The Bigelow Trail provides an easy hike that connects the Catalina Highway to the towered summit of Mount Bigelow. Mount Bigelow, at 8550 feet, is the second highest named summit in the Santa Catalina Mountains. On this trail you will find wonderful views and an easy peak bag. The Bigelow Trail can also be done in combination with the Butterfly Trail, which it connects with.
The hike begins at a trailhead parking area directly across the highway from the Organization Ridge Road turnoff. Just west of the trailhead's restroom building, a large trail sign and map mark the beginning of the Bigelow Trail. The Bigelow Trail begins by climbing northward into ponderosa pine forest, but soon tracks northwest along a mountainside above the Catalina Highway.
At 0.2 miles (32.41178 N, 110.71472 W), the Bigelow Trail makes a sharp turn uphill to the right, leaving the route of an obvious trail that continues straight ahead. From this unsigned junction, the Bigelow Trail turns north to climb a shallow ravine, then continues to ramble upward across a gentle slope scarred by the 2002 Bullock Fire.
The Bigelow Trail reaches a saddle and a four way trail junction with a little sign at 0.65 miles, where the Kellogg Trail departs to the right, and the Butterfly Trail continues straight ahead. Turn left to continue on the Bigelow Trail.
From the saddle, the Bigelow Trail heads west along the ridgeline, but soon opts for the rocky southern slope of Mount Bigelow, where it leaves the fire damage behind.
The Bigelow Trail comes to an end upon arriving at a service road at 0.9 miles, amid the numerous communication towers of Mount Bigelow's summit. To reach the true summit, turn right onto the service road, and continue for 0.1 miles to the fire lookout tower. A few feet to the east of the fire tower you will find the USGS bench mark set into bedrock, minus the elevation (8550 feet). From the summit, there are spectacular views in almost every direction, both near and far. Many of southern Arizona's sky islands are visible.
For a longer return hike, one can descend the service road, or turn onto the Kellogg or Butterfly Trails. Otherwise, return the way you came.
Sabino/Madera - $5 per day or $20 annual. Catalina State Park $6 per day. Sabino Canyon Tram is $8 extra.
To hike From Tanque Verde Road in Tucson, follow the Catalina Highway to the trailhead parking area on the right, at milepost 19.45. The trailhead is directly across the highway from the signed Organization Ridge Road turnoff, and is 0.1 miles before the Palisades Visitor Center. (see hike description)
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Warning: heat kills! Avoid 8am to 5pm over 90 degrees. Prehydrate & stay hydrated. Hikebot recommends using an umbrella to block the sun. Avoid Heat Illness - do NOT hike when temps exceed 100 degrees, period.