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AZT - Passage 12 - Oracle Ridge

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

22.6 mile 36.3 kilometer point to point
83% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 4,022' 1,226 m
Descent: -5,661' -1,725 m
High: 7,957' 2,425 m
Low: 4,427' 1,349 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 53% (28°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Brad Baxley

A diverse section of the AZT.

Brad Baxley

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Need to Know

Be current on water conditions and fire restrictions.

Description

The climb from Romero Pass, at the Junction of the AZT - Passage 11 - Santa Catalina Mountains and Romero Canyon Trail, to the Wilderness of Rock Trail #44 is very steep. Be ready to scramble a bit, and note that you'll have consistent southern exposure which is taxing year round in AZ. Make sure you have enough water. Hutch's Pool if traveling north, and Summerhaven if heading south, are the most reliable water sources on either side.

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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Trail Ratings

  3.6 from 5 votes

#14

in Tucson

#17161

Overall
  3.6 from 5 votes
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Trail Rankings

#14

in Tucson

#598

in Arizona

#17,161

Overall
23 Views Last Month
859 Since Mar 3, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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17%
17%
67%
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Photos

Sunset in the Wilderness of the Rocks.
May 22, 2019 near Oro Valley, AZ
Looking back down Romero Canyon from the top of the pass
Dec 1, 2019 near Oro Valley, AZ
The American Flag Trailhead on AZT passage 12
Sep 30, 2019 near Oracle, AZ
The tank at mile 194.6 on AZT passage 12. The water in the trough was green but there was water dripping from the tank itself.
Sep 30, 2019 near Oracle, AZ
Looking SW towards Cathedral Rock from lower portion of Lemmon Ridge.
May 22, 2019 near Oro Valley, AZ
Snow at the top or Romero Pass
Dec 1, 2019 near Oro Valley, AZ

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