Length: 9.3-miles (one-way)
Trailhead Facilities: None
Short Trail Summary: This hike description is to the junction with the Quartz Creek Trail No. 571.
From the Trailhead, begin climbing initially in aspen. The trail begins to switchback with occasional views to Nipple Mountain and Blackhead Peak. A steep side hill climb to the Keyhole. Passing through, the terrain changes dramatically.
At Quartz Lake Trail No. 568, turn east and descend to Middle Earth on spectacular trail construction consisting of rebar and cable done with special permission after becoming a designated wilderness area. Soon pass Blanco River Trail No. 573 on the south. Continue with occasional clear tread along an undulating up and down traverse to the saddle of the 12,245-foot Quartz Creek Trail junction.
Directions: From US 84, turn left onto Mill Creek Road (CR 302), a gravel road. Drive 6.3-miles to a fork; keep right onto Nipple Mountain Road/FS 665. Continue on the primary gravel road for an additional 9.7-miles to the trailhead.