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The Best Hikes in Sierra Estrella Wilderness

358 Triplog Reviews in the Sierra Estrella Wilderness
Most recent of 167 deeper Triplog Reviews
5.8 mi • 2,468 ft aeg
My first time hiking In the Estrellas… Quartz Peak was (highly) recommended to me by Kelly from Adventurous Stills. This hike did not disappoint!

I approached from the south via 238 & Maricopa. This route will have you turning north on 92 Ave and traveling on mostly unmaintained dirt roads for almost 10 miles. Would not recommend in anything other than high clearance vehicle… pref 4x4. Arrived at trailhead on Sunday before 8am… three vehicles already there… made out to the Peak in 2 hours. Did not see any other hikers until about 1/4 miles from Peak. Ran into great group from Intel (hola Rick, Helen & Mike!) With 2,500’ elevation gain over only 2.5 miles, this is one long continuous push uphill. However, the trail is fairly clear most of the time and well cairned in sketchier spots. Best of all, the payoff when you get to the top is well worth it… Quartz is surprisingly cool to the touch and the views are outstanding!

Really, really enjoyed this hike and would do it again in a heartbeat. I’m fact, I may take me wife, niece and her fiancé next weekend!

BTW… was 40 degrees when I started hiking and 80 degrees when I finished. Bring layers!!

5.2 mi • 2,494 ft aeg
Hike to the top of Quartz peak, started about 10am and make it back to the car around 4:00pm. My 68 year old dad was with our group. We thought he wasn't going to make it to the top as we made it to the top, a few minutes later he appeared in the rocks below. Yay Dad!! Lots of route finding, carins helped a lot, and crawling over large rocks I would say about 1/2 mile of that.

On our decent my dads legs started to cramp a bit so we took lots of breaks. He wants to do the Grand Canyon soon and this was a really practice for that.
6.1 mi • 2,494 ft aeg
3rd trip up in the last 15 yrs and the drive and hike are pretty much the same. Lots of construction in Estrella, but by the time you reach Elliot, you're in the middle of nowhere and on dirt wash the rest of the way. Drive from Ahwatukee is 1:30 even with the 202. High clearance vehicle is desirable.
Hike up is a constant incline. Started hike at 8:30 AM and had some shade along the way up. There was a slight breeze, which was appreciated, but temps reached mid-upper 90s before we were done.
Met a total of 5 people on the trail, but had the peak to ourselves. The views from the top were awesome, but quite a bit of haze, so no photoset today.

The hedgehog cactus and ocotillos were blooming, but not much else. A couple globemallow and agave, but sparse. Not enough rain this winter
5.2 mi • 2,494 ft aeg
Zane and I enjoyed this hike to the quartz encrusted peak. Zane requested a hard hike and I decided this seemed suitable for a 10 year old with a passion for hiking. We decided to take our husky which was able to hike all of it except the last boulder climb to the white top. The hike was windy and beautiful with no people except the random Japanese tourists hiking via guide to the top.... The hike was as expected up and up and this was our first time to the Sierra Estrellas. The road in from the south was as I read sandy and high clearance 4x4 was engaged.
5.2 mi • 2,550 ft aeg
On Saturday, took a small group of motived scouts up to Quartz Peak. This is one of my favorite hikes because of the challenge it presents, the view from the top, and solitude from the crowds at Camelback and other city hikes. I also find the quartz on top to weirdly fascinating. The hike moved along pretty good, but we didn't get all the way back to the trail head before the heat of the day set in. While certainly nothing that it could be in the summer, it was still plenty warm and that dragged on us it a bit. Fortunately we all had water and I had an ice chest full of cold beverages waiting for us back the TH to cool us off and start the relaxing recovery part. Overall, it was a good day. Everyone had a good time!
5.2 mi • 2,550 ft aeg
Getting to this trail is not the easiest when coming from the south from Maricopa. Initially, we attempted to hike Quartz Peak on 23 March, but couldn't make it along the powerline road as it is too washed out to take a low clearance car (naturally, a Dodge Dart) and I started stinking up the clutch and almost tore a hole in the sidewall of my tires from the slick, sharp rocks trying to get back over the first hill on the entrance to the powerline road. Deciding to abandon Quartz Peak, we hiked Seven Mile Mtn. instead. Afterwards, we went back out to Hwy. 238, down to the landfill, and around the airport. We then found the Quartz Peak trailhead, but by then it was late afternoon.

Driving a manual made it easier for me to creep the car over some of the washed out areas and to keep her going through all the sand. But, the sand is the important part here. Coming around the airport, about 75% of the road is either in a sand wash or on very sandy ground. The first time we went (23 March), it had rained about 2 weeks prior, so there hadn’t yet been a great deal of traffic through the sandy parts. Fast forward to 13 April (3 week later), and the same road around the airport was a lot rougher. You see, everyone with 4wd and high clearance, takes the road quickly (because they can). As a result, the sand loses its compaction from the rain, and the bumps and dips get steeper and deeper. The second time around, I bumped the car bumper a couple times on some of the deeper dips, and the sand was a lot softer beneath my tires. Therefore, it is not impossible to reach the Quartz Peak trail with a low clearance 2wd car, but make sure you are experienced driving on sand, over rough terrain, and know how to dig a car out after it gets stuck; and carry a shovel, and a couple extra gallons of water.

As for the trail, for getting back into hiking after several years of not doing any, this trail was a great reminder of the ass-kicking that is what makes hiking so much fun. The Stats Box on this trail says that a round trip on average takes 3-4 hours. I can definitely see that that as being the case, but since it was our first time back on mountains, my wife and I took quite a bit longer. About 3 hours each way. There were lots of cairns along the trail, which was nice until the second half as we begun to scramble over rocks. The issue is that there are cairns everywhere to the point that there is no single trail up and over the rocks. Therefore, unfortunately, you are left "choosing your own adventure".

