Wilderness of Rocks


The Wilderness of Rocks Trail #44 is located within the Pusch Ridge Wilderness of the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson and south of Summerhaven. The trail can only be reached by taking one a hand-full of other trails in the region.

Getting There:

The only way to get to this region of the Catalinas is to take Catalina Highway through the mountains and pass Summerhaven. The most convenient way to start the trail is from the Marshall Gulch Trail #3 located off of the Marshall Gulch Picknick Area. To get to the trailhead from the center of Tucson do the following:

  • take Speedway Blvd east
  • turn right at Willmot and continue curving north then east
  • Willmot becomes Tanque Verde within a mile and a half
  • continue on Tanque Verde for about 3 miles
  • take the left onto Catalina Highway and continue on for about 30 and change miles
  • take a left onto North Sabino Canyon Park Road and continue on to the picnick area.

trail map
TopoZone.com topo map


Taking the Marshall Gulch trail to end of the Wilderness of Rocks trail is approximately 10.4 miles in length. Much of the way crisscrosses stream beds and requires some minor rock hopping. The first 1.2 miles to the intersection of the trails is upward sloped and gains 517 feet. After reaching the intersection and taking the Wilderness of Rocks trail, there is another 4 miles of downward hiking (sorry, no elevation information from my GPS yet due to only going 1.5 of the 4 miles down). The trail is relatively well marked with stacks of stones along the way to make sure you are going the right way. It’s not an entirely difficult trail, but the high altitudes will make it a touch more “interesting” if you are not used to being active more than a mile above sea level. Once on the Wilderness of Rocks trail, expect to see many great views into the valleys and canyons and lots of really large rocks (hence the name of the trail).

My Take:

This is a great hike that my friends Aaron and Jenny introduced me to. It’s a decent day-hike, but make sure to plan for at least 8 to 9 hours for the entire trip (including driving). I’d recommend this hike to anyone who’s hiked before, but would probably only recommend the Marshall Gulch portion to people who are new to hiking since they probably wouldn’t be used to the long way up on the return trip. This is definitely one that I’m planning on doing again.



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