close
ArizonaHikesHistorical

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail & the Gordon Hirabayashi Prison Camp

Monsoon season has ruined multiple weekend plans for camping on Mount Lemmon. So what are we to do with cabin fever and the temperature hitting an all new high? Head to Mount Lemmon of course! At least until the rain hits.

Donut, Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
It’s a trail tradition –a one-person tradition. Husband never participates. Every donut party has a pooper.

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
Today we chose to bag Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A. There are multiple ways to access it. You can park at San Pedro Vista and hike up to Incinerator Ridge or take Incinerator Ridge Road and drive the dirt trail to the small “parking lot” and hike down along the ridge.

Firepit, Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
Incinerator Ridge offers free camping spots if you prefer the more remote spots (meaning, you don’t mind using the bathroom in the woods, don’t like having camping neighbors, and are possibly okay with being chased by bears or cougars).

wildflowers while Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
The tiny shiny area on the left is Rose Canyon Lake, where we had planned to go camping. We camped there 5 years ago.

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
Proof that Arizona isn’t completely red or brown.

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
The trail leads around this ridge.

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
And it also runs along the Catalina Highway, which was built by prisoners of the Gordon Hirabayashi internment camp near the base of Mount Lemmon.

Incinerator Ridge Trail, Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
What goes down.. must unfortunately huff and puff its way back up. Incinerator Ridge trail has a very gradual ascent or descent but that donut did nothing for an energy boost!

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
See the ancient river winding its way through the San Pedro Valley? Me neither! But according to Wikipedia it is there and is the last major, free-flowing undammed river in the American Southwest. It’s also “of major ecological importance as it hosts two-thirds of the avian diversity in the United States, including 100 species of breeding birds and 300 species of migrating birds.”

Hiking Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail

Before we hiked Incinerator Ridge, we visited the Gordon Hirabayashi Prison Camp near the base of Mount Lemmon. Originally a prison camp that was established specifically to supply labor for the construction of the Catalina highway, it was converted into an internment camp called the Catalina Honor Camp during World War II. In 1999, the camp was converted to a recreation site honoring Gordon Hirabayashi, a Seattle-ite & Quaker whose parents had immigrated from Japan. Hirabayashi was one of three who openly defied internment (see Hirabayashi v. United States 1943) but served 90 days and 1 year in the prison.

Gordon Hirabayashi Prison Internment Camp ruins on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
The remains of the prison camp.

Gordon Hirabayashi Prison Internment Camp ruins on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
Map of its former construction.

Gordon Hirabayashi Prison Internment Camp ruins on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
Nothing but the base of very few of these structures stand today.

Gordon Hirabayashi Prison Internment Camp ruins on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail

Gordon Hirabayashi Prison Internment Camp ruins on Mount Lemmon, Arizona, AZ - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/hiking-incinerator-ridge-trail
The desert, time, and looting has taken over what was once a prison camp.

Gordon Hirabayashi Internment Camp Overview

  • Coordinates: 32.33967800 -110.71723800
  • Fees: FREE
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Usage: Light
  • Pets allowed: Yes

Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A to San Pedro Vista Overview

  • Coordinates: 32.41173163 -110.70523605
  • Fees: FREE
  • Difficulty: Moderately Easy
  • Usage: Light
  • Length: 3.26 Miles Out & Back
  • Things to note:
    1. Most hikers park at the San Pedro Vista then make the climb up Incinerator Ridge Trail #18A, as opposed to what we did (park at the end of Incinerator Ridge Road then hike down the trail). Can’t go wrong with either direction
  • Pets allowed: Yes
Tags : arizona hikesmount lemmonprison camptucsontucson hikes