FKT: Derrick Lytle - Tucson Five (AZ) - 2023-11-20

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
2d 8h 30m 54s
GPS track(s)

This route has been on my mind for a while in the way that Henley did it by biking between trailheads. Seems appropriate to do it that way and get a real tour de Tucson. After messaging with Henley about the route and variations of it I decided on a bike route between trailheads that was all pavement. My route also deviated slightly from his as my trails up Wrightson and Lemmon were different but we agreed that it's ok. Always here's how it went.

I camped at Proctor Canyon about 2 miles from the Old Baldy trailhead that would be my first of the five peaks. I started Saturday morning a bit before sunrise. I biked the couple miles pavement up the steep road to the trailhead to meet Drew Frehs who would be running up Wrighton with me. I passed load of deer on the road and some turkeys. I pedaled up in my running clothes to save some time and we started quickly ascended through the last bits of fall foliage and entered the pingpong call view on the summit then dropped down. Wrightson is one of my most favorite peaks and it was an amazing lap as always. 

From the Old Baldy trailhead I rode down to and then north to the Douglas Spring trailhead which would take me 26 or so miles up Mica Mountain. I got there an hour or so before sunset, changed clothes, and starting the long step filled ascent to the viewless summit. Once the sun dropped I had the entire route to myself. About 8 miles up I hit Cowhead saddle and once again ascended in to the clouds. I navigated to the summit via headlamp in the mist. Not too cold nor windy but a little slow navigating a new to me trail.  I hit the summit and descended with more deer, dodging a skunk, and trying not to think of the predators out there. Got back to my bike and found it soaking wet from the dew so I dried off my gear as best I could with my stove and started to bike over to Sutherland trailhead.

I met my buddy Ryan Goode there in the state park around sunrise and we went up Lemmon via Romero Pools trail and enjoyed some incredible views of Lemmon. We hit the summit up there, filtered some clean cold water, and starting back down in the chilly wind. The descent was fun and pretty. Some remnants of fall on the trail too. About 5 miles from the trailhead we ran in to Kylie Aldaz and Matt Halverson, two locals who would be running with me later on. We ran down and had a beautiful sunset.

At the trailhead I packed up my bike and started a cold ride over to King Canyon in the dark. I forgot to fill water at the trailhead so I stopped at a grocery store for some water and grabbed a bag of chips. Filled bottles and ate half the bag of chips. A nice change from the gels and chews. I rode over to King Canyon taking Gates Pass which was a little scary in the dark on a narrow road. Saw a ton of coyotes and rode the roller coaster of a road over to Wasson. 

I met Matt and started changing my clothes to get ready for the run. While doing so we had a visit from the Sheriff informing us the park was closed and we were trespassing. After explaining he said we were good to go. For future reference it's probably best to do this during normal hours to avoid getting shut down. This is one of, if not, my favorite trail in town. Matt and I made good time and chatted up. Super fun and felt quick. Windy up top but with some killer views. This was my first Wasson summit in the dark and it was amazing. We got back to the trailhead around 1 am. I packed up and started the ride to Keystone Peak.

At this point I was pumped and ready to get this done but also remembering I had zero minutes of sleep. I started riding over and needed to get water. Riding to a gas station I suddenly got tired and stopped at a bus stop for a 10 minute snooze. I got up and pedaled to a gas station down the road. The clerk was nice and made me some fresh coffee and I filled up on water.

I started the frigid ride to Keystone and got really tired and cold. I found a spot in the dirt on the side of the road and slept for 30 minutes. I woke up and felt good. I grabbed a caffeinated gel and got moving. Still cold and with all my layers on but excited to see the peak. The road to Keystone seems endless at a moderate grade. With a slight headwind it felt harder. Finally making it to the dirt road I changed clothes and started up. The trail up is a dirt road that leads to some radio towers. Not super exciting but it was nice to just move on a non technical road. Almost out of water I found a cow trough and filled a bottle to filter even though it smelled like eggs. 

I hit the top and started down. Shuffled down to my bike. Changed clothes. Said hi to a couple of locals who asked what I was doing. The descent down was nice and an easy ride to Green Valley where I got some water/snacks at a grocery store to get ready for another slog of a climb back to my truck. Stoked I started and started another endless climb but kept smiling seeing Wrightson in front of me. 

Finally made it back. This loop is a great way to see town and the amazing area here. I ran in to a lot of great people and generally just had a great time. There's a lot of wiggle room to do this faster. I'm already planning on how to do it faster. I know there's people who could do it faster and I would love to see that happen. 

As a side note I tracked this on my Coros in hike mode so I could use ultra max for longer battery life. Mileage is not accurate. Example, riding down hill fast my watch said I was doing 8 minute miles so it's clearly inaccurate for pacing but the time and map should be good.