During the summer Mt. Lemmon is a great area to get away from the oppressive heat of the valley. It is possible to hike in 70 degree while temperatures in Tucson are over 100 degrees. Today I chose to hike out of Soldier Lake about three miles from the small community of Summerhaven, Arizona.
The Hike: I started out hiking the Sunset Trail which is approximately 1.6 miles long. It descends through a forest of conifers to the Marshall Gulch trail head. In the future I would probably skip this trail and start at Marshall Gulch. One plus of the Sunset Trail is that the forest did not burn during the Aspen Fire of 2003 so most of the Ponderosa pines are more impressive. The next part of today's hike is on the Marshall Gulch Trail This trail is 1.2 miles long. The first 0.7 miles is in Marshall Gulch which is a nice water source for most of the year. While the view is not splendid in Marshall Gulch I did see three species of wildflowers including Mountain columbine. The last half mile the trail climbs to Marshall Saddle. At 7920 feet this saddle provides the first view of the upper part of Mount Lemmon and the Wilderness of Rock part of the Pusch Wilderness. I returned to Soldier Canyon by way of the Aspen Trail (2.5 miles). This trail was my favorite because of the views toward the valley. The forest in this part of Mount Lemmon is still recovering from the Aspen Fire of 2003. I saw many mature Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs with fire scars as well as many three to four foot conifers growing. This trail shows the power of fire and rejuvenation as well. The last part of the loop was on the Sunset Trail. Total mileage 6.9 miles.