"Hike with the heat." is my mantra during the summer. And Quartz Ridge Trail is the best place to do it.
The heat is less shocking if you keep climbing mountains alongside the climbing temperatures. Plus, I've found it makes for an easier summer: I complain a lot less if I man-up and get acclimated.
Of course, there are many more rules than that. Bring twice as much water as you think you need; don't hike for more than two hours; and, for the love of God, only hike during the two hours after sunrise or the two hours before sundown.
Since I'm addicted to my snooze button, it's all about the evening hikes.
And, since I work for a living, the hike has to be conveniently located in the city so I can drive there after work.
Also known as Trail 8A in the Phoenix Mountain preserve, Quartz Ridge Trail begins at a teeny, tiny trailhead located on the northeast corner of 32nd Street and Lincoln Drive in Phoenix. It's an up and back two-mile jaunt with great views that takes about an hour, depending on your fitness level. The surrounding slopes are littered with white boulders of quartz.
And (hooray!) it's all shaded all the way.
This trek is just one entryway into the vast spider-webby system of trails that makes the Phoenix Mountain Preserve such a gem. The hike starts with a hefty warm up of a relatively flat, wide trail that spans at least half a mile. The remainder is a quick, steep jaunt to the ridge, where the tangle of hiking trails to the north are visible.
From the end of 8A, I like to hop on 8B to what I cleverly refer to as "the second top." It's another, higher summit to the west that will give your cardio an extra shove. From that vantage point, one can see Camelback Mountain to the east and Piestawa Peak to the west (in fact, if you want, you can hike from this trail to Piestawa and back -- it's all connected).
It's a great social hike as you can easily keep a conversation going throughout most of the walking. The traffic is always light and dogs are welcome.
This last time, we spied three bats. Or maybe it was the same bat three times. Either way, because of the lack of people, be ready to encounter more critters than usual.
And, by "be ready," I mean, don't kill them. Just walk away.
Distance: 2 miles
Time: 1 hour
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Elevation Climb: 500 ft.
Hiker's Tip: Bring a friend. This is a good hike for chatting.