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

Red Ridge Trail #2, AZ

188 39 1
Guide 39 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
3.8 of 5 by 10
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,700 feet
Elevation Gain 3,236 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,452 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 Hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.5
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
4  2019-06-29
Catalina Camp Trail
7  2018-09-06
Oracle Ridge - Red Ridge Loop
1  2018-06-03
Oracle Ridge - Red Ridge Loop
7  2018-03-21
Oracle Ridge - Red Ridge Loop
5  2017-08-06
Oracle Ridge: Upper TH to Dan Saddle
4  2016-05-03 rvcarter
15  2015-07-25
Red Ridge and Canada del Oro Loop
18  2015-07-25
Red Ridge and Canada del Oro Loop
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Jeffshadows
author avatar Guides 28
Routes 20
Photos 672
Trips 169 map ( 1,088 miles )
Age 41 Male Gender
Location Old Pueblo
Co-Author fricknaley
co-author avatarGuides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,743 map (18,146 Miles)
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Sep, Aug, Oct → Any
Seasons   Early Summer to Early Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:27pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Water's really more of a vermilion
by Jeffshadows & fricknaley

Likely In-Season!
2012 Note: The following description is retained for historical purposes. As of 2012 topographical maps now show the old "East Fork Trail" labeled as #2. Therefore page stats and the "Official Route" have been updated.

Background: The Red Ridge Trail (FS #2) leaves a junction near Catalina Camp and climbs 3.2 miles and just over 2400' to a trailhead on the road into Ski Valley atop Mt. Lemmon. To this point, there are some who would argue that the true course of the Red Ridge trail includes a section of trail that leaves the junction at Catalina Camp and connects to the Canada Del Oro trail; however, this piece of trail is more appropriately called the "East Fork" trail, despite not being signed. The Southern Arizona Hiking Club currently calls this section of trail a piece of the Arizona Trail and nothing more. The earliest reference to the naming of either of these trails comes from first edition of the "Trail Guide to the Santa Catalina Mountains" which calls the course of the trail leaving Catalina Camp and arriving in Loma Linda the Red Ridge Trail and the section that joins Canada del Oro the East Fork Trail; this interpretation is widely respected and will be here. Both sections of trail are visible on the 1958 Mount Lemmon quadrangle following their current courses, though neither appear named.

Red Ridge itself is likely so named due to the presence of high iron content in the soil along its course. The rocks and soil along the trail vary in shades of red and orange, which makes the track of the trail distinct from the course of the other trails in the vicinity, most of which are laden with grey shale and granite rubble.

Author's Note: Leaving from the trailhead at Loma Linda, the trail will take a course opposite that of this description; this description assumes one is leaving the junction at Catalina Camp.

Hike: From the trail junction at Catalina Camp, the trail winds down to an unnamed stream that flows in bottom of the canyon between Oracle and Red Ridge. This stream is intermittent, at best, and should not be relied upon as a source of water. The trail begins to climb away from the stream in a due westerly direction. Cairns should mark the departure point from the stream. The rationale for the name of the ridge the trail is now following becomes immediately apparent as the track crosses over rubble and scree that is colored with varying red hues. The trail continues to climb, steadily, basically following the path of the ridge line itself. After climbing a steep grade for one and two-thirds miles, the trail has gained a thousand feet in elevation and comes to the first of three clearings. These clearings are the only places along the trail course that can be called level. This clearing includes a great view back into Canada del Oro canyon and the tin shed near Hartman mine is visible on the ride in the distance. On the west side of the trail a great view of Reef of Rock is available. A small fire ring designates this clearing as a popular camping spot.

After leaving the clearing, the trail begins to climb, once again generally following the course of the ridge line. The track is now covered by litter from the juniper and pinyon that populate the area, and the grade becomes slightly less steep. After two and one-third miles the trail approaches another small clearing. Excellent views of Reef of Rock are available for the price of a short walk off-trail to the west. After leaving the clearing, the track leaves the ridge and begins to wind through owl clover and catclaw. The evidence of the Aspen fire is now a permanent part of the landscape and the track becomes harder to follow as the scrub that predominates this area has begun to overgrow its course. Look for engineering tape hung on pine limbs and wrapped around downed trees to rejoin the course if you lose it. After two-thirds of a mile the low scrub begins to give way to a wider track and a sprinkling of wildflowers along with the signature red scree and rubble. The track approaches a large downed tree blocking the course, though hikers have already beaten an alternative course around the tree. After passing this obstacle, the track arrives in the final clearing which skirts the mouth of Canada del Oro canyon. This section of canyon contains a section of pristine ponderosa forest that was spared from fires and provides an awe-inspiring vista to stop and enjoy. The fire station at Control road is visible above the canyon to the East.

After leaving this final clearing, the track takes on a steeper grade and begins to climb through the open forest along the upper stretch of Red Ridge. It appears that the trail will continue to the apex of the ridge, but it turns sharply east and begins to wind its way around the final portion of the ridge. Here the track encounters a young aspen forest flanking the trail and then winds back westward as a view of the road leading to Ski Valley comes into view, below. The final section of trail descends into the trailhead at the road to Ski Valley; this area of the mountain is also known as Loma Linda.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2008-08-11 Jeffshadows & fricknaley
  • 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 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
Red Ridge Trail #2
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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.
Red Ridge Trail #2
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We started at 6:30 thinking we would beat the heat, but it was already scorching on Oracle Ridge by seven. Luckily there was some intermittent spots of shade and some lightly flowing water at the creek crossing. However, overall the hike was much warmer than what we wanted for the pups. I guess you need to start at 4:30 in the morning to beat the heat on this one. Heat aside, we still enjoyed the hike and the dogs did fine, just a few extra breaks in the shade and a lot of water consumed. We didn’t feel like walking the dogs back on the paved road, so CJ put on her running shoes and got the car while I waited with the pack.