Since we were there the whole day, we encountered a total of 6 other pairs of hikers. Several people had brought their dogs on the trail. For that, I'd say make sure your pooch is conditioned for constant sun exposure and climbing over rocks. The hardest part of the trail is at the top, which is when the dogs are the most tired. We saw some people hoisting their dogs halfway up the rocks, hoping the dogs would climb the other half. The dogs attempted to, but you could see how exhausted they were. So again, to emphasize: only bring your dogs if they are not overweight, they are conditioned for the sun, their pads are hardened off to rough ground, and they have experience climbing and jumping over rocks and boulders.

Seating (that's comfortable) on the Quartz peak is limited, but it is certainly very cool to the touch. You get a great view of Seven Mile Mountain, South Mountain, and many others. We were even able to see Picacho Peak (~70 miles as the crow flies)!

Overall, it’s a terrific hike, but it can take a lot out of you if you aren’t conditioned, don’t cover up, and bring plenty of water. We will definitely be doing this trail again, many more times!
4.5 mi • 2,700 ft aeg
I found a road I had never known about that made getting there MUCH easier. From the highway, take the paved road to the landfill by Mobile, AZ and head north, paralleling the dump. Just before you get to the small airstrip there, turn right. That road bends around the end of the runway and heads north. It's a reasonable high clearance road that will eventually join up with the powerline road, but isn't nearly as long as following the powerline road all the way along 7 mile mountain. After the Montezuma Peak turnoff the road gets dramatically rougher as you approach the trailhead. You definitely need 4WD for this one. Not just for the rough sections, but the approach roads cross and sometimes drive directly inside of deep sand.
The only trail is a sketchy one for a short distance to the old Spanish mine and mine shelter. Beyond that, it was a boulder and bramble scramble all the way up. You escape the catclaw and cacti by sticking to the center of the gully (it splits up high. I took the right fork that heads towards the false summit), but there you will also find polished, downward sloping slabs one after the other. Near what looks like the summit (false summit), I headed along the bottom of its cliffs and wrapped around to the left to access a small hanging basin below the real summit. From there, you head up to the ridge and skirt around the summit block until you find a weakness on the north side that allows you to scramble up to the top. This whole route was steeper and rougher than I expected, but still fun! Classic Estrella terrain.
5.2 mi • 2,550 ft aeg
Back at one of my favorite hikes for the fourth time. It has been 2 years since I have been in these mountains. Wanting to catch the sunset from the peak and with poor time planning I had to race up the mountain. Managed to hit the summit right as the sky turned the rocks red. Pushed a little hard on this one but it was worth the sunset views.

I absolutely love this trail. The unique rock flecked with mica. The huge chunks of quartz at the top. This is one of my absolute favorite hikes to do. Could tell that the roads to it have gotten a little worse but it was nice getting the tacoma out on the dirt.

Need trail info? PM me.
0 mi • 0 ft aeg
Butterfly Peaks
My son and I left our neighborhood in Chandler at 6am. Arrived by 7:30am at the trailhead and finished by about 3:30pm. It takes about an hour to traverse from the Quartz Peak trail to Butterfly peaks. Initally we left the Quartz Peak trail from a bit of a notch on the ridge below Quartz summit and followed somewhat of a ramp between cliffs to bypass difficulties and cliffs east of Quartz Peak, then we followed the ridge mostly where we could to obtain the pass between Quartz and Butterfly. The rest was traversing just below the cliffs on the Butterfly-Quartz ridge and boulder, catclaw, and cactus wacking around to Butterfly. It was tedious, but do-able if you're persistent. Wear long pants. The vegetation wants to shred you. West Butterfly can be climbed without a rope with a couple of low, minimally exposed 5th class moves to surmount a somewhat overhung chockstone in a large gash that runs up the south side of the peak (use good sense. Only you know what you're comfortable with. My son and I brought a rope and harnesses and stoppers, but didn't use them.) Once over the chockstone, you can scramble up the gash and exit it just a few dozen feet from the top. Easy scrambling. East Butterfly is an easier, classic (fun!) boulder scramble to the top.
5.2 mi • 2,550 ft aeg
It's been a while since I posted & thought I would since I did not see anyone comment recently on the road conditions. Coming from the East side of Ahwatukee, it made sense to take the route through Maricopa - which, with no traffic, is at least 30 minutes shorter each way (& there is always traffic!). A 4WD was a must this time (it was not the last time I did this - just good clearance). With the washes being washed out and road eroded, there were 3 technical areas to maneuver -- which we did - yay :y: - Glad I was not alone!
So onto the hike - well it seemed longer than I remember and also prettier than I remember - this is my 4th time to the summit. Guess I am getting old. I think the last time I was here was in 2012 or 2013 -- maybe both years. I took my beloved Merlot one of those years and we went to the total summit together. This time, I left my current dog Snowy down below while I climbed the last bit. There didn't seem to be a way to get him up there - and I wanted him/us to be safe. Maybe I was younger and more brave last time :lol:
The trail is in EXCELLENT shape - much better than I remember. Even the cholla were mostly cleared and there were lots of little white flowers. Someone put a metal cross memorial tribute in the beginning part of the climb. The BLM left sheets and there is a sign in box at the start. We started very late and got back to Hwy 238 just as the sun set completely. Now - onto the good stuff -- Sushi!

Several varieties of white and purple flowers, mallow, brittle bush.

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