Travel Hooray – Arizona Hiking: Quartz Ridge Trail


Downtown Phoenix viewed from Quartz Ridge

for a way to enjoy the desert beauty surrounding Piestewa Peak and get a good
workout without elbow-to-elbow crowds? 
Try the Quartz Ridge 8A trail. 

A massive quartz block on Quartz Ridge trail

Located southeast of the extremely popular Piestewa Peak summit trail in
the Piestewa Peak-Dreamy Draw Trails section of the

Mountains Preserve, trail 8A offers a similar experience in a less congested
slice of the craggy hills.  The 1.7-mile
path traces gullies and foothills below the distinctive 2,608-foot hill that
stand high above the skyline just a few miles north of downtown Phoenix off
State Route 51.

Creosote grows along Quartz Ridge trail

Edgy switchbacks ascend Quartz Ridge

While the
trail may be reached via several connected routes, the 32nd Street
trailhead offers direct access.  Unlike
the summit route which goes straight up, Quartz Ridge is a double-hump
workout.  The trail starts on a wide,
easy grade that parallels a deep, tree-cluttered wash. 

The route makes several wash crossings

While making its mild ascent, the trail
passes by jagged stone outcroppings sprinkled with white quartz nodules that
gradually grow in size and scope until the it meets an enormous ivory boulder
at the base of a ridge where quartz chunks spill downhill like tossed

Phoenix Mountains Preserve trails are well-signed

From this point on, the route
dips through washes and climbs exposed ridges exposing ever-expanding views of
downtown Phoenix and mountain ranges to the south.  About halfway through the hike, a short
segment of tight, edge-hugging switchbacks move trekkers uphill to a scenic
saddle near the highpoint. 

Hike ends at the L.V. Yates trail junction

Here, east
and north Valley vistas come into view and a stone bench beckons hikers to take
a break and enjoy the sights. The trail
then makes a swerving dive into a cliff-bound ravine where saguaro cacti and
blooming shrubs thrive on rugged cliffs and sandy washes. 

Trixis shrubs grow in wash areas

Don’t be a statistic. Heed this advise.

Lumps of quartz stained with orange and ashen
veneers reappear in colorful piles and fields of snowy nuggets.  After one final dip through a water-worn
bend, the trail meets its end in a small, grotto-like area where it intersects
with the L.V. Yates trail. 

North Valley views sen from Quartz Ridge

Strawberry hedgehog cacti add color to the hike

Make this
your turnaround point or consult park maps to customize a longer hike.  Either way, with Valley temperatures rapidly
approaching the century mark, stay safe by paying attention to the city’s “Take
a hike. Do it right.” kiosks posted at trailheads.  While accidents do happen, having to be
hauled off a trail by search and rescue personnel due to heat-related incidents
is easily preventable.

miles up-and-back


1,358 – 1,842 feet (888 feet accumulated elevation change)


Street Trailhead:

6511 E.
Sierra Vista Dr., Phoenix

Hours: 5
a.m. to 7 p.m.

INFO: City
of Phoenix

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