Another research and elevation training trip in the Catalinas. Really liking this area and the drive down isnt even that bad, either. Wanting to explore some new areas, I brought Sanchez with me this time. Right when we parked the Jeep near the Red Ridge trailhead, we saw several deer so we knew it was going to be a great hike. We started down the Oracle Ridge trail where the views were great due to the high visibility of the day. I am always so surprised how lush the Catalinas can be. We started bear singing just in case. Sanchez had no interest in hitting the Pinal high point, though we were so close, so we just went down the hill at the saddle and to the old camp. Not sure how long ago there were operations here, but there was a lot of equipment down there. The cabin was in good shape and it had some cool features, like a sun deck, a BBQ grill, and even a squatter. The hike up Red Ridge was fairly smooth as it was a long hike back up to the top so the grade was easy going. Seems like there is a lot more to explore out here.. would like to do the whole front range soon.
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.
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.
Frank B, Frank E, Niel, and I did the loop in fine weather. The loop is a great day hike, but seems harder since the uphill portion is on the last half of the hike and the Red Ridge is so steep. The connector trail (#401) down from Dan Saddle seems to have deteriorated quite a bit since our last time. The rocks are "rolly" and you have to watch every step to prevent turning an ankle. It reminded me of the lower part of the Sutherland Trail. I put most of the trip details in the description just posted.
Wear long pants; the thorny bushes (mostly Mexican buckthorne) are trying to reclaim their trail on the upper third of Red Ridge, and #401 has some cats claw.
All in all, fine day out with my hiking buds.
Check out my Instagram posts at "cartershift", and videos on my Rumble channel "rvcarter".
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.
average hiking speed 2.07 mph
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.