Backway to Mount Lemmon

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Location Tucson, AZ
Rating Easy,
Length 27.8mi
Time 3hrs

Vehicle Types


Lesser-used backroad that climbs to top of ski area.

Lesser-used backroad to the top of Mount Lemmon. Much of the road is uneventful until the last 6 miles, when the road twists and climbs up the steep mountain. Frankly, the views coming down paved Catalina Road are much more spectacular. Unlicensed vehicles are allowed on Forest Road 38, but there’s much more to see and do on Rice Peak, Trail #70. The backway is closed December 15 to March 1. Camp at Peppersauce F.S. Campground.


Trail Ratings Defined

Most of the road is smooth gravel. The upper part gets a little rougher, but any 4-wheel-drive SUV can do it. Very dusty when dry.






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Current Conditions

(520) 749-8700Coronado N.F., Santa Catalina Ranger District

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Submitted by Richard
This is a very scenic road. Starting in Tucson, it is quite a worthwhile trip even if you don’t get on the trail. Once on the trail, it is really pretty tame. We saw a van do it, but there are a few spots he was probably thinking it was a bad idea. There is a fun run up a steep hill a bit before the Rice Peak cutoff. It is not marked as anyone’s private property and is clearly used. It is shaped like a needle where you go up the right side and loop down the left. Quite a fun side trail maybe 100 yards long. We did it with 37’s and 4″ lift, using rear lockers.


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