Quartz Peak Trail, Rainbow Valley (Sierra Estrella Wilderness)

  • December 21, 2013 · 8:00 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

  • Distance: 6 miles - Out-and-Back;
  • Elevation Gain: 2,472 ft
  • Hike Time: ~4 Hours
  • Difficulty: DIFFICULT
  • More Info, including map

GENERAL INFORMATION: Quartz Peak Trail, in the 14,400-acre Sierra Estrella Wilderness, leads visitors from the floor of Rainbow Valley (elevation 1,550 feet) to the summit ridge of the Sierra Estrella at Quartz Peak (elevation 4,052 feet) in just 3 miles. Along the way, visitors are treated to a variety of Sonoran Desert plants and wildlife, scenic vistas, and evidence of the area's volcanic history. The views from the summit are spectacular--to the west is a dramatic panorama of rugged mountain ranges and desert plains, and to the east metropolitan Phoenix unfolds over the valley of the lower Salt River.

Quartz Peak Trail is extremely steep and difficult to follow in places. This is a hike for experienced and well-conditioned hikers only! The trail begins at Quartz Peak Trailhead reached by following an unpaved road; sandy and rutted in places so High Clearance vehicle is recommended (my Subie Forester had no trouble getting there in the dry).

The first quarter mile or so from the TH is a gentle uphill climb up an old jeep road, which then becomes quite steep: ~2500 feet climb in less than 3 miles.  Compare this to the Bright Angel Trail which is a 3000ft climb in 4.5 miles from Indian Garden to the rim.

It's a steep, rocky climb to the end of the trail (which does not extend to the summit--the final 1/4 mile to Quartz Peak is a scramble over boulder and talus slopes that requires careful footing). Quartz Peak is a point on the spine of the Sierra Estrella capped with an outcrop of white quartz.

We'll take a well-earned break at the top and take in the wonderful views before heading back down.

Wear sturdy shoes, and bring plenty of water (3+ liters).

Disclaimer: I have never made it to the very top of this peak, so an adventure...

FACILITIES: A restroom and picnic table are located at the trailhead.  No water.

CARPOOL: We will carpool at the Safeway at Estrella Parkway and Van Buren Street (just south of I10) to consolidate into high clearance vehicles. leaving there at 8am, and head up the Trailhead.  Please let us know in the response if you have a High Clearance vehicle we can use to get fellow hikers to the Trailhead, and how many seat belts (including the driver's) you have so I can make sure beforehand that we have enough for transportation.

Directions to TH: West of Phoenix on I10, exit Estrella Parkway.  Drive south 8.3 miles then right onto Elliot Road.  After 2.6 miles go left on Rainbow Valley Road and follow south 9.3 miles to Riggs Road.  Turn left and follow Riggs Rd 4 miles to intersection with Bullard Ave.  Turn left, then immediately right onto dirt road under telephone poles.  Follow dirt road east 5.3 miles (some parts narrow and sandy).  At end of the road look for small "Trail" sign and turn right, under power lines for 1.9 miles.  Turn left at another "Trail" sign and drive 1.9 miles to trailhead. Sections of this road are rough and sandy, crossing several washes.  High clearance vehicles strongly advised.

 

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  • Casey

    Tough

    December 21, 2013

  • Christina

    Thank you Sudhakar for a very fun ride!

    December 21, 2013

  • Jennifer

    AMAZING! Thanks for leading Robert! The 4-wheeling was an added bonus! Thanks Sudhakar!

    December 21, 2013

  • Lisa

    Thanks Robert - one hike off my very small bucket list.

    December 21, 2013

  • Christina

    beautiful, unique and challenging at the same time

    1 · December 21, 2013

  • Robert K.

    CONGRATULATIONS to everyone - we all made it to the top. Despite an exciting drive to an from the trailhead, the weather was perfect, great hike, and a fantastic group of people. Thanks everyone for making this a wonderful hike!

    2 · December 21, 2013

  • Gloria T.

    I did that trail last weekend so I.May sit this one out ...

    December 20, 2013

  • Robert K.

    Looks like the weather will be OK tomorrow morning, so we should be fine even if the trail is a bit muddy.
    My only concern is getting to the trailhead - the road will also be muddy!
    My Plan B would be to go to the Estrella Mountain Regional Park and do a ~6 mile loop there: Rainbow Valley Trail/Toothaker Trail Loop. See http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/estrella/pdf/2012/estrella-8x11-close-up-3d.pdf

    December 20, 2013

  • Robert K.