No rain or snow in the winter, locked out of the woods a week before Memorial Day and too hot to hike dogs at 8k, Arizona sure is a lovely state to live in lately. Thankful to be completing my annual summer exodus from here soon.
Red Ridge Trail #2
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I found myself in Tucson to pick up a couple of dogs, so I figured why not hang out a day and hike Lemmon? After all, it is spring break.

I got this hike idea from @carriejane a couple weekends ago, when she pondered (after seeing a trail heading down from Oracle) if there was a way to loop Red Ridge Trail with Oracle Ridge during our hike to Rice Peak. When we got back we looked on HAZ and found a description for the exact loop she was thinking of, so I decided to try it out today.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent little loop. The cabin is a fun stop and the creek was flowing nicely. Red Ridge Trail is a stout little climb, but the trail offers some excellent views and the few remaining trees from the past forest fire add a little charm to some of the sections along the trail. I would not want to do the road walk on a busy weekend, but it was not too bad today. There were a lot of cows in the lower section of the loop.
Red Ridge Trail #2
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good to be back in the mountains. as expected there were a ton of flowers along upper oracle ridge.

catalina camp trail is a little overgrown but fine. the camp is in pretty good shape.

red ridge is a great trail, even provides some shade for the sharp ascent.

great loop as always.
Red Ridge Trail #2
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Oracle Ridge/Canada del Oro Loop
I wanted to hike CDO again, but with a few changes from the Red Ridge loop we did last year. We travelled down Oracle Ridge and also started from the top of Lemmon, taking care of Aspen Draw and the road at the beginning.

Oracle Ridge was great in the cool morning weather. Catalina Camp is just as amusing a trip as I remember it being last year. There was water near the trail from the CC/RR junction all the way to the homestretch of the CDO trail. Since I finally remembered to bring a filter, we were able to refill our water a few times (I easily finished 4 liters and a big gatorade). Cooling down in the water made a big difference too.

Now for the whining: wear long pants. The trails are easy enough to follow, but my shins and knees got pretty torn up in the overgrowth - especially above 6k on CDO and in the burnt-out portions of Sutherland. That being said, CDO is gorgeous from all the recent rains and it was still worth the annoyance. There's a lot of climbing to do in the final miles of this hike, but my CO trip left my legs in good shape, so nearly all of my ranting was at the overgrown trails.
Red Ridge Trail #2
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Finally back in AZ! Got a chance to go on Oracle Ridge/Red Ridge Loop with Randy, Frank, and Sharon. Beautiful day, great trail, excellent hiking buds, but the climb up up Red Ridge after being out of commission back east for 4 weeks, kicked my butt. That's what happens when you grip nothing harder than a steering wheel and lift nothing heavier than Yuengling Lights for a month. I think the elevation was a factor also. I love this loop, but the climb up Red was relentless. Lots of flowing water at Catalina Camp.
Red Ridge Trail #2
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Sweet lollipop route: up OR#1 to Dan Saddle > west down CC#401 > up RR#2 > road walk east to upper trailhead and back down Oracle Ridge. Single track trail sections are in good condition, dirt road sections are decent. Plenty of clear, cold flow in East Fork creek at the CC#401 / RR#2 junction.
Red Ridge Trail #2
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Started a little before noon down the Red Ridge Trail. We took a little detour to the Catalina Camp, which I'd never visited (I took the liberty of tinkering with the mileage and AEG; hopefully that's kosher...). The lower sections of the loop were pretty warm, but since you don't have to climb much, it wasn't too bad.

The CDO trail is terrific. If it was more easily accessible, it would be as popular as any trail in southern AZ. It must be amazing to hike this in autumn. The route finding is easy for the most part. It disappeared a few times around 3-5 miles up the canyon, but the path-of-least-resistance put us back on the trail each of those times. A couple places before the switchbacks are pretty overgrown. The final climb out of the canyon to the Samaniego Ridge trail is really fun ;)

Aspen Draw Trail at sunset (with no mountain bikers) was a great way to end this hike.

This is a tough hike for July. I brought over a gallon and a half of water and Gatorade, and that wound up being just enough. 2 gallons and/or a purification system would probably be smart in this heat.
Red Ridge Trail #2
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I did a loop on the north side of the Catalinas in a place I have never been, before. Views are impressive, but the forest isn't coming back very well after the fire. Got back to my car well after dark the the air was cold! I think the best part of this hike is the upper end, both Red Ridge, and Oracle Ridge, as the oak and shrubby zones aren't super nice. Water in the creek, too.
Red Ridge Trail #2
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Oracle Ridge - Catalina Camp - Red Ridge Loop. The Oracle Ridge Trail was great - ferns and flowers at the start and big views as usual. In just a spot or two the small Arizona Trail sections that bypass the road the trail was a little indistinct - but never hard to follow. On Catalina Camp I lost the wind an it was a bit hot. The real surprise for me was that when we arrived at the East Fork of the CDO there was flowing water! Red Ridge was just as steep as ever...


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
Connector trail - Not Applicable

To hike
The trail can be reached from the road that leads to Ski Valley atop Mount Lemmon. From Speedway and Campbell in Tucson, head east on Speedway and turn north on Kolb. Turn East on Tanque Verde and continue until Catalina Highway, at which point turn north onto the highway. Follow the highway into Summerhaven, the turnoff for Ski Valley is just before the town. Turn toward Ski Valley and park at the signed Canada del Oro trailhead.
page created by Jeffshadows on Aug 11 2008 8:34 pm
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