The Sierra Estrella’s are the sharp range that’s lies south of Phoenix and south of South Mountain. Many postcards of downtown Phoenix have the Sierra Estrella’s as the backdrop. This range dramatically rises out of the desert floor. The Gila River (usually dry) runs along the base of these mountains and is the low point of the Phoenix area, being just under 1,000 feet elevation. Montezuma Peak is possibly the the highest named point of this range with an elevation of 4,354 feet, rising nearly 3,400 feet from the Gila river. The actual high point an unnamed peak at 4,512' on the west end of the range. This peak is known as Sierra Estrella. Quartz Peak and Butterfly Mountain are nearly dead center in this range.
The Quartz Peak Trail is the only trail in this range, thus making Quartz Peak the only mountain with a trail leading to the top. The trail starts on the opposite side of the range from Phoenix. The starting elevation is at 1,555 feet. The Quartz Peak trail starts up a spur ridge then connects to the main ridge and follows it to the summit. The final 1/4-mile or more is a short easy scramble to get to the white-capped quartz summit.
This trail is steep and provides an excellent workout. Round trip may only take about 3-4 hours, but driving to the trail head is a long drive, making this almost an all day journey.
Quartz Peak is a satellite Peak of Butterfly Mountain, rising about 275 feet from the saddle. From Quartz Peak, Butterfly Peak is a short hike to its summit. I have never done Butterfly Peak, so I don’t know how difficult it is. Looking at Butterfly’s summit, it looks like it could be a scramble. Quartz Peak is the summit most people hike up to. Butterfly Mtn is rarely ever summited.
From Phoenix head west on I-10 towards California. Take the Estrella Parkway exit and head south. Continue 8.2 miles to Elliott Road. Take a right and follow 2.6 miles Rainbow Valley Road. Take a left and follow 9.3 miles to Riggs Road. Take a left and follow 3.9 miles to Bullard Ave. Turn right and immediately (like 50 feet) turn left onto a dirt road. Continue on the dirt road following the power lines for 5.3 miles passing Rainbow Rancho (a ranch with a canon in front telling you to go away) along the way. At 5.3 miles take a right and follow 1.9 miles. Take a left here and follow 1.9 miles to the Quartz Peak Trail head. There are plenty of parking spaces and a restroom. No water available at the trail head. It's possible to access this trail head in a car but it isn't recommended. Several stories of getting stuck have been reported to the site. A few have reported no problem in a car so it may depend on other conditions. Just be careful, as this is not a good place to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere!
None to hike up the Quartz Peak Trail. From What I have heard you need a permit to hike anywhere else in the range.
I don't think camping is allowed at the Trail head, It would not be a great place to camp anyway. Getting a hotel near Phoenix would be the way to go.
none at this time
"It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."
--David St. Hubbins