The view from the top of the Aspen Trail. December 2013
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…
Out and Back
2,400' Elevation Gain
2,400' Elevation Loss
Highest Elevation: 9,100'
Lowest Elevation: 7,400'
This hike is located in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona.
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).
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.
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
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].
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