Overall Route Rating
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5 out of 5 Rider Rating 5
2 Reviews

Mt Lemmon Loop

Motorcycle Route Author

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By desert rat (9 McR Points) on Mar 14, 2012

Rider Reviews

PorscheGuy
39 McR Points
October 10, 2016
This is one of the most spectacular drives in AZ…
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Rystnn
2 McR Points
July 24, 2017
Great views and the road is very well maintained…
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Written Directions

This trip starts at the southern outskirts of Phoenix city limits and takes you on the desert backroads and through Tucson to the base of Mt. Lemmon where the riding really gets good. (Note, written directions with specific road name/numbers are included in the "Scenery Description" section.

Scenery

This trip starts at the southern outskirts of Phoenix city limits on Hwy 87 and runs south parallel with Interstate 10 before jogging eastward toward Florence, AZ. From Florence, take Hwy 79 due south through virgin unspoiled Sonoran desert. This merges into Hwy 77 and you continue south skirting the western slopes of the Santa Catalina Mt. range of north Tucson. As you enter Tucson, you head east again through the heart of Tucson and reach the base of Mt. Lemmon on the eastern end of town. The sign at the base indicates 30 miles to the top of Mt. lemmon consisting of huge, sweeping curves and breathtaking scenic vistas as you climb from Tucsons 2400ft. above sea level elevation to over 9000ft at the summit. Since it was still early March, we were thankful we had some layers of warm clothing under our leather. The views as you ascended were impressive and it took everything to keep your eyes on the road as you took in the expanding valley below you. We stopped several times, as the view across the San Pedro River Valley to the east was stunning. As you neared the top, the quaint little mountain town of Summerhaven greets you. With a ski slope and lift, this little town does well during the winter months, but inclement weather can close portions of the road going up, if only temporarily. My riding partner and I reached the top and had lunch at a neat little cabin-like restaurant and shared our thoughts and comments on this terrific ride. On our way back to Phoenix we stopped at a roadside memorial on Hwy 79 just south of Florence commemorating cowboy Tom Mix who was killed in a car accident on this very spot. All in all, a really nice little run. With summer temperatures reaching 112 degrees and warmer, the trip down through the desolate desert isnt recommended. Will definitely be coming back this fall. "daoist" added the following in Sep of 2014: "This route circles the Catalina mountains on the west side and then goes straight to the top from the north. The route starts out in Tucson and immediately gets you out of the urban jungle by heading north on AZ 77 to Oracle. Then the adventure really begins taking the dirt road up to Summerhaven!"

Drive Enjoyment

Good quality single lane blacktop for most of Hwy 79 down to Tucson, and very good engineered asphalt curves and banks on Mt. Lemmon Hwy leading to the top. "daoist" added the following in Sep of 2014: "The most challenging part of the road is the dirt ascent up the north face of Mt. Lemmon. The road is in good condition for the most part with some places washed out and lots of switchbacks."

Tourism Opportunities

Long stretches of desolation inbetween the smaller towns on Hwy 79 going south out of Phoenix. Good selection of restaurants and grills in Tucson. Limited selection of eateries (1) on mountain top. Gas up in Tucson. "daoist" added the following in Sep of 2014: "Be sure and gas up in Oracle and bring water. A couple of good places to eat up in Summerhaven, but no fuel on the mountain at all!"

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PorscheGuy
October 10, 2016
39 McR Points
Motorcycle Type : Sport
This is one of the most spectacular drives in AZ- you go from desert cactus to rock formations to Pine forest in one drive! Best time is before sunset heading up because it really lights up the scenery. And cool off about 20 degrees in the process. Go all the way till you hit Summerhaven and grab lunch at cafe, or get a plate sized cookie at the Cookie Cabin or great food at Sawmill Run restaurant. Just watch out for about 100 cyclists that ride this to the top on the weekends.
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Rystnn
July 24, 2017
2 McR Points
Motorcycle Type : Cruiser
Great views and the road is very well maintained. It is a tourist area and the only route to Tucson's Ski area so there are a lot of cars going slow. The ride starts at approximately 2000 feet above sea-level and ascends to 8000 feet, so so have a jacket for the top. There are many pull-offs and the road can really test inexperienced riders because of the turns and steeps sides.
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