Rice Peak is in the Coronado National Forest
north of Tucson. Rice Peak sits just north of Mt. Lemmon
near the Pima/Pinal County Line. Rice Peak is important because about 300 ft below the summit on the north side is the County Highpoint of Pinal County
There are different ways to get to the summit of Rice Peak. The trailhead we used is from the east through Peppersauce Campground
. To get to Peppersauce Campground from Tucson, drive north on Oracle Road (US 89). Continue for 27 miles to State Highway 77. Turn right (east) and drive 10 miles to the town of Oracle. Take the first Oracle exit and travel 4 miles through town to Forest Road 38. Follow FR 38 to Peppersauce Canyon. Due to the Bullock and Oracle Hill Fires of 2002, Peppersauce Campground is NOT accessible from the upper Control Road from Summerhaven.
The road turns to gravel not too far out of the town of Oracle. At Peppersauce Campground, set your odometer to zero and prepare for a rougher road. Go up the hill 2.5 miles where there is a little saddle. Turn right onto a rougher smaller road. Follow this road .9 mile to a wash out and park. As of November 2006 this road was pretty washed out and only Quad OHV and Motorbikes were going through. There are actually 3 washouts in this area with the second one about 100 yards across. We parked here.
You can probably take alternate roads into the area including one directly up Peppersauce Canyon and another from Campo Bonito. If you have details on those routes, please post them as routes. Another approach is from Summerhaven on Mt. Lemmon and hiking down Oracle Ridge.
No Red Tape here. Just don’t start a fire except in designated areas.
Camping Peppersauce Campground
is a popular campground but it is not recommended for RV’s. On the other side of Mt. Lemmon there are numerous campgrounds that are accessible from Tucson.
When to Climb
This peak is accessible all year around. Weather may limit access on some days. Be wary of lightning in the summer, monsoon rains/flash floods in the summer, and it does get snow in the winter. Spring and Fall may be the best time to climb because the weather isn’t at an extreme.
Check the weather in Tucson
before hiking in this area. Be aware of thunderstorms, forest fires, and flash floods.