Dirty Lemmon Loop

A difficult gravel road ride looping Mount Lemmon.

Mountain Biking Easy

Distance
183 km
Ascent
3.4 km
Descent
3.4 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
799 m
High Point
2.8 km
Gradient
Dirty Lemmon Loop Map

Cycling up the Mount Lemmon Highway is an epic challenge "that will rival some of the best climbs across the country," according to ArizonaBikeRides.com. Hundreds of road cyclists pedal this highway every week!

Description

But what if you want a bigger—and decidedly dirtier—challenge?

Enter the Dirty Lemmon Loop

This route creates a massive loop around the east side of the mountain with a short spur to the top of Mount Lemmon. It ascends to the top via dirt roads and descends the mountain on the aforementioned paved highway. With 114 miles of pedaling and over 11,000 vertical feet of elevation gain, this is a brutal day out in the mountains!

This ride is designed as a gravel road ride, although some lengthy sections take place on pavement. The ideal bicycle for this ride is a gravel or all-road bike, but of course, riders could complete it on a variety of other rigs.

The loop begins by climbing out of Tucson on the steeply switchbacked Redington Pass Road. The road quickly transitions from pavement to gravel as it climbs high into the Rincon Mountains above the city. The scenery surrounding you is guaranteed to keep you entertained, with beautiful mountains, the stunning saguaro-filled Sonoran Desert, and eventually, views of the city spread out below you.

Redington Pass loops around the east side of Mount Lemmon, working its way north through a rolling, remote high desert landscape.

Eventually, the route leaves Redington Pass behind with the intention of finally gaining the summit of Mount Lemmon. The bulk of the climb up the mountain follows the South Mount Lemmon Road, gaining a grueling amount of elevation on its way to Summerhaven. Once in Summerhaven, it's just a quick jaunt to the very summit, topping out at a whopping 9,157 feet above sea level!

From there, it's almost all downhill! Your reward for hours upon hours of grueling pedaling is an adrenaline-inducing high-speed rip down the tight switchbacks of the Mount Lemmon Highway, all the back down to Tucson far, far below.

Sources: https://dirtyfreehub.com/adventure/arizona/mt-lemmon-epic/ https://www.arizonabikerides.com/rides/220/mt-lemmon-bike-ride-tucson-arizona/

Difficulty

Easy

Mostly smooth and non-technical singletrack with unavoidable obstacles 2in/5cm tall or less. Avoidable obstacles may be present. Ideal for beginner riders.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Road sections

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area