The Phoenix Mountain Preserve is an incredible effort of conservation by the city of Phoenix. These beautiful mountains in northeast Phoenix are untouched despite being in a premier area of the city. These peaks could easily be littered with million dollar houses and resorts, but instead they are kept public for hiking, mountain biking, and other activities, making it easy for any resident to go on an adventure at any time they choose.
The Quartz Ridge Trail is a short, although relatively strenuous hike. The trailhead at 32nd street is really easy to find, although finding parking can be a challenge due to the popularity of the trails in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. The Quartz Ridge Trail is the main trail starting at this trailhead. The first half-mile is mostly flat, only gaining about 125 feet of elevation. There are huge Saguaro Cacti all along this part of the trail as you hike through the valley, which provide those classic southwest landscapes.
At nearly three-quarters of a mile you will start the ascent and gain 600 plus feet of elevation over the next 0.7 of a mile. There is an intersection of the Quartz Ridge and Ruth Hamilton trails in a small valley at around 1.3 miles. This is a good place to take a break and take in the first amazing views. From there, you will go left toward the summit. The remaining tenth of a mile is almost straight up hill with very rocky terrain. It is important to be cautious as you climb and look out for loose footing.
As you reach the summit you will be greeted with panoramic views of North Phoenix including nearby landmarks such as Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain. Standing high above Phoenix truly highlights the contrast between it's mountains and the city that is woven in-between them below. Spend some time at the top taking photos, having a snack, and just enjoying the view. It's quite the reward for the climb you just made, and it deserves some time to be fully appreciated.
The initial descent can again be tricky due to the loose footing and steep angle, but once you make it back to the intersection it is a very easy hike down. The views of the south side of the city on the way down offer a different kind of beauty, especially early in the morning or close to dusk when the city lights fill the horizon.
This is a great trail for those looking to get out and enjoy an easy to moderate hike with panoramic views. It is easy to find, it is conveniently located in the metro area of Phoenix, and it doesn't take more than two or three hours. For those that are looking for a longer or more challenging hike, there are many trails in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, and many of them are connected. You could easily hike 10 to 15 miles through different trails in the park in a single trip.
Remember to pack plenty of water and check the weather ahead of time as temperatures in Phoenix can easily exceed 100 degrees, especially in the summer. Remember to be respectful of any wildlife or other people you encounter on the trail, and lastly, always remember to #AdventureLikeYouGiveADamn.