register help
This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Marshall Gulch Trail #3, AZ

681 123 2
Guide 123 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
3.6 of 5 by 30
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,438 feet
Elevation Gain 529 feet
Accumulated Gain 594 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 3.18
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
11  2019-07-15
Aspen-Marshall with a hint of Mint
22  2019-06-29
WOR - Lemmon - Mint Loop
14  2019-06-29
WOR - Lemmon - Mint Loop
4  2019-06-29
Catalina Camp Trail
5  2019-06-15
Mt Lemmon Figure 8
4  2018-10-19
Santa Catalina Mountains - AZT #11
4  2018-06-02
Upper Lemmon Canyon & Pools
5  2018-05-05
Upper Lemmon Canyon & Pools
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
Author leadhiker
author avatar Guides 4
Routes 39
Photos 209
Trips 118 map ( 634 miles )
Age 79 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:06am - 6:31pm
Official Route
30 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Escape from the Heat
by leadhiker

Likely In-Season!
Anyone who has hiked the upper elevations of the Santa Catalina Mountains, more than once or twice, has probably used The Marshall Gulch Trail to link up with other trails. Many people have picnics by the parking area and use this trail just to wander in the woods. It's a great trail to take the grandkids for a little excursion. Sabino Creek is just left of the parking area as it begins its drop into the upper reaches of Sabino Canyon.

Unfortunately, the large Aspen Fire of 2003 severely burned the upper sections of the canyon and many acres of lush forest were lost and the area was eroded quite badly. The area is recovering and the new Aspens are already taller then your average man. The Marshall Gulch Trail, FS#3, climbs from the Marshall Gulch Picnic Area up to Marshall Saddle. The trail is in good condition and fairly easy to follow.

The trail starts on the west side of the parking area at the end of the road, just to the right of the restrooms. There is another trail that begins behind the restrooms, but that is not the Marshall Gulch Trail. The official Marshall Gulch Trail has a sign, and it takes off straight up the hill from the parking lot. Do not place any of your gear at the base of the sign, as this is the only place in this mountain range where I have found Poison Ivy.

After the short steep stretch at the beginning, the trail enters the wilderness area and contours up Marshall Gulch on its right hand slope through dense pine/fir forest. The stream almost always has water in it, though in the driest months it may only be occasional pools. Just as you make your first crossing of the creek a side trail comes in from your left. This is the cut through trail from behind the restrooms. Put a marker here if you will be coming back this way, as you really don't want to take the cut off trail. The last time I was up there, there was a lot of deadfall.

The trail meanders up the stream bed crossing back and forth a couple of times. After about 0.5 miles the trail crosses to the right side of the creek and then heads up, with the stream below you 35 to 50 feet. This area of the trail usually has a lot of ferns and various wildflowers.

At about 1.0 miles the trail makes a sharp left crossing of the creek for the last time. Watch for this crossing as many hikers have gone up the hill straight ahead and you can mistakenly follow their footsteps. After 1.2 miles the trail climbs up, over some flat rocks, and comes to Marshall Saddle.

Marshall Saddle is a five-way trail junction for a number of trails. The Aspen Trail, FS #93, takes off to the left and the right (north and south). To the north it is 1.3 miles and 1000 feet of gain to the top of Radio Ridge. To the south on the Aspen Trail it is 2.5 miles back to the parking area at the picnic area. The Wilderness of Rocks Trail, FS #44, continues straight ahead (west). The Mint Spring Trail, FS #20, takes off to the right (northeast) and ends at Carter Canyon Road.

Any number of round trip or loop hikes can be made using the Marshall Gulch Trail as a starting, middle or finish link. An easy 3.7 mile loop can be made by starting on the Marshall Gulch Trail to Marshall Saddle and then take the Aspen Trail to the left, stopping at "Lunch Ledge" and return to the parking lot. A little harder hike would be to do the same hike clockwise. A good work out hike with a lot of up and downs would be to start at Ski Valley and take the Aspen Draw Trail, FS#2 to the top of Radio Ridge then down the Aspen Trail looping around to the parking area at the Marshall Gulch Picnic Area, up the Marshall Gulch Trail to Marshall Saddle and then back up the Aspen Trail to Radio Ridge and back down to Ski Valley. This is a great 9.2 mile loop with 2950 feet of ascend and 2300 feet of descend.

I like to leave my vehicle in the town of Summerhaven and catch a ride to the Marshall Gulch Trailhead with someone. Then I hike out the Mint Spring or Turkey Run Trails to town and stop at the Pie Shop to reward myself for a nice day of hiking.

