Mountain Biking Arizona: Tucson's Molino Basin to Italian Trap Mountain Bike Trails

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Mt Lemmon Trail – Molino Basin to Italian Trap – Tucson, Arizona Photos

What The Bike Bandit Says About Molino Basin to Italian Trap Mountain Bike Trails

“This is a very popular Tucson mountain bike ride that is so fun and challenging. Technical in some downhills, but this is a beginner friendly course where you can really build some speed. Many of us in Tucson know this as the Prison Camp ride.”

Jason, The Bike Bandit Jason, The Bike Bandit

TUCSON, Arizona – Mountain Biking – This part of the Arizona Trail spans from Italian Trap (on the southern end) in the Redington Pass area, to Molino Basin, around the lower foothills of the Catalina Mountains. The trail is perfect for those who like to try a little of bit everything that Tuscon has to offer. It offers smooth, fast and rolling singletrack, with a number of lung-taxing climbing, and short, fun technical areas (where you can walk if necessary). Plus there is excellent scenery. Do know that the south of Italian Trap, the AZTrail routes into Wilderness therefore no one is allowed to bike. People just choose to park at Redington and head North, skipping the short (but fun) out-and-back to Italian Trap.

Riders will find the technical part during the climb and descent from Molino Basin down to the water tank, near the entrance of La Milagrosa trail. When you reach Catalina Highway, pick up the RIGHT fork, go beyond the creek, and you will begin a brutal climb up and over the pass. Riders who prefer real technical challenge,you can begin at the Northern trailhead at Molino Basin. Starting there, you can proceed to Italian Trap OR, like what others do, break off on La Milagrosa trail, which begins a little south of the water tank.

What most of you find at the northern Molino Pass are very moderate, Intermediate-level singletrack.  If you are not up for the extremely technical then it is best to park near the South trailhead in Redington Pass. You can turn it into a fun out-and-back ride. Starting at the Arizona Trail sign at Italian Trap, the trail goes up continuously before turning to the west then dropping to Redington Road. Starting there you will see the trail go northeast before turning west and reaching Bellota Ranch Road. After the road crossing, you will find the Lake Trailhead, which follows the Bellota Trail. This goes beyond the Caliente Creek before passing through several gates and then climbing up to the pass above Molino Basin.

Directions to Mt Lemmon Trail – Molino Basin to Italian Trap
Moutain Bike Trails – Tucson, Arizona

Directions to Molino Basin: Drive along Mt. Lemmon Highway to the Molino Basin campground, and you will find the trailhead just across the Catalina Highway. Once you go a few yards, turn to the RIGHT fork, across the creek. Like othe trailheads near Catalina Highway, a day pass is required before you can park. This is affordable and available at the Ranger Station below Molino Basin.

Directions to Italian Trap: When you’re in east Tucson, take Tanque Verde Road and continue until it turns to dirt. When you see it turns to dirt, there should be 10-miles or so to the point where the AZ Trail crosses the road. Redington road is smooth, paved road that is easy to pass so long as you be careful.

One of the best ways to park your vehicle is at the Molino View parking lot just south of the Fee Station, and shuttle up to Green Mountain. From there, you can ride conveniently to Green Mountain, Bug Springs, and Prison Camp, which ends just a mile or so uphill from your parked cars. There is also a shuttle service from Southwest Trekking fot those interested. The service requires at least six riders at $15/person.

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