Aspen Trail

The view from the top of the Aspen Trail. December 2013The view from the top of the Aspen Trail. December 2013

Overview

The Aspen Trail #93 is a popular trail – winding thru a forest of Aspens and Pines – grown over with ferns in the summer and covered in snow in the winter – and so many great views! My favorite section of trail is below Radio Ridge – burned over a decade ago these slopes offer huge views of the Santa Catalina Mountains and beyond – a great excuse to pause on the climb up to the ridge…

Hike Stats

  • Hike Type: Out and Back
  • Hiking Distance: 8.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,400'
  • Elevation Loss: 2,400'
  • Highest Elevation: 9,100'
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,400'

Location

Drive

  • Driving Distance from Speedway Campbell: 39.9 miles
  • Driving Time from Speedway Campbell: 1 hour and 25 minutes
  • Vehicle Access: Paved Roads/Passenger Car (Mountain Road - be careful of weather conditions!). Last 0.5 miles is closed to motor vehicles in winter (December 15 to March 1 - dates subject to change depending on weather/conditions).

Details

Aspen Trail Elevation Profile

Aspen Trail Elevation Profile

Driving Directions

Google Maps Directions from the Speedway and Campbell intersection in Tucson to Marshall Gulch Trailhead.

Quick version:

  • Drive East on Speedway (5.0 miles)
  • Left on Wilmot and continue on Tanque Verde (4.3 miles)
  • Left on Catalina Highway (29.3 miles)
  • Continue thru Summerhaven on Sabino Canyon Parkway - most of the year you can drive 1.2 miles to the trailhead at the end of the road. In winter (December 15 to March 1 depending on the weather) the final 0.5 miles of the drive (Marshall Gulch Road) will often be closed to vehicles, there is limited parking off the road near the gate. In winter the road is still open to foot traffic and the trailhead is open.
  • Regardless of the time of year parking can be a challenge on popular holidays/weekends.

Snow on the Aspen Trail - a trail sign for the junction of the Aspen, Wilderness of Rock, Mint Spring and Marshall Gulch Trails is barely visible in the trees. December 2014
Snow on the Aspen Trail - a trail sign for the junction of the Aspen, Wilderness of Rock, Mint Spring and Marshall Gulch Trails is barely visible in the trees. December 2014
Left: Moon and trees from the final climb up the Aspen Trail. September 2014
Right: Snow on the Aspen Trail - a trail sign for the junction of the Aspen, Wilderness of Rock, Mint Spring and Marshall Gulch Trails is barely visible in the trees. December 2014

Trail Notes

The mileages and elevations below are approximate (don't expect the values below to match your GPS exactly).

  • 0.0 miles, 7500′: From the Marshall Gulch Trailhead start at the sign for the Aspen Trail (south of the restrooms). [Waypoint thmg]
  • The trail climbs and winds thru the Aspens – there are good views of upper Sabino Canyon, sections of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and Tucson.
  • 2.5 miles, 8000′: The trail comes to a junction with the Marshall Gulch Trail (this will take you back to the trailhead), Mint Spring Trail and Wilderness of Rock Trail – there are signs here for all of the trails. [Waypoint wr-ap-mg-ms]
  • 3.3 miles, 8600′: The trail reaches a flat spot with Aspens and good views before the last climb/switchbacks up to Radio Ridge. [Waypoint ap01]
  • 3.9 miles, 9000′: Near a tower a sign marks what may technically be the end of the Aspen Trail [Waypoint apend] – but this is probably not where you want to stop!  Continue to the NW on a worn path past several buildings.
  • 4.0 miles, 9050′: Pass the signed start of the Aspen Draw Trail [Waypoint fr18-ad] and then join and follow an obvious dirt road west past the ski lift (the Aspen Draw Trail can be used to descend back to Summerhaven).
  • 4.2 miles, 9050′: Pass by a gate and into the Summit Trailhead – [Waypoint ths]. The quickest way back down is to retrace yours steps back down the Aspen Trail. For longer loops continue up to the Mount Lemmon Recreation Area by taking a short signed trail that leaves from the west edge of the parking area [Waypoint sumcon-srr].
  • 4.3 miles, 9100′: Arrive at the Mount Lemmon Recreation Area [Waypoint mlra]. There are a number of possible loops back to the Marshall Gulch Trailhead from here using the Mount Lemmon Trail, Lemmon Rock Trail and Wilderness of Rock Trail – or consider a stroll on the Meadow Trail before heading back down.

Lemmon Rock and the Lemmon Rock Lookout at the end of the day with a storm moving in. September 2014
Lemmon Rock and the Lemmon Rock Lookout at the end of the day with a storm moving in. September 2014
Left: A sunny day - looking towards the Lemmon Rock and the Lemmon Rock Lookout from the Aspen Trail. April 2014
Right: Lemmon Rock and the Lemmon Rock Lookout at the end of the day with a storm moving in. September 2014

Going for a run on the Aspen Trail. April 2014Going for a run on the Aspen Trail. April 2014

A great view of the ridges above Bear and Sabino Canyon - Gibbon Mountain, Thimble Peak, Saddleback and Blackett's Ridge are all visible! April 2014A great view of the ridges above Bear and Sabino Canyon - Gibbon Mountain, Thimble Peak, Saddleback and Blackett's Ridge are all visible! April 2014

Pictures

2014 September Mint Spring, Wilderness of Rock, Aspen, Aspen Draw

2014 April Aspen Trail

2014 April Mint Spring, Marshall Gulch, Aspen Trail

2013 December Mint Spring and Aspen Trail

2012 July Mint Sprint Trail and Aspen Loop

Distraction Limited – These photos contain Aspen Trail pictures from the 1970s – a fascinating look back at this area!!

Update Notes

  • 2017/8/15 – Added posts from HikeLemmon to Resources
  • 2017/8/10 – Another gpx update with a hand edit of the track and elevation from Google, stats updates also
  • 2017/8/8 – Updated gpx and description to better reflect the signed Summit Trailhead and Mount Lemmon Recreation Area locations
  • 2017/7/28 – Srcset Images
  • 2015/1/13 – Added PDF Trail Map and Description
  • 2015/1/12 – Updated gpx – new waypoint names, small description adjustments
  • 2014/12/21 – New snow picture, re-write description, added a number of missing links, tweaks to cue list
  • 2014/9/13 – Added several new pictures, updated several captions and rearranged.
  • 2014/6/27 – Waypoints switched to DEM elevation
  • 2014/6/20 – Format Update
  • 2014/5/8 – Initial page