Explore the most popular views trails in Butterfly Peak Natural Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Hiked this trail recently for my birthday. The weather is always fantastic on Mt. Lemmon this time a year and it was awesome to escape the heat. While this trail might be awesome for some, I wasn’t a huge fan. I don’t like trails that descend on the way out and ascend on the way back. Really wears me out! I may choose to do this trail from the trailhead on the other side so I can go UP first before I go down!

We hiked the Marshal Gulch/Aspen Trail on a week day in mid-May 2018 and it was a gorgeous escape from life in Tucson. We ran into only a handful of hikers once we left the parking lot. (There are signs re daily fees of $5.00 for parking or no charge with the Senior Park Pass. We did see tickets on a few windshields. There is a parking area before the trailhead and there were no signs re fees for that.) The temps were in the 70s and there was a cool breeze the whole hike. After the Aspen Fire of 2003, plenty pines and Aspens are making a comeback.

The trails are well maintained but there were numerous downed trees to climb over. The trails are largely protected by a canape of tall trees which helps with the sun. Take plenty of water and there is no cell service which I personally love but plan accordingly. Have a ball.

Good Trail up out of the heat of desert heat.

Definitely one of the best hikes on
Mt. Lemmon! The first part of the trail is a piece of cake, and walking through the pines was beautiful. Very shady and mostly flat. The turnoff to Sabino Creek is marked by a small Cairn, and a painted rock. From here the trail is still pretty easy, until you reach a primitive campsite and begin descending towards the springs. From here, the trail takes you down to a small stream bed which was dry when I was there. The trail is very spotty and sometimes non-existent past this point, but following the stream bed will get you to the springs. Look for Cairns along the way to guide you along. The trail definitely isn't maintained anymore, wear pants to keep from getting scratched up by thorns. Once you reach the creek, you can either continue upstream and enjoy the water, or go downstream about 1000 feet to see some really beautiful rock formations. There is even small cave downstream with a waterfall inside of it. It was really amazing and was a great spot to sit and cool down.

great trail! my GPS tells me this hike is more like 5 miles.

Nice short hike. Agree with others, the signs could be better. We may have done this a little too early in the year (March 11). Snow on the trail, which wasn't a problem, but our 6 year old was pretty cold by the time we reached the top.

Our first >2mi hike with our 6 year old, who handled it pretty well. This was a really enjoyable walk through the woods, with some good views once you start approaching Marshall Peak.

We came pretty close to forgetting that we live in a desert while doing this hike. We will come back and do this one again.

1 month ago

The trail is in decent shape for the first 3 or so miles, but then approaching Samaniego peak to Walnut Spring (I only went as far as Walnut) the trail is quite covered in pine needles and is challenging to see at times, with a lot of spiny bushes. Wear long pants!!!! You frequently push through spiny bushes at waist height. Walnut Spring is not right on the trail but there is an old grey metal sign on a tree that has WALN on it still and the spring is just downhill of the sign. It was flowing on April 1st after a dry winter. I could not find Shovel Spring that is supposedly on the Canada Del Oro trail start. Otherwise, beautiful views here and there, lovely pine forest patches, and good switch backs!

No longer muddy or wet. Best views are on the Aspen trail side of the loop.

A good loop trail. Boots required and a pole (or two) is handy. We followed the advice of returning hikers and began at the Marshall Gulch trailhead to the right of the bathrooms (marker reads "Marshall Gulch #3"). After a gradual shady ascent on a mica laden trail, you reach the trail intersection. Turn left onto the Aspen Trail. Big views of the basin and range emerge ahead, along with some steep down hill sections before returning to the picnic area parking lot. Parking is limited.

A little snow but mostly dry trails. I was hoping for more views but it was a great hike.

Great little loop. Not too long and not too short for a morning hike with the dogs. There was just a little bit of snow, a lot has melted which made the trail pretty muddy and slippery in some areas but overall the trail was great and easy to follow.

Really nice to get out of the desert and into the forest. The hike is definitely moderate and not difficult. I took my dog and she loved running in the spring. She was a little freaked out walking on ice in parts where the stream froze over. Amazing views over the city in a couple of different places. The trail was well marked and easy to navigate. The smell of the forest was refreshing.

4 months ago

I found that the first mile of this hike is difficult because it's all up hill. After the first mile there is still plenty of hills, but there is less incline. very beautiful hike but was more difficult than anticipated.

6 months ago

Nice but not a lot of great views. There was a great campsite less than a mile into the trail (north trailhead). A side-trail led up to Butterfly Peak. Otherwise, not too exciting. A lot of shade as it's a northern exposure. I only went 2 miles in then turned around.

This one is no joke. The first couple of miles is cake before the turnoff. The second portion of the trail is no longer maintained and it shows. It's a dangerous hike down to the spring. Very steep in parts, lots of fallen trees across the trail and it eventually disappears into boulders. There are plenty of markers along the way that people have left. The climb out, and it is certainly a climb in parts, is tough as well. Expect to get scratched up and down. If you're adventurous enough, it's worth it. The spring at the bottom is beautiful and you're almost certain to be the only one down there.

We love this hike. Beautiful fall colors right now. Feels like you are far away from the desert. Pretty easy. Great to being your dog and family along.

Some decent Fall colors and leaves with some water still in the creek. Pretty, and great Fall type weather compared to the desert floor in Tucson.

Well trafficked, but not crazy. Great way to get above some of the heat, but don't forget the sunblock. The pines don't offer nearly as much shade as we were expecting. Perfect difficulty for carrying a wee one!

Beautiful trail for a day away from the Tucson heat. Lots of butterflies and squirrels.

Absolutely beautiful hike. The plane crash was awesome and found a waterfall, not sure if this is normal or if it was because of the rain in the last two days but didn't see any mention of it in the description. Just remember when you are going down that you have to come back up - coming out was a killer.

Great trail! Good workout but not too hard. Perfect for a quick weekend trip. Beautiful views, lots of shade, pretty flowers and TONS of butterflies. Nice stream that runs through for water for the dogs. Parking lot was packed but the trail was quiet.

We cleared the logs and improved the tread on the Marshall gulch section.

Lots of fun, not too hard, my 10 yr old enjoyed it with me today!

Love doing this trail, today was even better as it was overcast most of the time,, lots of water running and chilly temps!!

Beautiful, quick pace going down but back up is serious cardio.

What a great hike to escape the heat of the desert! My dog Dusty and I had a great time! There's plenty of tree cover and Dusty loved the cool mountain streams.

Beautiful hike in the pines! The trail is mostly shaded, about 75%. There was some running water in the base of the trail once I hiked in a bit. After 1.8 miles in I made the turn off the main trail but the side trail (#22A) was so overgrown it was hard to follow. I tried to bushwhack my way down to the spring but ended up with a nasty scrap from a tree branch I didn't see under some overgrowth. I turned around not too long after I got off the main trail. The Park Ranger at the Palisades Visitor Center told me that the side trail to the spring is no longer maintained. It has too many fallen trees and overgrowth and they've decided to let it go. Wish I would have made it down to Box Spring but it was still a beautiful hike!

Did the Marshall Gulch portion of the trail. The wife and really enjoyed the trail. Took our six year old Yorkshire Terrier and she had no problem navigating the terrain. Gradual elevation gain was a great workout. Plenty of tree cover along the hike to keep you out of the direct sun. A few spots where you had watch your footing while climbing over some small rock formations in the trail. Only came across a few other hikers, but probably because it was late evening near sunset. Would give it 5 stars if there views at the top! Will try it again and do full circle and include aspen trail, maybe some views from there.

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