Coronado National Forest
COST: $5 per car
The dozens of trails around and on 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon, about an hour’s drive up the winding Sky Island Scenic Byway  from central Tucson  and into another world entirely, are beloved among all those Tucsonans sweating away in the hot valley down there, dreaming of a weekend day spent scrambling around the evergreen forests and cool streams up on the mountain.
Since there are so many trails to choose from (many of them lead into and branch off one another), you might consider the following eight-mile loop composed of portions of several trails, which is designed to take you through some of the best areas the mountain has to offer.
At Summerhaven, turn onto the Sabino Canyon Parkway and follow it down to Marshall Gulch; leave your car at the small streamside parking lot. Start on Trail #3 (Marshall Gulch Trail) behind the bathrooms and follow it up through the shady forest for 1.2 miles to Marshall Saddle, at 7,920 feet. At Marshall Saddle branch off on Trail #44, which will take you down about 700 feet into the beautiful Wilderness of Rocks for 1.7 miles.
At the junction take Trail #12 (the Lemmon Rock Lookout Trail) as it rises and rises for about two miles to near the very peak of Mount Lemmon at 9,157 feet, where you’ll be among metal towers essential to life down below. Along the way you can stop off at the Mount Lemmon Lookout, which offers one of the best views in the region.
You’ll see the ski lift near the top, but don’t get on. Instead, hike along Radio Ridge using the Mount Lemmon Trail (Trail #5) for a mile or so to its junction with Trail #93 (Aspen Trail), then follow that downhill for 1.3 miles to find yourself back at Marshall Saddle—then it’s 1.2 miles back to the car.
The climbs on this loop can be a bit brutal, but you’re definitely rewarded for the effort.
For information on other trails and more suggestions on which ones to try, stop by the Palisades Visitor Center on your way up the hill. There you can talk to rangers and pick up a map of the trail system.