Feeling a bit homesick for Washington state, we decided to spend a bit of time amongst the trees on the Butterfly Trail near the top of Mount Lemmon. Mount Lemmon is always about 20° cooler than the rest of Tucson, making this Sky Island a welcome relief from the summer heat.
The Butterfly Trail is a 10.8 mile out and back hike. It can be a REALLY dusty trail during the summer but it’s surrounded by grass, ferns, and green TREES.
Remnants of desert life can still be seen here and there.
We turned around at Novio Springs. We didn’t know it at the time, but if we had gone a little further we would have encountered the remnants of a plane crash.
In 1957, two F-86’s collided into one another. They were part of an 11 plane formation headed back to the airbase here from Kirtland, NM. The two planes smacked into each other, both pilots ejected from each plane. One plane ended up here on the Butterfly trail, the other actually stabilized after the pilot bailed and ended up flying unmanned into New Mexico before it crashed into a rancher’s property. The pilots landed in a very remote area and weren’t rescued until the following day (no one was killed).
Butterfly Trail on Mount Lemmon Overview
- Coordinates: 32.42736, -110.7408
- Fees: FREE
- Difficulty: Moderately Easy
- Usage: Light
- Length: 10.8 Miles Out & Back
- Elevation: 1,095 Feet
- Pets allowed: Yes