There are two other trails that depart from this parking area. The Aspen Trail, FS#93 leaves from the southwest corner and climbs gradually in a southerly direction. The Sunset Trail, FS #90 leaves from the southeast corner and stays on the west side of Sabino Creek for about 300 yards and then crosses the creek on some flat rocks.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-02-27 leadhiker
  • sub-region related

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 41 deeper Triplog Reviews
Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
I few months ago I came up with idea of doing a "circumnavigation of Mount Lemmon". I needed some miles, so decided to make an attempt on a late June weekend. Maybe it was a bit brash to try such a route during the summer months.

The goal was to start at Butterfly TH, go down to Crystal Springs trail, up the Oracle Control Road, down Oracle Ridge to Dan Saddle and then down to Catalina Camp, then down to CDO, up to Samaniego Ridge and then Lemmon Trail, then head down to WoR, back across Marshall Saddle, and connect with Sunset to finish the loop. A solid loop if I do say so myself, probably pretty close to a marathon with 6000+ feet of ascent.

The plan held up until Catalina Camp, where it started to get warm, and I really started to question whether I had it in me. This was the last bail-out point, and I took it. Luckily there was a trickle in the creek, so I was able to fill up before heading up Red Ridge (the first time I've had the, let's call it a privilege, of seeing this trail in the uphill direction). Surprisingly, I saw three other people on Catalina Camp and Red Ridge trails. Thought I was the only one stupid enough to be down there in late June.

When I got to Red Ridge, clouds had rolled in, and I was feeling much more alive. So I added a few miles back on by heading up the road to the ski resort, and heading down Aspen Draw (where it even sprinkled a little bit!), before taking a Mint Springs to Marshall Saddle detour.

Ended up a pretty good outing still, even if the whole circumnavigation has to wait until another (possibly cooler) day.
Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
A day spent at the pools with CJ and the pups. We took a lot of naps, swam and read while at the pools and waited out the warmer part of the day to hike the pups out. Met a ranger who let me know she did not like dogs on the way in, that was fun. Steady traffic on the trail on the way out. Several water sources along the Wilderness of Rocks Trail.
Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
This is a fun little area and was a perfect hike and hangout to get some quality time with the pups after an April full of dog watchers and the Grand Canyon.

Perfect temps and a pleasant hike on the way to the pools in the morning. We did run into one couple at the swim hole, but they left shortly after and we had the place to ourselves all day. We swam, enjoyed a couple of adult beverages and chilled at the little oasis for several hours (I have the sun burn to prove it). Lemon, like everywhere else in the state could use some rain. However, there was no shortage of water along the Wilderness of Rocks Trail and along Marshall Gulch to the Sunset, which was perfect for the pups on the hike out, as it was a little warm at times in the direct sunlight. I think this could be a fun area after a little rain.

Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Met up with Lee and Carrie for a nice hike on Lemmon. Lee and I left Phoenix fairly early and made the drive down to Tucson where we picked up Carrie and headed up the Catalina Hwy. We made the drive up and parked in a very busy parking lot at the Marshall Gulch area. From there we geared up and made the hike in. We passed a variety of people and then headed up the Aspen Trail towards the summit. Once up top we soaked in the views and headed west and took a snack break before heading down the Lemmon Trail. We then turned into Wildnerness of Rocks and headed across. This section is one of my favorite hikes around. I love the formations and enjoy the creek flowing through. At one point we took a lunch and then continued hiking back to the vehicle. We finished up late in the afternoon and then started the return. We stopped in Tucson to get some food and then dropped Carrie off and headed back to Phoenix. It was a long day but was well worth it. Thanks Lee for driving!
Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Sunset-Aspen-Marshall Loop
My son, visiting from Boston, wanted a Tucson fix. So it was lunch at El Guero Canelo and (for him only) a watermelon Eegee's.

Then up Mt. Lemmon for some cooler temps and exercise. I borrowed DarthStiller's idea to combine the Sunset Trail and Aspen/Marshall Loop and it was a good choice. No parking problems at Sunset Trailhead and we avoided the zoo at Marshall Gulch.

The trails themselves are enjoyable and scenic and were very uncrowded. Mt. Lemmon delivered with 74deg temps though the uphills were still plenty sweaty for the sweaty guys.

After the hike we headed to the Summerhaven General Store for ice cream and it started sprinkling. By the time we passed our trailhead on the way out it was pouring and continued pouring down the mountain and til we left north Tucson. Nice to finally see some rain...can't wait for some at my house in Phoenix.
Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Michelle, Sierra and I took my parents, brother and siser in law up to Mt Lemmon to hike marshall gulch and have lunch. not too crowded though the lot was full. really nice morning up there.

