12.8 miles round trip
The Trailhead is located at Bowman Lake on the south side of the boat launch.
This is a strenuous hike over a loop trail. We take the preferred route, hiking toward Quartz Lake Campground, turning left at the junction about one-quarter mile into the hike.
The early morning air feels good and we enjoy hearing the birds as we hike along the lakeshore. Fluffy clouds dot the sky promising good weather for the day. After crossing Bowman Creek on a footbridge we soon come to the junction where we turn toward Quartz Lake Campground. The trail gradually climbs up Cerulean Ridge through a thick-cool forest. Thimbleberry brush is in bloom along the trail and we wonder if the mushrooms in the forest are edible. As we reach the crest of Cerulean Ridge, we stop and relax for a time and watch a hawk circling below the ridge crest searching for its next meal. This is a quiet place except for the soft breeze in the tree branches.
The trail follows the ridge and then drops into the Quartz Creek area and enters the Red Bench Fire landscape, which burned in 1988. Some of the Larch trees survived the fire and stand tall over the new growth. From here we can see all the surrounding mountains, plus Middle Quartz Lake, Quartz Lake and Lower Quartz Lake. Descending the ridge we arrive at Quartz Lake Campground where we take our lunch break on the beach and enjoy the view of beautiful mountains and the lake. Other hikers have set up camp for a day or two of quiet solitude.
Leaving the camp area the Quartz Creek Trail to the right takes us past Middle Quartz Lake. Hiking along the lake, a footbridge takes us over Quartz Creek at the end of the lake where we begin the long climb over Quartz Ridge through the Red Bench Fire burn area. At the top of the ridge is an excellent view of the mountains and we rest for a while to take it all in. After leaving the ridge the trail heads downhill through Bowman Valley where the deep-cool forest leads us to the end of our hike. We meet some hikers, with packs, just beginning their hike and discuss some of the trail highlights with them and tell them there are many backcountry camp areas available for an overnight stay.