Tag Archives: molino canyon

West Fork of Molino – Around Airmen Peak – Down Molino

**Edit 5/2/2008 – When I originally wrote this post I had never heard of a name for the drainage we started in, but In the comments below I was directed towards the now out-of-print Cowgill and Glendening guide book for the Santa Catalina Mountains and their Hollin Basin description! (Thanks!) In their description it seems pretty clear that the drainage we were hiking is called the West Fork of Molino canyon.

Dave B. recently arrived back in Tucson and was free for a day of hiking, so we headed into the Santa Catalina Mountains for a little fun… A few years ago ADT and I did a night hike into the West Fork of Molino Canyon, the first drainage up the road from the Molino Basin Campground (we hiked to the first waterfall) – I remembered that hike being fun, so Dave and I decided that we would hike up that drainage, around Airmen Peak and down Molino canyon back to the parking lot.

The West Fork of Molino had running water along almost all of our hike – a nice surprise that made the falls and formations even more interesting. The hiking included a fair amount of scrambling and bushwhacking – it was more strenuous than hiking up the East Fork of Molino Canyon. Some of this area looks like it escaped the fires several summers ago and was enjoyably green. Once we were north of Airmen Peak we started looking for the best way to head east and into the East Fork – much to our surprise there was reasonably easy walking in and along small drainages for almost the entire hike down into Molino Canyon. Once we reached Molino Canyon we enjoyed the hike down the canyon (we were surprised at how dry the canyon was, none of the water seen here) and back to the Molino Basin Campground. Map.

Dave B. in an unnamed drainage

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A Short Trip Down Molino Canyon

If you park at the Molino Canyon Vista you have quick access to Molino Canyon – the first part of the canyon can be slightly difficult to navigate, but there are several paths around each obstacle. Molino canyon stays quite close to the Highway, but it is very fun hiking – right now the canyon has flowing water, shade and a nice water fall with a great spot for a nap… Map.

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Molino Canyon

Molino Canyon from Molino Basin Campground

Today ADT and I hiked up part of Molino Canyon from the Molino Basin Campground. The canyon was pleasantly wet and the weather was great. The canyon has changed a little from the past few (post-fire) years – more sand lower in the canyon and the flat sand walkway (in the upper section of the canyon) is starting to wash out. It was amazing to see the amount of sand moving – even in the shallow water. Map.

From the parking area cross the road, after a very short distance the trail will split. Take the trail to the left – it will stay to the left of the wash and take you to the top of the first waterfall (the signed Arizona Trail heads right across the canyon). You may have more fun by walking the canyon bottom to the bottom of the falls (from the bottom of the falls the trail can be found up and left, the trail is the easiest way around the falls). After the falls continue up the canyon, hiking and scrambling (the scrambling is fairly easy but beware the wet/slippery rocks) – enjoy!


Molino Canyon