Quartz Peak Sierra Estrella Wilderness

Quartz Peak

TRAIL STATS

Mileage: 5.6
Elevation gain: 2610 feet
Time to complete: 4-6 hours
Stars: ★★★★½
Difficulty: 3/5 (Ratings explained)
Steady incline, some scrambling

If you’ve ever wondered whether there’s anything worth hiking in the Sierra Estrella Wilderness, the answer is unequivocally, YES. The aptly named Quartz Peak is unique among the surrounding peaks because it is composed almost entirely of the most beautiful, sparkly quartz that creates a striking contrast against the blue sky. The trail is an unrelenting uphill climb, and the road is sandy and requires a 4×4 vehicle, but the reward is looking down on the sprawling metropolis of Phoenix while feeling like you’re a million miles away.


Trail Description

Did the description of the road freak you out? Were you imagining bringing a shovel and a sleeping bag because you thought for sure you wouldn’t make it?

Good news. It’s not that bad. I mean, it does have some deep sand where it crosses washes, and 4-wheel-drive is definitely advised, but the terrain was basically flat, and the road was not nearly as narrow as some reviews had us believe.

So go. And not just because of that, but because it’s so much more amazing in person than can be captured in photos or described here. But I’ll try.

Quartz Peak Trailhead

The trailhead has a nice dirt parking area with a pit toilet and informational signs. The signs will tell you that the trail doesn’t go to the summit, and while it may technically be true, there’s enough of a trail to get you all the way there. Promise.

Quartz Peak Trail

The start of the trail is flat, but don’t be getting too comfortable. Soon enough, you’ll be going up, and you won’t stop going up until you get to the peak.

Can you see the white peak up there?

You’ll roughly follow a ridgeline all the way up to the peak, making for a surprisingly interesting trail and great views the whole way.

Looking down the trail on the ridgeline

No, that’s not broken glass glittering on the trail. It’s mica, and it makes everything feel a little bit magical. What is this place so close to South Mountain, yet so far away?

After around two miles, the trail does get a little harder to follow in spots, but if you look around a bit, you’ll find it again because it’s fairly well-worn and there are a lot of cairns.

The peak comes into view early, but it doesn’t look that remarkable. Sure, it’s noticeably white, but who’s to say it’s not a bird’s roost covered in poop?

Quartz Peak

Just you wait. As you get closer, the quartz becomes more frequent, the mica more abundant, and the scrambling begins. It’s a beautiful journey, and it’ll be worth it.

I’m telling you, except I can’t really tell you because words aren’t enough. It’s going to blow you away.

And if it doesn’t, you need a new hobby.

Summit of Quartz Peak

Take time with the details. Get yourself multiple perspectives. Notice the contrasting colors. You’re in a special place. Take it all in, and let yourself be blown away.


Map & Directions

Location Sierra Estrella Wilderness, Phoenix, Arizona

The trailhead can be reached from Goodyear or Maricopa. Your best bet is to Google Quartz Peak Trailhead. That’ll get you almost there. Google has a waypoint for the turnoff, but it apparently doesn’t know about the road. When you get to the turnoff, there’s a small sign pointing to the trailhead.

Fees/Passes None

Trailhead Facilities Pit toilets

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Disclaimer Outdoor activities have inherent risk, and we will not be able to tell you all the risks you may face. You are responsible for your own safety, so prepare as well as you can and know your limits. Follow this guide at your own risk. And have fun!


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