Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Tucked away behind Tortilla Flat
A class 3AIII technical canyon lasso loop hike in the Superstition Wilderness behind Tortilla Flat. The approach to Quartz Canyon involves rock hopping up Tortilla Creek and Peters Canyon, and a rugged and steep climb up a drainage to the ridge just northeast of Geronimo Head. Once atop the ridge, Quartz Canyon can be seen below where two rappels of 120 ft. and 100 ft. await. Quartz Canyon exits onto Peters Canyon where you will rock hop downstream towards Tortilla Creek and the trailhead. This is a nice little canyon with a strenuous climb on the approach, but well worth it.
Quartz Canyon is a technical canyon requiring rappelling and down climbing skills. Required gear includes climbing helmet, harness, carabiners, descender, ropes, webbing, rap rings, gloves, and canyoneering shoes with good traction. This canyon can be done with a 200 foot rope and a 200 foot pull cord, 40 feet of webbing and 2 rap rings. Flash flooding is a possibility following the rains so canyoneers must monitor the weather and exercise caution before dropping into this canyon.
From the overflow parking lot on the east side of the town of Tortilla Flat, start hiking on the well-defined use trail on the east end of the parking lot past the gate. This use trail leads to Tortilla Creek after about 10 minutes of hiking. Continue hiking up Tortilla Creek to Peters Canyon, 0.5 miles from the end of the use trail. Veer right off of Tortilla Creek and into Peters Canyon. Continue up Peters Canyon for another 0.65 miles to a steep drainage on the right marked with large white boulders and some slick rock. Hike up the steep drainage where you will climb 1,200 feet in 0.75 miles. Quartz Canyon is located to the south over the cliffs as you are climbing. Climb to the top of the ridge to the southwest and you will be overlooking Quartz Canyon below. The drop-in for the canyon is (33.50880, -111.37704). There may be some water in the canyon but you should stay dry as you make your way to the two rappels. Both rappels are in the final 0.25 miles of the canyon.
The first rappel is a double drop 120 ft. rappel from a knot choke on LDC or from a BFR about 15 ft. back from the edge. The rappel includes a stop about halfway down in a thigh deep pothole normally filled with water during the in-season months. After stopping at the pothole, you'll continue the rappel over the lip with a free hang to the bottom.
You won't hike very far until you reach the second rappel which is a nice 100 ft. descent down a slightly angled wall. You'll use all 100 feet of rope on this one. We anchored off of a BFR several feet back from the edge. Once off the rope, there is a short down climb where you can then gear down.
From the last rappel, you will hike for a few minutes until you exit out to Peters Canyon from Quartz Canyon. Make a sharp left turn down Peters Canyon for 2.25 miles, backtracking the approach in from Tortilla Flat until you reach the use trail and the vehicles.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.