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Lemmon Pools and Aspen Marshall Loop, AZ
mini location map2021-07-10
21 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Lemmon Pools and Aspen Marshall Loop, AZ 
Lemmon Pools and Aspen Marshall Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 10 2021
Hiking12.94 Miles 2,564 AEG
Hiking12.94 Miles   8 Hrs   32 Mns   2.02 mph
2,564 ft AEG   2 Hrs   7 Mns Break
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
We headed back to the Tucson area for the second time in three weeks, seeking some cooler weather in the higher elevation. I'd hiked various trails on Mt. Lemmon a few times before, but our destination today was Lemmon Pools, a new spot for me...I just hoped that there had been enough rain recently that the pools would have some water.

It had been more than two years since I last hiked at Mt. Lemmon, and the long drive up the mountain was more scenic than I remembered, with the landscape transitioning from desert/cacti to pine trees with the elevation gain. We started from Marshall Gulch Trailhead, which was predictably full, but there was still plenty of parking in the two smaller lots near the trailhead at ~8AM.

There was a little water and some pools in the small creek crossings along Marshall Gulch Trail, which was a positive sign, and we passed a few rain gauges with water in them near the burned area along Marshall Gulch. We connected with Wilderness of Rocks Trail and saw more water and pools as we continued west until we left the trail to make our way to Lemmon Pools. There was a fairly well-worn unofficial trail among the boulders that led to an easy scramble down to the pools. I heard trickling water as we made our way down and was happy to see that the pool had plenty of water, though it was dark enough that we couldn't tell how deep it was. There was a small waterfall flowing from the upper pools into the lowest pool, and though I'm sure the flow is much more impressive in wetter years, I was just happy to see any water flowing at all.

[ youtube video ]

It's a really enjoyable area, with plenty of shade and flat rocks for sitting under the trees. We were lucky enough to have it to ourselves, but only for a few minutes before the crowds started showing up. Four trail runners came down and started jumping off the rocks into the pool, confirming that it was deep enough to safely jump in, and they eventually climbed around to the upper pools. As a second and third group showed up, we decided to skip going in the water and continue the hike...and a fourth group was headed in as we made our way back out. At least we had a few minutes of quiet there...

Before we got back on on the official trail, we stopped at an overlook just above Lemmon Pools, which offered great views looking south over the Wilderness of Rocks and the more distant peaks. The views along the western half of Wilderness of Rocks Trail are especially nice, with a lot of balancing rocks and unique geology. We made the intersection with Mt. Lemmon Trail our turnaround point and headed back toward Marshall Gulch as some afternoon thunderheads started to build. On the hike out, we followed Aspen Trail to see some new terrain, and the clouds were starting to get a little more serious as we finished.

The temperature climbed steadily as we drove back down Mt. Lemmon, starting in the 80s and reaching 108° in Tucson. It ended up being a beautiful and exciting drive back to Phoenix. Soon after a second dust storm alert came through, we could see the dust cloud approaching I-10 from the east, but we were far enough north that it stayed behind us. At the same time, we had a beautiful sunset to the northwest, and rain and lightning to the northeast as thunderstorms approached Phoenix. Lots of great clouds, plus a dust storm, the sunset, and thunderstorms happening at the same time on different parts of the exciting end to a fun day on Mt. Lemmon.
Dust Storm Haboob Sunset

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Lemmon Creek @ WOR #44 Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Lemmon Pools 26-50% full 26-50% full
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout
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