Prison Camp – Mt. Lemmon (aka Gordon Hirabayashi)
Level: Intermediate (3B – 3C)
Special Note: Prison Camp is a multi-use trail so be aware, and it gets a bit of hiking traffic from the folks that camp in Molino Basin. There are restrooms available in Molino Basin, but no water.
Depending which way you’re coming from, Prison Camp trail begins at the southwest end of the Gordon Hirabayashi campground, and descends to the Molino Basin campground. It is actually the last section of the Arizona Trail until you get higher up the mountain, and officially part of the “Redington” section of the AZ Trail. If you’re descending from Bug Springs, it’s a short, mostly downhill trail with some technical surprises thrown in. There is a bit of short climbs here and there, but for the most part it is fast, fun downhill. This trail can be handled by intermediate riders, but be aware there are some areas that can catch you unaware if you’re not careful. For those not so gravity-oriented, it is equally fun to ride UP the trail, too!
Be aware that this trail is frequented by hikers and equestrians. Unlike the higher Mt. Lemmon rides, there isn’t much shade on this trail so it can get intense in the summer, so take plenty of water. Exiting through the campground will put you right back out on Catalina Highway. Unless you leave a vehicle at the trail exit, it’s a 2-mile ride back up Catalina Highway to Gordon Hirabayashi Campground.
Directions: Take Mt. Lemmon Highway to the Gordon Hirabayashi campground, and the trailhead is the southermost point, at the turnaround.
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, and Prison Camp, which ends just a mile or so uphill from your parked cars. 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.