Molino Basin to Italian Trap – AZ Trail
Level: Advanced (3C – 3D)
Special Note: South of Italian Trap, the Arizona Trail is closed to bikes for a short section. It opens again to bikes at Pistol Hill.
This section of the Arizona Trail runs from Italian Trap (on it’s southern end) in the Redington Pass area, to Molino Basin, in the lower foothills of the Catalina Mountains. This is an absolutely fantastic trail if you’re looking for a little bit of everything Tucson has to offer. Smooth, fast and rolling singletrack, some lung-taxing climbing, and short, fun technical areas (that can be walked if needed). Don’t forget about the spectacular scenery. Please note that south of Italian Trap, the AZTrail routes into Wilderness so no bikes allowed, so many folks just park at Redington and head North, skipping the short (but fun) out-and-back to Italian Trap.
The only REAL technical area is the climb and descent from Molino Basin down to the water tank, near the entrance of La Milagrosa trail. Once you cross Catalina Highway, pick up the RIGHT fork, cross the creek, and you’ll start the brutal climb up and over the pass. For those who are looking for a real technical challenge, start at the Northern trailhead at Molino Basin. From there, you can continue on to Italian Trap OR, as many riders do, break off on La Milagrosa trail, which starts just south of the water tank.
Everything south of the northern Molino Pass is very moderate, Intermediate-level singletrack. So if you’re not really wanting to ride the super-techie stuff, your best bet is to park near the South trailhead in Redington Pass and make it a fun out-and-back ride. From the Arizona Trail sign at Italian Trap the trail climbs steadily, turns to the west and then drops down to Redington Road. There, the trail heads northeast, then turns west and reaches Bellota Ranch Road. Just beyond the road crossing is the Lake Trailhead, which follows the Bellota Trail. It crosses Caliente Creek, goes through several gates and then climbs up to the pass above Molino Basin.
Directions to Molino Basin: Take Mt. Lemmon Highway to the Molino Basin campground, and the trailhead is right across Catalina Highway. A few yards in, take the RIGHT fork, across the creek. As with any trailhead along Catalina Highway, you will need a day pass in order to park, which can be purchased inexpensively at the Ranger Station below Molino Basin.
Directions to Italian Trap: In east Tucson, take Tanque Verde Road until it turns to dirt. From the moment it turns to dirt, it will be another 10-miles or so to the point where the AZ Trail crosses the road. Redington road is smooth, paved road that is passable in any passenger vehicle if you take it easy.
One popular option is to park vehicles at the Molino View parking lot just south of the Fee Station, and shuttle up to Green Mountain. From there, you can easily ride Green Mountain, Bug Springs, Prison Camp, and Molino/La Milagrosa. One of our great sponsors, Southwest Trekking, offers a shuttle service for those interested. You need to have at least six riders, and the cost is usually around $15/person. Contact John at SWTrekking and tell him you found this on the SDMB site.