This is a nice, short connector of the Arizona Trail linking up the Arizona trail east of the Catalina Highway to the magnificent section taking off from Shreve Saddle as it takes you into the East and West Fork country. This little connector route is great for kids in packs, and the like.
The Molino Basin Trail #11 takes off from the Molino Campground and basically parallels the Catalina Highway all the way to the Prison Camp at the Gordon Hirabiyashi campground. It climbs most of the way, but never severely, with a total gain of about 700 feet. There are no route finding issues and the trail is well-signed.
As the trail leaves the campground, the Highway is initially on the left. It then banks right and starts climbing easily into Molino Basin. As you scramble along the basin, the Catalina Highway reappears on your right and basically hangs out with you the rest of the way. The trail mostly parallels the drainage of the basin, crossing over it a couple of times. Occasionally it switchbacks up a little. Soon you can see where the Hirabiyashi campground breaks off from the Catalina Highway. This is where you are heading. At about 2.3 miles or so from Molino Campground you come to a signed intersection. To the right the trail descends down to the campsites at Hirabiyashi campground. To the left, you can continue on for about 0.5 miles to the end of the gravel road in the campground at the takeoff for the Sycamore Reservoir trail.
The views along this trail are mostly out over Molino Basin and are very nice and wide open. This is a a nice, easy connector segment of the Arizona Trail worth a walk if you have the time (or have a little one with you). It passes through some of the more heavily burned mid-altitude hilly grasslands of the Catalinas. The recovery is obvious most of the way.
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