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Saturday, February 9, 2019

What’s Behind Mt. Lemmon?

I have never been on the other side of Mt. Lemmon from Tucson.  This year I put it on my list of things to do this year.

It’s 40 miles to Benson from Tucson.  Then 29 miles north to Cascabel. 43 miles from Cascabel to Oricle.  Finally 37 miles back to Tucson.  That is a 149 mile trip!

Today is the coldest day in Tucson during my stay.  Too cold for my hiking and too cold for Disc Golf.  The perfect day to take the drive to the back side of Mt. Lemmon.

Much of my travels behind Mt. Lemmon are dirt roads.  Unlike Forest Service roads that are narrow, this road is wide, except for the narrower cattle guard crossings.

The cliffs in the distance, tower over the valley.  They resemble the vertical cliffs that stone carvers carved towering columns in the Middle East.

This is the land of beefy and many arm saguaros.  

I don’t know why, but the saguaros on the back side are just different.  Check out the number of arms on the one above.  This is common on the drive.

This was one of the more interesting rock formations near the road.

You can see how wide and well graded the dirt road is here.  There were a dozen spots that were muddy and or puddled.  I only used 4x4 in one spit out of caution.  Not a road to travel when it’s real wet.  For my Prius friends, you can take this scenic road after road dries.

This is a section of road that has lots of low level cactus.  Not a place fit for man to walk though, but beautiful to see.

Above is the back side of Mt. Lemmon.  The recent cold and rain left a heavy snow pack.

I drove up to the snow line from the back side.  I stopped here, not looking to go further on the narrow forest service road.

The sign says the road is closed in the winter.

My last stop before getting to Oricle is the Trailhead for the Arizona Trail.  This trail extends from the Mexican Border to the south and Utah Border to the north.

If your looking for winter distance hiking the Arizona Trail would be excellent.  Best to plan the northern section from Flagstaff to Utah in March to avoid much of the snow.


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