register help

Quartz Trail - MSP, AZ

no permit
545 86 2
Guide 86 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
2.6 of 5 by 16
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4.86 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,580 feet
Elevation Gain 1,038 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,105 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.54
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
4  2019-05-27
Lost Dog Sunrise Paradise Loop
10  2018-10-10
Taliesin Trail - MSP
11  2018-05-02 RowdyandMe
21  2017-12-28
Lost Dog Wash to Taliesin Overlook
7  2017-09-23
McDowell Mountain Loop
11  2016-02-22 RowdyandMe
6  2016-02-15 Crzy4AZ
5  2016-02-06
Taliesin Trail - MSP
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author turp182
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 47
Trips 6 map ( 35 miles )
Age 45 ?
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar → Any
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:23pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Great McDowell Wash
by turp182

The Quartz trail and it's fellow connected trails form the beginning of the planned McDowell Sonoran Preserve hiking system.

The trail itself follows a wash through the McDowell Mountain Ranch development for about two miles before entering the actual preserve. These two miles aren't of particular interest, and homes are almost always visible nearby. But it is quiet and not heavily used.

Once out of the neighborhood there a variety of options are available, including a short hike to the Taliesin overlook, a short strenuous climb to a quartz outcropping, and a hike that leads into the McDowells.

The hike into the McDowells is of the most interest to me, as it leads out of civilization and into the heart of the southern McDowells. It's the same direction as the quartz climb, just take left turns at the two intersections and you should end up heading north. Once past the path leading up to the quartz outcropping the trail continues around the quartz mountain into the McDowells. Great views of Thompson peak (the peak is less than a mile away at times), pure serenity, and thick vegetation make this the payoff for me. The trail follows a large open wash that twists and turns near the end. The trail ends at a rock waterfall that's about 10 feet high. There isn't a trail beyond that point and I don't recommend bushwhacking further on (Sonoran Preserve rules prevent that).

As for difficulty, it's pretty easy. It is a steady climb until you turn around, and if you combine the Taliesin overlook with the quartz climb then you add several hundred more feet to the elevation change for more difficulty.

The trails are suited for mountain biking and trail running; most people on the trails are doing those activities.

I recommend this trail near sunset and on cloudy days when rain is threatening. There's nothing like watching the low lying clouds roll over and conceal the peaks and fill in the valleys.

The map in the images doesn't show the full distance the trail goes back.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2004-02-06 turp182
  • MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 1
    area related
    MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 1
  • MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 2
    area related
    MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 2
  • MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 3
    area related
    MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 3
  • MSP - Approved Climbing Areas 2011
    area related
    MSP - Approved Climbing Areas 2011
  • overview map
    area related

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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.

Most recent of 37 deeper Triplog Reviews
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
President's Day - kids out of school - I got a babysitter to be able to have little hike alone in the morning. I did a shuttle "Uber" hike from the house all the way to Lost Dog Wash Trailhead. Took Uber cab back to the house! So much fun.

From the house :next: Paradise trail :next: Quartz trail :next: up to Quartz outcrop :next: up to Taliesin overlook :next: Lost Dog Wash trail :next: called Uber from LDW Trailhead. I think it was $15-20. So fun!

brittle bush around LDW trailhead
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
After nap - did a family hike from the house onto Paradise trail :next: Quartz :next: Taliesin (brief thought of going up to Taliesin overlook but was too late in the day to make it out by sunset) :next: McDowell Mtn Golf club parking lot.

We drove one car to golf club and then started hike from house. I like this method. Sometimes we have dinner at Mesquite Grill after hike - but not tonight. Caroline stopped to journal nature observations a few times. George loves being line leader and using a kid adjusted hiking stick.
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Hiked to the Lookout in the morning. Then home for nap/lunch. At 4:00 - set out from the house (so awesome to leave from front door!) through neighborhood gate to Paradise trail with the kids. Caroline had on her church dress with some random pants and UGG boots.

We stopped to inspect mammalaria cactus and did loud echoes in the tunnel under Paradise Road. Took Quartz trail south to the community park and played on the playground for a while. Then I called Brad to come pick us up.
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
McDowell Loop
My go to area when I need a workout hike or am limited in time.
Lots of loop opportunities from 5 to 30 miles and as much AEG as you can bite off.

