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Wilderness of Rocks #44, AZ

Guide 168 Triplogs  3 Topics
  4.4 of 5 
1.3k 168 3
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,970 feet
Elevation Gain -685 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,300 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.33
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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13  2020-05-09
Mount Lemmon Summit
7  2020-04-30
Lemmon Pools & WOR
5  2020-01-11
Santa Catalina Mountains - AZT #11
8  2019-10-11
AZT In A Day 2019
15  2019-09-13
Upper Lemmon Canyon & Pools
7  2019-08-24
Mount Lemmon / Lemmon Rock Loop
11  2019-07-15
Aspen-Marshall with a hint of Mint
22  2019-06-29
WOR - Lemmon - Mint Loop
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Author Lizard
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 0
Photos 403
Trips 17 map ( 75 miles )
Age 40 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, - - → 9 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:39am - 5:35pm
Official Route
43 Alternative

Summer Heat Escape
by Lizard

Page statistics are for trail #44. Description below is from a place you can park.

There are lots of ways to access the Wilderness of Rocks area. This hike takes the simplest and most direct route. If all the parking at the smallish trailhead is taken, as it often is during summer, you can go down to Marshall Gulch Picnic Area (see Joe's description of the Aspen Loop) and access the Marshall Saddle trail junction that way.

Starting from Carter Canyon road, the trail climbs uphill for a short ways and then contours around the mountain through a scenic spruce and fir forest. It passes by Mint Spring and then heads over to Marshall Saddle and a confusing trail junction. The Wilderness of Rocks trail takes off to the west, winding through very large granite boulders, a preview of what's to come. The trail eventually reaches the head of a stream course. It follows the small permanent stream down, jumping from one side to the other. Small aspens grow in the canyon. Soon after passing a junction with the Lemmon Rocks Lookout trail, the trail snakes across an outcrop of granite that marks the beginning of the Wilderness of Rocks. The granite formations get more and more spectacular as you go along. Hoodoos, balanced rocks, and water-carved canyons abound. The trail gets faint at times when it cross stretches of bare rock, but it is well-cairned and easy to follow for the most part.

The trail climbs out of the basin and the rocks, and into piney uplands on the far side. Very soon after than, the trail passes a small pocket meadow and climbs uphill briefly to meet a junction with the Mountain Lemmon trail. This is where I turned around. Save your energy on the hike in, as it is a mostly uphill climb all the way back to your car.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2002-01-22 Lizard
  • sub-region related

Coronado FS Details
The name of this trail certainly does catch the attention of anyone scanning a trail map or thumbing through a guide book. The Wilderness of Rock Trail is extremely popular and with good reason. Picturesque rock formations and a diversity of settings that range from sub-alpine to high desert to riparian zone attract so many people that this area is somewhat overused by backpackers and day hikers. Trampling of the area is so heavy in some places that the trail has become difficult to follow and hikers have become lost. Be sure to follow the marked trail carefully. Watch for rock cairns (small stacks of rocks) to guide you through difficult areas.

As you move into this natural sculpture gallery and see the art works of wind and water from a number of different perspectives, you'll be amazed at the variety of shapes they can assume. Long distance views are good in this area too, including Mt. Lemmon, Sabino Basin and Pusch Ridge. Lemmon Creek, near the Marshall Saddle, is a popular destination on this trail. If you camp here, remember to practice sound wilderness and Leave No Trace ethics and camp at least 200 feet from the water.

This trail can be accessed from a number of different connecting trails. It is possible to plan a hike here that includes many of the major features of the Santa Catalinas. Some of the most popular access routes include the Marshall Gulch #3, Aspen #93, Romero #8 and the West Fork #24 trails.

Spectacular natural sculptures
Great long distance views
Access to other trails
Several loop possibilities
Arizona Trail segment

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.

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 hike
Take the Catalina Highway out of Tucson and into the Santa Catalinas. Turn left into the town of Summerhaven, then turn right onto Carter Canyon Road. The trailhead parking area is unmarked, no more than a widening in the road right before it turns into a private driveway. The actual trailhead is on the south side of the road, somewhat hidden right near the entrance to the private driveway.
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