Mount Lemmon, Arizona 85619
Sycamore Reservoir Trail webpage
Catalina Mountains–Sycamore Reservoir map
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About Catalina Mountains–Sycamore Reservoir
Sycamore Reservoir was originally constructed to supply water to an old prison camp along the Catalina Highway. This small lake has been made even smaller by flash floods which have washed huge amounts of rock and sand into the lake. Still, the reservoir and surrounding area remain a pleasant destination for a day trip or an overnight. A sand beach and stands of alder, willow and sycamore grace various parts of its shoreline. Riparian vegetation extends into the two canyons that come together to form the dam site, providing habitat for birds and other watchable wildlife. The trail to the reservoir starts in an area occupied by the ruins of an old prison camp. Concrete foundations are all that remain of the buildings that once stood here, and a 4-wheel drive road now winds its way through the ruins to a trailhead at the Push Ridge Wilderness boundary. The road through the prison camp is closed seasonally, which adds about a mile and a quarter to the trip. If the gate is open, you will want to drive only part way to the trailhead, unless you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. At the Wilderness boundary, the trail parallels an abandoned road as it heads downhill toward the reservoir. To prevent erosion, visitors to the area should use the trail rather than the road or the unblazed spurs which branch off the main trail. At the point where the trail enters Sycamore Canyon, it shares a portion of its course with an old fire line bulldozed to stop a chaparral fire some time ago. Again, if you stay on the main trail, all of these unsightly scars will heal naturally.
From Sycamore Reservoir Trail webpage