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|AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix SW|
You'll Be Coming Around the Mountain When You Come
Estrella Mountain Regional Park is located about 20 miles west and south of Phoenix in the foothills of the Estrella Mountains. It was established in 1954 with the purchase of 800 acres. Today, the Estrella Park stretches for almost 20,000 acres. It has a wide range of amenities including horseback riding, a rodeo arena, golfing, fishing, baseball diamonds, a 65-acre grass picnic area, and trails for hiking and biking. The park has 12 trails that extend for 33 miles into the Park.
The Rainbow Valley Trail (RVT) starts from the west end of the parking lot near a large board with a map of the area. A few feet past the map you will come to the first of four trail junctures. (All the trails are well signed so there should be no confusion as to which trail you are on. And, if you grab a map of the park trails, you will be able to see how all the trails interconnect and be able to devise your own hike). The RVT continues west past this juncture ascending gradually to a ridge directly in front. At this point, there is another juncture with a trail heading off to the north. The RVT continues west and for about the next two miles wraps itself around the mid-level base of the mountain. The trail will rise and fall gradually during this portion never getting high enough to crest the mountain and only briefly touching the desert floor. As you are following the contours of the mountain you'll notice to the north and west the White Tanks off in the distance. Closer by, is the Estrella Golf Course. And just to the south of the golf course, at the base of the mountain, you'll see what looks to be an old water tank and the foundations of a structure. As you hike along the RVT there is another trail juncture at 0.75. This trail, the Quail Trail, heads off to the north and will pass just to the east of these remnants. At the 1.6 mile mark, the trail will start winding toward the south, still maintaining a decent enough elevation that you can view the desert landscape to the west.
The trail eventually works its way down to a major wash which it has to transverse. However, this will be one of the easiest crossings of a large wash that you'll ever do. The trail has been cut into both sides of the wash for easy entry and exit, no scrambling is needed. At 2.75 miles the RVT intersects with the Dysart Trail. The Dysart Trail is a great trail to take if you are looking to do a hike in the 4-5 mile range. You can do a small loop incorporating this trail along with the Toothaker Trail. However, if you are looking for mileage or you simply want to complete the RVT you need to continue south past the Dysart. For the next 0.75 miles, the trail will do some gradual to mild climbs. Nothing serious, but more than you will have experience before this point. At 3.75 miles you will have reached the highest point on the trail, about 1350 in elevation. From here it's all downhill. Literally. The RVT ends at 4.2 miles where it connects to the Toothaker Trail. This last section of the hike is kind of nice because it is one of the few spots on the trail where you can do a 360 and not see signs of human habitat.
At this point you fave several options. You can return the way you came, as in and out. You can turn south on the Toothaker and head deeper into Estrella Park. Or you can take the Toothaker north. Taking the Toothaker north will take you directly back to the RVT TH for a loop of about 6.3 miles.
There is water at the trailhead on the west side of the rodeo arena, just a few hundred feet away. There are also restrooms there.
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