Coronado National Forest Mount Lemmon, Arizona 85619Official Website
This trail follows the route of an old road and power line from the Catalina Highway to the site of a now-abandoned prison camp beside the Highway. The camp has been razed and the power line removed, while the road has been closed and is being allowed to return to a natural condition. The trail follows portions of this old route and provides access to an excellent example of Sonoran desert habitat that is conveniently close to Tucson. As the trail winds up the mountain, it visits a few ridge tops that provide good views back toward the city before dropping into Soldier Canyon, where there are some picturesque waterfalls when the stream is running. The boulder-strewn cascades over which those falls tumble are pleasant to spend a few moments by even when they are dry. The trail’s rating is moderate, as is its length, and it is relatively easy to follow from beginning to end. In a few places, however, spur paths that lead to overlooks or other off-trail places of interest have developed through repeated use and could prove a bit confusing. The trail ends at the western limit of the old prison camp, from which it is a short walk on the road to a closed gate that marks the trailhead.
Upper trailhead–Drive up the Catalina Highway to the turnoff into the old prison camp beyond milepost 7. Turn left and follow the road to a closed gate that marks the trailhead. Lower trailhead–This trailhead is located on the north side of the Catalina Highway about a mile from the bottom of the mountain.
See all hotspots at Mt. Lemmon
Approximately an hour's drive from Tucson's city center, Mount Lemmon is a favorite day trip and camping spot for Tucsonans. It's a beautiful outdoor escape, ideal for hiking, biking, rock climbing, picnicking, sunset watching, sledding, and skiing.
Mount Lemmon is usually 20-30 degrees cooler than Tucson, so you can find cooler temperatures there in the summer and a beautiful layer of snow in the winter, along with vibrantly colored leaves in autumn.
With a summit of 9,159 feet, Mount Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The mountain was named for botanist Sara Plummer Lemmon, who trekked to the top of the mountain by horse and foot in 1881.
Mount Lemmon is a peak in the Catalina mountain range, surrounded by Coronado National Forest.
To reach Mount Lemmon from Tucson, turn off Tanque Verde Road onto Catalina Highway. Take Catalina Highway as far up the mountain as you desire to go!
On your way up the mountain, you may want to stop at Windy Point Vista (Mile Marker 14). This popular lookout point has bathrooms and is a terrific spot for photos.
Note that the road up the mountain is curvy with very few straight sections. If you or anyone in your car is prone to motion sickness, plan ahead by bringing bags, mints, cold water, snacks, or stomach-settling medications. It also helps to not drive on an empty stomach.
Take Catalina Highway northeast from Tanque Verde Road. For desert and mountain species, stop at picnic and campgrounds (Molina Basin, Bear Canyon, Rose Canyon Lake, and others) as you drive the narrow, winding road to high elevations.