saw the beginnings of the burro fire on the way up and figured that would potentially be my last trip up there anytime soon :(
Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Been up here a few times lately trying to do something cool and to get back into shape after a several week hiatus out of town. The track is actually for the entire trek from Marshall Gulch to Radio Ridge and back, which includes both #3 and the upper Aspen Trails. The temps at this elevation are tolerable (7500+) for a mid day hike, about the best short hike up there. Not many people above the saddle. Some trees down but nothing to complain about. Pretty good workout, nice stop for lunch at the top, get home at a decent time. Lots of tourists riding the ski lift up.
Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Mt Lemmon Figure 8
linda and whitney had planned to hike this figure 8 on mt. lemmon
got an invite from linda to tag along :)
i've done the marshall gulch - aspen loop before, but the rest of the trails would be new to me
not quite three hours from the pecos park & ride, putting some miles on the new tundra
got going around 8:00 up aspen trail
continued on aspen up to the mt. lemmon summit area, and followed preston's track to the top
interesting stuff up there, with the pima county high point as a bonus
continued on meadow trail, then backtracked a bit to lemmon rock lookout
this was a neat little spot, with great views and a fun approach to the building
should have talked whitney into coming with us, and taking a snack break there
dropped down the mount lemmon trail through forest, with good views to the west
started seeing some of the more bouldery terrain near the intersection with wilderness of rocks
loved this trail winding through the rocks :)
a steady climb back up to the saddle
found a little bit of running water, with columbines nearby, then some shady areas up higher
passed by primus wall, where i climbed with johnr1 a few years ago
easy stroll down marshall gulch to finish
not many people out by this point
scenic drive down the catalina highway, slow going across tucson, then back to the valley
i have really enjoyed the sky island terrain recently and this hike was a nice sampler of the available trails up high
highlights included wilderness of rocks trail, mt. lemmon summit, and lemmon rock lookout
nice to meet and hike with whitney and another good hike with linda
in fact, eight of my twelve new peaks so far this year have been with linda
thanks for including me on this one :)
Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Mt Lemmon Torture Fest
big day up on lemmon. i parked at the mt lemmon trailhead. went down aspen draw, upper sabino riparian to summerhaven and back. loaded up the pack then hit mt lemmon, wilderness of rocks, marshall gulch to TH and back, then died up radio ridge on the aspen trail back to my car.

i've recently highlited the post winter conditions of some of these trails. new reports:

Aspen Draw: from the top of radio ridge to the upper sabino riparian juntion is clear. there is a nuisance tree down on the spur to ski valley parking lot

upper sabino riparian: a couple of big down trees that are surprisingly tough to get over/around depending on the route you take (these are on the singletrack, not the nearby wider roadbed.

Mt lemmon: totally clear to WOR from my recollection. awesome of course

Wilderness of Rocks: clear from my recollection. love love love this trail. not much water in upper lemmon creek but definitely some

heading into the beastly final climb up aspen trail to radio ridge nearly killed me today. Wow

cold at the start (upper 30's at 9000 feet)

killer route
Marshall Gulch Trail #3
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Sunset Rumble
went for a big run up on lemmon. got my pumpkin handed to me on call yesterday so i wasn't expecting much but i figured i'd go to my happy place and see what happens.

route: sunset-marshall gulch-aspen to radio ridge-aspen-sunset-drainage trail and bear wallow to the FSRs up to Little Bigs (my name for it) and back.

sunset: wide open and no issues, other than awesome views
marshall gulch: wide open, no issues. there is some water currently
upper aspen to radio ridge: counted about 10 downed trees a couple of which are a nuisance to get over due to where they fell
lower aspen from saddle to marshall TH: counted about 10 more downed trees, one or two were nuisance.

good weather with a helpful breeze. happy with the effort given the low gas tank heading into it

Permit $$
Visit this link for full details.

There are four specific day use areas that require a Coronado Recreational Pass or a National Pass/America the Beautiful Pass.
1) Sabino Canyon - located on the Santa Catalina Ranger District (520)749-8700
2) Madera Canyon - located on the Nogales Ranger District (520)281-2296
3) Cave Creek - located on the Douglas Ranger District (520)364-3468
4) Mt. Lemmon at 11 day use sites.

Catalina State Park $6 per day. Sabino Canyon Tram is $10 extra.

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Marshall Gulch Trailhead
From Tucson, at the intersection of Tanque Verde and Catalina Highway, go North on the Catalina Highway just over 30 miles. You will pass the small community of Summerhaven. The road ends at Marshall Gulch picnic area. You really can't miss it, it's all the way to the end. The parking is limited so come early!

Take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road in Tucson. Drive 4.2 miles to the Forest boundary and continue 26 miles through Summerhaven to the Marshall Gulch Picnic Area. All roads are paved, but chains or 4-wheel drive may be required in winter because of snow. The trailhead is at the end of the road. You'll have to walk the last couple of hundred yards in winter when the road into the picnic area is gated closed.
page created by leadhiker on Feb 27 2009 5:21 pm
help comment issue

end of page marker