What’s the cheapest way to build a road? Why, use prison labor of course! Last weekend, my husband, Craig, and I hiked one of his favorite hikes – Sycamore Reservoir Trail – that goes through the ruins of a prison camp where prisoners lived while building a road up Mount Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona. The road provides easy access from Tucson up Mount Lemmon where locals and tourists can explore a plethora of interconnecting trails and see amazing views of the mountains and the city. Anyone who visits Tucson visits Mount Lemmon.

On the hike, we passed quite a few of these rock columns which is all that is left (save scrap metal) of the prison camp.


The trailhead isn’t too far up to mountain (just past Molino Basin), so it’s a relatively quick trip up. We packed a lunch, but depending on the time of day and how far you plan to hike, you could get by with just some fruit or trail mix. This trail has everything you could want – stunning mountain views, vegetation, and a waterfall! Well, a man-made waterfall over a dam, but still.



The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. I would say it’s a moderate hike but most people could do it with little trouble. We took our 8 year old dog, and she forced us to slow down a few times, but she made it just fine – and loved the stream at the bottom of the canyon. Some parts are pretty rocky so I would recommend hiking boots for the people and doggy boots for the four-legged friends.


Round trip, we took about 3 hours. This included relaxing and eating lunch at the bottom of the canyon. There were hardly any other people on the trail even though it was a beautiful Saturday. We did run into a group of older hikers (mid 60’s I think) who continued down the Arizona Trail past the dam. Choose your own adventure!