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This trail follows one of the earliest known routes to the top of Mt. Lemmon and is believed to be the trail that John and Sara Lemmon followed in the early 1880's.

This trail is listed as #1 for some very good reasons. First, it follows one of the earliest known routes to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Second, it is believed to be the trail that John and Sara Lemmon followed, in the early 1880's, on their trip to the summit of the mountain which was later named in Sara's honor. This trail is reportedly where biologist Lemmon saw his first Arizona pine. Actually a subspecies or variety of ponderosa pine, this was the first of roughly 100 plant species and subspecies Lemmon catalogued in the state's southern mountains.

In spite of the fact that the Oracle Ridge Trail has been traveled for so long a time, it is quite hard to follow in a number of places. One reason is that the area through which it passes has long been a center of mining and prospecting activity. As a result, old mining roads and bulldozer paths have obscured the trail in several places. If you are a history buff, you'll appreciate the old and not-so-old mines you encounter along this route. If your interests tend toward more natural sights, you'll probably spend more time taking in the views which stretch to the north, east and west. The Oracle Ridge Trail passes very near the summit of Rice Peak and relatively near the summit of Apache Peak. These promontories offer good views of Mt. Lemmon and the Santa Catalinas, as well as of the historic mining district around the town of Oracle and the basin and range landscape beyond.

This trail can be hard to follow in places. Use a topographic map and a compass. There are no reliable water sources along this trail! Old mining shafts may be unstable and not safe to enter. When hiking in remote areas, go with a companion whenever possible. Always tell someone where you've gone and when you expect to return.

Directions: From Tucson, From Tucson: Take the Catalina Highway off Tanque Verde Road. Drive 4.2 miles to the Forest boundary and continue 25 miles to a point past the Loma Linda Picnic Area where the Control Road (FR 38) turns right and passes the Mt. Lemmon Fire Station. Follow this road straight, past the fire station and down the ridge. Just beyond the first cattle guard, the trail leaves a parking area on the left side of the road and cuts through a notch in the ridge.

Elevation: 4,800 feet

Ending Elevation: 9,000 feet

Elevation Gain: 4,200 feet

Distance: 11.5 miles

Usage: Light

Difficulty: Strenuous

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Coronado National Forest, Arizona

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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