Perfect weather with plenty out enjoying the day. East of the ridgeline you rarely see another. I scrambled south off of the Thompson Peak Trail to meet up with the Quartz trail. On the Quartz trail I spooked 3 mule deer that never went more than 40' from me.
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
End of afternoon post-nap hike alone. Went from front door to Paradise to Quartz up to the Taliesin Overlook -- was about 10 minutes before sunset. Hauled it back down and jogged Taliesin trail to the McDowell Golf Club parking lot.

Called Brad to come pick me up. He was at park with the kids. One friend saw me and asked if I needed a ride. Then I accidentally flagged down a random person thinking it was Brad.

Took exactly 1 hour 11 minutes to get to Taliesin overlook from house (same as Bell Pass other direction).

Light at the overlook just incredible - gorgeous.
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
Due to time constraints, stopped at ww th and quartz th. saw a baby red tailed hawk which is a highlight of this trip. It was very curious and kept on following me. :D Also photographed my very first swallow. Saw and photographed 3 northern rough winged swallows. :y:
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
While grandparents were in town for T'giving - - we went on a date hike to Quartz outcrop. Left from front door - through neighborhood gate - Paradise trail to Quartz and up to outcrop. Had lunch and relaxed - then back to Taliesin trail to the McDowell Mountain Golf Club parking lot. Had a car there to take us back home a few miles.

First hike we ever did in MSP was Quartz in 2005.
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Drove to new house with my Dad in town for Caroline's birthday party weekend. Kids wore Georgia Tech outfits for Pops and even busted out old pom poms I saved from games in college. We hiked through neighborhood gate to Paradise and down the hill to the official trail - then through the tunnel and at intersection with Quartz turned right. Got a nice pic of all of us. Then took social spur trail to the McDowell Mountain Ranch Community Center where we had another car parked for shuttle hike. Kids played on the playground for a bit. Then home to old house for a nap - then packed up for super awesome birthday party at The Sugar Bowl in Old Town Scottsdale. Rented out the arcade room and invited all the girls (plus one BFF boy) from her class - attire was princess or fancy dress - all you can eat ice cream and arcade coins. Caroline turned 7 today!

She put out a blue container to collect spare change from all the parents at the party to raise money for the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. She is a little hustler - collected $25 worth of donations at her own party! We asked for sponsorship/pledges for the two of us hiking together later in the month for a hike/bike fundraiser.
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Wanted to do an easy family hike for Labor Day weekend. We did one car at Bell/104th and then other car at MMR community center. Brad and I had big clippers to do MSC Patrol trail maintenance. Following rules and regs from the City to prune back intrusive growth. Brad carried George and he got the tall stuff. I did all the back bending and crouching to cut back overgrowth. The canyon sage was out of control on Paradise trail along wash crossings. I knew from MSC digital patrol on Instagram that trail runners felt Paradise trail was overgrown. Need to go back with bigger clippers to really get all the wash crossings in good shape. But sun was setting and had to get back to the car.

Passing by our future-new-house is pretty darn cool. Can't wait to have Paradise trail as our "backyard". Levee trail is also unbelievably overgrown with creosote on both sides and down the median - will need several people with big clippers to really prune that back - maybe when weather gets better. Posted again to City about the poor condition of Bell/104th St trailhead parking lot. I'm about to go to Lowe's and buy some sand and gravel and get that gutter lip filled in. Summer rains have really made it worse. Will pester construction & maintenance chair at the next MSC event.

Brad went home to watch Auburn game - and I took kids to Twisted Lizard for an intentionally slow dinner. Then to Cream City Cafe for ice cream before home.
Quartz Trail - MSP
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
We finished negotiations on a house that has a property line with Paradise Trail - inspections next week - and although I've hiked it a bunch - Brad has never been on this trail. So I wanted to show him Paradise Trail and our new house from the trail! You can't see the house from the trail but I know about where it is - there's a hill/ridge blocking view. We went up and around a little - saw the blanched shell of a dead desert tortoise. Then back Levee to 104th (two car shuttle). Gorgeous light through clouds at sunset. Then dinner at Mesquite Grille at MMR golf.

Can't wait to move into the new house! Backyard is the Preserve - dream come true! I can do MSC patrol from the patio in the hot tub LOL :lol:

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
101 to Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW), east on FLW. North on Thompson Peak Parkway. East on McDowell Mountain Ranch. Hang a right onto 104th and pull into the parking lot (SW corner of 104th and McDowell Mountain Ranch). Cross 104th, heading south, follow sign to trail. Hang a left to take the trail towards the McDowells.
help comment issue

end of page marker