspen Creek trailhead:
From Courthouse Square in Prescott, go 1 mile south on Montezuma Street (turns into State Route 89/White Spar Road) and to the light at Copper Basin Road.  Turn right and continue 4.6 miles on Copper Basin Road (turns to good dirt after 1.6 miles) to the Aspen Creek trailhead on the right. The hike begins across the road on Trail 48.
EAST: White Spar Campground trailhead:
From Courthouse Square in Prescott, go 3 miles south on Montezuma Street (turns into State Route 89/White Spar Road) to the parking lot on the left.  Trail access is south of the campground on the west side of SR89.

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