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Mount Lemmon / Lemmon Rock Loop
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mini location map2016-09-04
17 by photographer avatarDarthStiller
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Mount Lemmon / Lemmon Rock LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 04 2016
Hiking12.70 Miles 4,009 AEG
Hiking12.70 Miles   7 Hrs   30 Mns   1.69 mph
4,009 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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It is a long slog from Romero Pass back up to the top of Mt. Lemmon.

Having a 3 day weekend, I wanted to make another trip back down to Tucson to explore this area a little more. It's always a long day getting there from Mesa, mostly due to the traffic through Tucson. I picked the Mt. Lemmon/Lemmon Rock loop, and decided to add a spur of the Mt. Lemmon Trail, taking it all the way down to Romero Pass, where it junctions with the Romero Canyon Trail. I had been there over 6 years ago with johnlp and groth, when we did Romero Canyon. Today Wally was the only person who was crazy enough to try this hike with me.

The official track for the loop says about 8.3 miles and 2300' AEG. When I found another track for the Mt. Lemmon Trail, the added distance and AEG for the spur I wanted looked it would add about another 3.4 miles (making a total of 11.7 for the day), and maybe another 1000' AEG. It turned out to be a total of 12.7 miles, and over 4000' of AEG :-k . I am feeing it the next day, haven't been this sore for a long time. While my hikes last year and this year have picked up in mileage, they have also gone down in terms of AEG, so I paid for that on this hike.

We got an early start to the day and ended up at the Mt. Lemmon TH at 7:30am, before the hordes arrived. We took the Meadow Trail 5A as recommended by Fricknaley in his description. It is very nice with the meadows and very shady sections. The temperature was cool enough at the start that wally even wore his windbreaker for a little bit.

We got to the junction of the Wilderness of Rocks Trail fairly quickly, and continued our way down to Romero Pass. The trail quickly got steeper, narrower, and harder to walk on with the loose footing. My knees and toes were starting to hurt on the way down and it seemed to take forever to get to Romero Pass, which we could see from a half mile up the trail. Still, we arrived at Romero Pass less than three hours after we started hiking. It would take much longer to hike back out. :stretch:

After our lunch at Romero Pass, we started the slog back uphill. That section of the Mt. Lemmon Trail back up to the junction of the WOR trail was relentless. The shade we had just an hour or so before was all mostly gone by now, making the temps just warm enough to make it a little harder to hike. The WOR Trail gave us a break from the climbing, with some fairly level hiking and a few more downhill spots. Some of the downhill spots were steep enough to require more effort than I was in the mood for at that point. There were a lot of nice stream crossing along this trail, and in one spot I saw some tadpoles, which would amount to all the wildlife I got to see on this hike. I spent some extra time taking some photos of the water and the rock formations along this trail.

Finally I arrived at the junction of the Lemmon Rock Trail, and the last section of the grueling slog back up was before us. It starts out gradually enough, but soon you're in the steep section, navigating the switchbacks. At this point I was just moving in slow motion. I wanted to try to move quicker, but my body wouldn't cooperate. I just kept going, taking breaks when necessary. it didn't help that about halfway up, I ran out of water.

Once you reach the dirt road, and get back on the Mt. Lemmon Trail, the climbing isn't done. It's really not much, but after getting off the Lemmon Rock Trail, it seems like a lot. Once we finally arrived back at the parking lot, I was surprised to see how crowded it was seeing as we didn't see many hikers on the trails. The Labor Day horde of tourists had arrived in full force, and were occupying all the parking spaces, picnic tables, bathrooms, etc. As Wally and I took our time changing shoes and shirts, and rehydrating, drivers would enter and exit the small lot and hover like a Costco shopper on a Saturday afternoon. We finally got out of the lot, only to see the traffic parked all along both sides of the road for a quarter mile. One SUV had parked right on the edge of the road and slid into a ditch, getting stuck and left abandoned. :lol:

We followed the traffic all the way back down the Catalina Highway, and thru Tucson. Once we were back on 79 north, it was an easier drive. Got home by 7:30pm, just enough time to throw the steaks on the grill, and have an Arizona Trail Ale, which seemed like an appropriate choice since we had actually hiked on the AZT earlier in the day.
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