On The Rocks – Aspen Trail and Marshall Gulch Loop, Mount Lemmon

Hey everyone, welcome to On The Rocks! I’m your trail guide, Claudia Collins. I’m taking you along on my adventures as I check hikes, waterfalls, and other outdoor activities off of my Arizona bucket list. Today I’m helping you escape the heat, so we’re heading up Mount Lemmon. 

Mount Lemmon is in the Coronado National Forest outside of Tucson, AZ and the drive up the mountain alone makes this hike worth it. It takes about 5o minutes from the base of the mountain to drive up to the trailhead and there are many, many false peaks to make it tons of fun. I didn’t know what to expect out of this day trip because no one had ever recommended I make the trek out to Tucson for this adventure, but I’m sure glad I did! I couldn’t believe how cool the temperature was at the trailhead, at noon it was only 68 degrees…it was perfect. 

I decided to hike the Aspen Trail and Marshall Gulch loop because it seemed just long enough for a day trip. The hike is 4.2 miles long with a little over 800 feet of elevation gain. I got altitude sickness a few years ago shortly after submitting Humphrey’s Peak, that was the day I learned that it’s important to not push your limits when it comes to hiking at a higher altitude. If I had spent several hours on the mountain beforehand, or even camped, I would’ve happily done a more difficult hike. However, since we had elevated over 8,000 feet to get up to the trailhead, I  didn’t want to push myself too much. 

The hike goes through the portion of land that was affected by the Bighorn fire in 2020. The Bighorn fire burned nearly 120,000 acres and was caused by a lightning strike. Many fires in the state of Arizona are caused by human error, while this was not the case in the Bighorn fire it’s still an excellent reminder to leave no trace. 

Be sure to stop at plenty of viewpoints on your way up or down the mountain!