This route climbs up the one of the most iconic peaks in the Tucson area, Mount Lemmon, starting from Catalina State Park. The climb begins on the Romero Canyon Trail, one of the most popular trails in the area which leads up to a desert oasis with pools! The trail continues up to the Romero saddle where the trail intersects the AZT. Hop onto the AZT and head towards the Mount Lemmon Trail #5 and on up to the summit! The route ends at the parking lot at the top of the Mount Lemmon ski area.
For the round trip run down the same trails or complete the short Meadow Trail to make a loop at the top and intersect back with the Mount Lemmon Trail #5 (distance is just slightly longer by completing the meadow loop). There is year round water on the Romero Canyon Trail about half way down towards the Romero Pools.
(Editor note: this Route is for the Ascent; there is a Variation for the Up and Down; both qualify as separate FKTs. For the Up/Down, one may do the described Meadow Loop or not.)
- Submitted by Allison Baca
Pepper your Lemmon back side route 23.68 miles/5754ft gain
A rolling climb up the forest roads on the 'back side' of Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains, Tucson, Arizona. This is an alternative route to running up the trails, which have been closed/ have limited access due to lingering impacts of the Big Horn fire, June/ July 2020. The route is mainly forest roads, with a short section of asphalt as you make the final climb up to the Mount Lemmon Peak. It can be difficult to reach the actual summit marker/ benchmark due to limited access onto the grounds of the observatory. But you can reach the same elevation if you run straight up the road all the way to the gates of the observatory, which is where I ended my run, and this route. The start this route was at the Peppersauce Campground: S Mt Lemmon Rd, Oracle, AZ 85623. Overall this is a great run with dramatic views and challenging climbs that takes you through a range of ecological zones, from desert scrub right up to the ponderosa pines.