AZT - Passage 12 - Oracle Ridge
ElevationAscent: 4,022' 1,226 m
Descent: -5,661' -1,725 m
High: 7,957' 2,425 m
Low: 4,427' 1,349 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 53% (28°)
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“A diverse section of the AZT.”— Brad Baxley
Upon making the ridge, you'll be rewarded with fantastic views of Cathedral Rock to the south, Romero Canyon to the west, and the entire Pusch Ridge Wilderness to the east. Don't be fooled, however. There is quite a bit more elevation to gain before summiting Lemmon. There are a few great campsites just as you make the ridge which see a little less use than those within the The Wilderness of the Rocks. Be mindful of fire restrictions which frequently affect the area.
The Wilderness of the Rocks is a suspended basin, littered with large, sculptural boulders deposited from the massive upheavals that crown Mount Lemmon. The trail follows collection streams carved by runoff. At various times in the year, depending on snow melt or precipitation, water can be found quite abundantly. Even in the summer, spring-fed trickles can be found the closer you get to Marshall Gulch Trail #3.
A map (or the Trail Run Project mobile app) is helpful to navigate the network of trails at the top of Lemmon. Day-tripping and bear activity increase near the top. From the Marshall Gulch Trail #3 head, the AZT leads right through Summerhaven, where one can procure supplies, water, a burger, etc... There are also alternate routes which bypass the town's center.
From Summerhaven, the trail follows Catalina Hwy for 0.4 miles then uses Mount Lemmon Rd. to access Trail #1, Oracle Ridge Trailhead. This trail runs the entire length of Oracle Ridge, 12.5 miles, to Oracle State Park in the north. It is a fantastic stretch, best experienced heading north (downhill). Following a winding, narrow ridgeline with views of Lemmon's impressive north side and the Reef of Rock, the trail rolls with glimpses of sections to come. A number of solid campsites of various sizes can be found north of Dan Saddle. Water caches are sometimes present, but enough water for the entire duration from the top until the park should be carried as there are no reliable natural sources.
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