Length: 4 miles
Located on the extreme western edge of the Phoenix Metro Area, the Estrella Mountain Regional Park offers a unique hiking experience in that it's conveniently located to the city yet still relatively secluded. The park is perhaps one of the most unique county parks in that it offers large stretches of grass for picnics, a rodeo arena, and several interconnected trails, which allows visitors to customize their hike to practically any length and ability level.
I chose to start with the popular Rainbow Trail, which starts at the rodeo arena and skirts its way along the western edge of the Estrella Mountains. The park map lists the first segment of the trail as being 2.2 miles; however, the rather steep incline of this segment makes it seem much, much longer! The first two miles is little more than a continuous climb from one peak to the next. Fortunately, there are some excellent views of the White Tank Mountains and the West Valley. Eventually, the trail reaches its summit then abruptly quickly descends back to the valley below. (Due to the steepness of the trail as it descends the southside of the mountain, I would highly recommend only following the Rainbow Trail in a counter-clockwise direction!)
After descending down the mountain, the trail continues through the sandy desert valley until intersecting with the Dysart Trail. From this intersection one can either continue deeper into the mountains on the Rainbow Trail or begin looping back towards the trailhead along the Dysart Trail. I chose the easier route of the Dysart Trail and continued through the flat desert valley for another half-mile to the Toothaker Trail.
The Toothtaker Trail is the final mile stretch that continues back to the trailhead. The trail merely continues through the desert lowland around the mountain originally climbed on the Rainbow Trail. The trail itself does provide an easy finish with plenty of desert vegetation and beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding mountain peaks to enjoy.
To view more pictures of the Rainbow/Toothaker Trails, click here.