BEST HIKE IF YOU'VE GOT ALL DAY (2007)

Quartz Peak

As veteran hikers of Camelback Mountain and Squaw — ahem — Piestewa Peak, we try to make an occasional hajj to Quartz Peak in the way, way southwest Valley. The trail has a sweet, 1,000-feet-per-mile ratio like the Valley's two most popular mountains, but is more than twice as long. This is the perfect calf-burning grade that feels as much like a workout as a hike, thus providing a good excuse for spending the day traipsing around gorgeous, cactus-covered countryside.

We've seen bighorn sheep and coyotes on the way to the amazing summit, which is a giant block of white quartz. Phoenix is like a gold and green tapestry in the distance.

We just wish it were closer. The exit off Interstate 10 at Jackrabbit Trail is remote enough from just about any other Valley location, but that's just the first step. You still have to drive another 10 miles south, then take a twisting desert road for high-clearance vehicles only to the trailhead.

But Quartz Peak is only sort of remote. Once, when we did this hike in early June, there were literally no human beings around for miles. Yet just over the hill was a buzzing metropolis of more than 3 million people. That's kind of nifty, if you think about it.

Location Details

14805 W. Vineyard Ave.
Goodyear AZ 85338
623-932-3811