Location

  • Gordon Hirabayashi Trailhead to Oracle Ridge Trailhead

Length

  • 21.6 miles

Southern Trailhead: Gordon Hirabayashi Trailhead

Access

Follow Tanque Verde Road east from Tucson and turn left (north) on the Catalina Highway. Drive about 9 miles and pass Molino Basin Campground. Continue 1.7 miles beyond the campground and take the left (west) turn to Gordon Hirabayashi Campground. Drive 0.3 miles to a parking area. Follow a trail out of the south end of the parking lot for 40 yards to reach a “T” intersection with the AZT.


Northern Trailhead: Oracle Ridge Trailhead

Access

From Tucson, head north on Catalina Highway high into the Santa Catalina Mountains toward the town of Summerhaven. After passing Loma Linda Picnic Area and just before the road to Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, turn northeast (right) on FR 38 (Mt. Lemmon Control Road). Pass the Fire Station on the east (right) side of the road and follow the dirt road a short distance downhill. Look for the trailhead for Oracle Ridge on the west (left) side of the road where there is space for a few passenger vehicles.


Trail Route Description

The Pusch Ridge Wilderness Bypass is an alternate route for trail users to avoid the wilderness area. The ATA strongly recommends this route for equestrians so they can avoid the difficult northern section of passage 11 (Santa Catalina Mountains). This bypass is better than passage 11 for equestrians but is still a very difficult route.

From the Gordon Hirabayashi Trailhead the route goes across the Catalina Highway and then follows the Bug Springs Trail. Then it goes on the Green Mountain Trail to the Incinerator Ridge Trail, and then on the Butterfly Trail. It joins the Crystal Spring Trail which ends on the Control Road. This road takes you to the Oracle Ridge Trailhead and the end of the bypass.


Difficulty

  • Moderate to Difficult

Season(s)

All year. Snow can be present at higher elevations after winter storms and lower elevations can be quite warm in summer (current weather forecast)


Water

Water may be found at Novio Spring, Crystal Spring, and Green Spring.


Notes/Warnings

  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.

Resources

  • USGS Topographic Maps: Agua Caliente Hill, Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon.
  • Coronado National Forest map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information


Current Passage Info

More Trails Reopened on Mt. Lemmon (Santa Catalina Mountains)

The Coronado National Forest has updated the Bighorn Fire Closure Order to include the reopening of trails impacted by the Bighorn Fire. Most trails in the Santa Catalina Mountains remain closed, including the majority of the front range trails close to Tucson. Passage 10, 11, and 12 of the Arizona National Scenic Trail have been reopened. Passage 11b - Pusch Ridge Wilderness Bypass is not yet entirely open due to some extreme hazards and potential for continued degradation due to flash flooding. The ATA, along with the Passage Stewards, conservation Crews, other user groups, and the forest service are working to evaluate, stabilize, and improve the tread for preservation, safety, and sustainability of the route where it follows Green Mountain Trail between Bear Saddle and San Pedro Vista. Connectivity between trails throughtou the Santa Catalina Ranger District is still severely limited since most of the mountain was impacted by the Bighorn Fire, which scorched a total of 119,978 acres. Due to the possibility of severe flash floods, all trails on the mountain should be avoided if rain is in the forecast. The Arizona Trail Association has conducted on-the-ground trail conditions assessments, but the possibility of falling trees, rolling rocks, unstable...
Read More
Thinking of Thru-Hiking or Thru-Riding the Arizona Trail This Year?

Thinking of Thru-Hiking or Thru-Riding the Arizona Trail This Year?

Summertime is when hundreds of hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians are planning the logistics of a long-distance trip on the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT). Especially since many individuals canceled their springtime AZT adventures due to COVID-19, the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) has been anticipating the busiest autumn in history. However, Arizona’s intense wildfire season – with three major wildfires burning more than 100 miles of the AZT – and a recent spike in Arizona’s COVID-19 cases has led the ATA to discourage thru-hiking and thru-riding this year. We know how disappointing this is going to be for so many people. A southbound hike or ride from Utah to Mexico along the AZT is the adventure of a lifetime, and normally we would be encouraging everyone to use these uncertain times to hit the trail. But widespread trail closures with no safe or reasonable detours combined with Arizona becoming a global hot spot for the novel coronavirus has created an unsafe situation for “thrus” in 2020. In southern Arizona, the Bighorn Fire burned 120,000 acres on the Coronado National Forest, including AZT Passages 10, 11 and 12 through the Santa Catalina Mountains, as well as the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Bypass....
Read More