Access Special Backpacker.com Features, Register Now!

Tucson, AZ: Marshall Gulch to Aspen Trail Loop

A high-altitude intro to the Santa Catalina Mountains, this trail literally sparkles as it circles Marshall Peak for an easy, 3.3-mile loop through the Pusch Wilderness Area.

Rating

This route follows the popular Marshall Gulch Trail #33 to the Aspen Trail #93, creating an easy, 3.4-mile counterclockwise loop among the high-altitude peaks of the Coronado National Forest’s Santa Catalina Mountains. Follow Marshall Gulch trail signs to begin a quick ascent into the ponderosa-shaded forest. Crossing a small creek several times, the trail climbs eastward gradually and turns away from the creek before approaching a saddle 1.2 miles from the trailhead. Several trails merge here: Follow Aspen Trail #93 uphill and to the south for a 0.8-mile climb to Marshall Peak’s false summit. A 2003 fire incinerated the most distant section of this loop and the damage is obvious. New growth of alder, aspen, pine and shrubby species continues, but the fire-scar dominates the scenery as the trail approaches it’s high point, more than 8,150 feet above sea level. Descending west and north toward the trailhead through the upper reaches of the Sabino Canyon, the trail reflects a glittering layer of mica and quartz dust that gives the day a magical feel. Parking at the trailhead requires a Catalina Mountain Pass, available in per-day or annual increments. -Mapped by Chris Wencker

To Trailhead

Take the E. Catalina Highway approximately 26 miles to Summerhaven and continue straight through town to the Marshall Gulch Picnic Area and at the end of the road.

Leave a Reply