    Working in a Plan B for tomorrow just in case! Same carpool location. Same time. Stay tuned....

    December 20, 2013

  • Robert K.

    If everyone turns up, we will have enough seats to get everyone to the TH.

    December 20, 2013

    • Lisa

      I am still coming with my +1 and high clearance vehicle!

      December 20, 2013

    • Robert K.

      Yeah:-D

      December 20, 2013

  • Agnes

    Hopefully I will make it next time.

    December 20, 2013

  • George

    Looking forward to this hike! I don't have a high clearance vehicle -- does anybody who does have a spot open?

    December 19, 2013

  • Jennifer

    Robert- Is this the correct address for the carpool?

    440 N Estrella Parkway Goodyear, AZ 85338

    December 16, 2013

    • Jennifer

      lisa-I emailed Robert this same question. No reply yet

      December 19, 2013

    • Christina

      Jennifer, thank you much for providing the street address of the car pool location. See you soon!

      December 19, 2013

  • Robert K.

    Sorry for any confusion. The meet time is 8am at the Car Pool location

    December 19, 2013

  • Gina

    I am sorry to pull out but holiday plans caused a conflict. Hope all have a great time and someone else fills the spot.

    December 19, 2013

  • Cary Mc D.

    Hi Robert..Myself and fellow hiker will be coming from the Chandler area..is there another place we could maybe meet you? I believe I accessed the trailhead road coming in from Maricopa my only other attempt....I thought if there were some other E. Valley folks, we could carpool from out that way...if not, no big deal.

    December 16, 2013

    • Robert K.

      Cary, to help with the car-pooling logistics, it will certainly help if everyone meets at the carpool spot and not the TH. Also, I've never driven in from the Maricopa side so don't know the condition of the road. I seem to remember someone telling me that it was NOT the preferred way of getting to the TH.

      December 17, 2013

  • Gloria T.

    On my bucketlist !!!!

    December 16, 2013

  • Christa J

    Not sure how or why I got on the wait list today, but, work schedule does not allow.

    December 15, 2013

  • John J

    I have to work....have fun everyone!

    December 12, 2013

  • Robert K.

    Thanks

    December 5, 2013

  • Sudhakar

    5 Seat Belts. Four can travel in relative comfort.

    1 · December 5, 2013

  • Sudhakar

    I got high clearnance vehicle. I can drive.

    December 5, 2013

  • Robert K.

    All, thanks for all your responses to the "High Clearance Vehicle" question. I have moved folks from 'Waiting' to 'Yes' based on the availability. When someone else offers to drive, I can move more people off the Waiting List.
    Stay tuned for updates...

    November 25, 2013

  • Scott

    Bummer! I forgot that I already made plans for this day. The Estrellas elude me again. Have fun, Mixers!

    November 25, 2013

  • Cary Mc D.

    I made an attempt just to GET to the trailhead for this hike once before and got stuck! That peak has been on my local hike bucket list since I arrived in AZ ten years ago...so GLAD to have a shot at it again!

    November 16, 2013

    • Cary Mc D.

      it's an extended cab...so three in back and one other in the co-pilot seat. But I'm hoping to NOT be driving thru boulders and brush? It's not an off-road-er!

      November 21, 2013

    • Robert K.

      No bushwacking required!

      November 21, 2013

  • Jennifer

    Robert- I do not have a high clearance vehicle. :-(

    November 21, 2013

  • Lisa

    I have a hyundai tucson which is high clearance. But if it is a really rough rode i wont take my car. I took it to devils bridge and dont want to do something that bad again.

    November 20, 2013

    • Paul

      the road isn't that bad, when i was there last another hiker made it there with his Honda Accord

      November 21, 2013

  • Christina

    HI Robert, I am on the waiting list and my car is a regular sedan.

    November 20, 2013

  • Paul

    I have summited Quartz Peak several times,, the last 1/2 mile is bouldering and the last 300 feet is more difficult bouldering,, but my dog even made it on top

    November 18, 2013

  • Lisa

    Why is it $10 per person? Or is that a gas fee?

    November 15, 2013

    • Robert K.

      I had originally estimated that, but have now decided it's better for each driver to negotiate with his/her passengers on a suitable amount! Now removed.

      November 15, 2013

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