Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
6,607.00 ft (2,013.81 m)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
18.50 mi (29.77 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

AZT Passage 11: Santa Catalina Mountains is a 18.5-mile point-to-point section of the roughly 800-mile Arizona National Scenic Trail. This challenging section runs from the Gordon Hirabayashi Campground to Marshall Gulch Trailhead and is located northeast of Tucson, AZ. This section is accessible for runners, hikers, long-distance backpackers, and mountain bikers. 

Passage 11 traverses the Santa Catalina Mountains, including Sabino Canyon and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. This section features extreme changes in elevation and climate, along with unique biodiversity and refreshing swimming pools - a rare treat along the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT)!

The trail rises and falls through dry grasslands, deep canyons, and dense forests. It features spectacular swimming holes, sentinel saguaros, and steep, strenuous miles. 

This section begins with a descent towards Sabino Canyon, a spectacular desert oasis with lush valleys and rich riparian corridors tucked between rocky canyon cliffs. The trail winds along the West Fork of Sabino Canyon and passes by Hutch’s Pool, a spectacular swimming hole, and fantastic camping spot tucked away in the mountains. These unique desert watering holes are popular amongst the Tucson locals and can get crowded on the weekends.

After leaving Hutch’s Pool, the trail climbs steeply through dense forests and granite boulders, including a vertical mile to reach Romero Pass.

The trail continues to climb northeast towards Mount Lemmon, the highest point in the Santa Catalinas,  where temperatures can be up to 20 degrees cooler than in the valley (a side trip to the summit would add 6.8 miles to the total length of this passage). 

Within the Wilderness of Rocks, the trail continues to rise and fall through a dense forest of pine trees and oaks. It passes through granite outcrops with unique rock formations, crosses Lemmon Creek, and then makes a final, short descent to Marshall Gulch and the end of this passage.

DIRECTIONS

From the Gordon Hirabayashi Trailhead head west on a dirt road which eventually becomes a trail.

Follow Sycamore Reservoir Trail (#39) along Sycamore Canyon. 

Drop into the East Fork of Sabino Canyon and continue along the canyon.

Cross Box Camp Canyon and then begin a long uphill along the West Fork of Sabino Canyon.

Pass Hutch’s Pool and the Cathedral Rock Trail (#26) to reach Romero Pass.

Continue uphill to the Wilderness of Rocks Trail (#44). It follows this trail to the east and then northeast

Wilderness of Rocks Trail (#44) to Marshall Gulch Trail (#3) to Marshall Gulch TH on Forest Road 10.

WATER
Check the Arizona Trail Water Report for current information at: https://aztrail.org/explore/water-sources/.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION INFORMATION

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Biodiversity. Swimming holes. Campgrounds.

Cons

Crowds.

Trailhead Elevation

4,860.00 ft (1,481.33 m)

Highest point

8,008.00 ft (2,440.84 m)

Features

Wildlife
Backcountry camping
Near lake or river
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

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