In my quest for shorter trails to rehab my hamstring on I came across the Babad Do'ag trail off the Catalina Highway. This low-mid elevation hike is nice, with some quality views along the way and it's tough enough to break a sweat on a cool, windy day. Babad Do'ag is Tohono O'odham for "Frog Mountain" by the way.
Walk right/uphill out of the vista pullout and follow the road for a couple hundred feet. A small signpost across the road marks the trail beginning. The trail initially scrambles up and away from the winding Catalina Highway. As you climb to your right nice views of the Rincons and Agua Caliente Hill increase. After climbing for a short while, the trail kind of levels out across a broad plateau and starts to head west. There are great views of the Rincons now.
After the short west scramble the trail starts climbing north again. On your left comes a large, wide canyon that you generally parallel the rest of the way. The views are interesting here, as the mountains are wide open and covered in tall grass. This is a cool part of the Catalinas that I've seen here on other trails, but not really noticed anywhere else. The trail climbs through this section, and the peaks and ridges to the right and north become more interesting. Near the end, the trail winds west along a ridge and expansive views fall away in all directions. The trail terminates atop a hill along the ridge at a small sign. This is a nice spot to hang out for a while and take in the great scenery.
Sabino/Madera - $5 per day or $20 annual. Catalina State Park $6 per day. Sabino Canyon Tram is $8 extra.
To Babad Do'ag Trailhead Take the Catalina Highway in Tucson up to the Catalina Mountains. Just past milepost 2 is the Babad Do'ag Vista pullout on your right. Park here and walk back to the highway for the hike.
From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 128 mi - about 2 hours 19 mins From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 18.7 mi - about 42 mins From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 272 mi - about 4 hours 23 mins
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.