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Rainbow Valley Trail
Estrella Mountain Regional Park
January 19, 2003
by Joe Orman
Chuck (with Buddy), Pat, Mike, Jim, Darleen, Sharon (with Gracie), Joe

Estrella Mountain Regional Park starts out civilized, but soon reveals its wilder side. This Maricopa County park, about an hour's drive west of Phoenix, is easily accessed from Interstate 10. After passing the entrance kiosk, the park road curves around a grassy picnic area, then enters the desert. From the dirt lot at the end of the road, several trails lead south across open country into the rugged hills that form the north-west end of the Sierra Estrella. For our group of 7 people and 2 dogs, the choice this day was the Rainbow Valley Trail.

As we began hiking on this pleasant morning, the bee-hive like noise of the adjacent Phoenix International Raceway gradually faded away. We followed the trail through a low pass out into the broad Rainbow Valley. Here practically no signs of civilization could be seen, the desert stretching unbroken into the hazy distance. We found a sandy, shaded wash for a relaxing lunch. Then we picked up our return route, the Coldwater Trail, to make a 5-mile loop. The trail eventually turned into a gravel road, which brought us back to the parking lot. Having grown accustomed to the quiet, even the crunch of our boots on the gravel seemed like an assault on our senses. But we each carried a bit of that desert silence inside of us on our return to civilization.

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updated July 28, 2019