Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club
Santa Catalina Mountains Day Hike
when Trip Report : September 18, 2022
where Tucson
the hike     This is exploratory hike although that I had hiked majority of the trail. The Butterfly Trail near the cool summit of Mount Lemmon is an enjoyable walk through a diverse biological area with beautiful views. Highlights include the radio towers on the summit of Mount Bigelow, an airplane crash site, raspberry tasting and many varieties of vegetation along the way. We may even see some butterflies!
    We will do this hike as a loop. Starting at the Butterfly Trailhead we descend through forest, however, much of the trail will be sunny. Some parts of the trail are overgrown, and we may see running water on the side of the trail. This trail will take us through scenic canyons descending to a low point of 6600' near Novio Spring. A little further along is Novio Falls which may have some water flowing.
    Past the falls a short distance off-trail is the wreckage of an F-86 fighter plane that crashed here in 1957. After this the trail will begin an 1800' foot climb through more lush vegetation, with brief flat areas to catch our breath. There are many ripe raspberries along the trail which are eatable. We climb until we reach the Mt. Bigelow radio towers (8500'). We will descend and go through the dispersed camping area. We continue on Sunset Trail for two miles, passing through an underpass below the highway. We will eventually arrive at the Butterfly Trailhead (7700').
    Note that rainfall can be likely, so come prepared with rain gear.
•  Sturdy hiking boots
•  At least 3-4 liters of water
•  Rain poncho
•  Hat, sunblock, sunglasses
•  Snacks
•  Lunch or snacks
•  Camera
distance 9.3 miles
time 6-7 hours
EC +-2300' elevation change
type Loop
starting at
Butterfly Trailhead 32.42718200° N,  110.74081400° W
on trail 100%— Butterfly Trail #16, Bigelow Trail #520, & Sunset Trail
rating "B"     Rate yourself as a hiker.
dogs allowed no
cost The trailhead requires a $5 per car fee or a National Park pass. Sharing gas expenses with the driver. The club also allows voluntary contributions of $5/non-member.
weather Summerhaven
meet 6:00 AM in the parking lot south of Einstein Bros. Bagels on the SE corner of 48th Street & Ray Road, west of I-10. For those leaving their cars behind, please park up against the west curb of the parking lot and not in the Einstein’s common parking area.
•  From the carpool location, take I-10 south toward Tucson.
Take exit 256 for Grant Road.
Turn left and follow Grant Road east for 8.5 miles to the junction with Tanque Verde Road
Turn left on Tanque Verde Road and follow it for 3.3 miles to the junction with Catalina Highway. We will stop at the MacDonald’s here to regroup.
Take Catalina Highway (Mount Lemmon Highway) for 25 miles to Butterfly Trailhead.
Total driving time from the carpool location to the trailhead is about 2 hours 30 minutes. All roads are paved and suitable for any vehicle.

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updated September 26, 2022 © Copyright 2022, Arizona Trailblazers.  All rights reserved.