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Baby Jesus Trail from Catalina State Park, AZ

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Guide 9 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson NW
3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 14.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,713 feet
Elevation Gain 1,172 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,389 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 26.55
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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1  2016-09-01 Mountain_Rat
2  2016-05-02 Mountain_Rat
4  2015-12-24 JuanJaimeiii
6  2015-11-10 Mountain_Rat
21  2014-02-24
50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
14  2011-11-18
50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
Author Mountain_Rat
author avatar Guides 10
Routes 91
Photos 550
Trips 192 map ( 1,893 miles )
Age 56 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Feb, Nov, Jan
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:09am - 6:27pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby

This is an out and back beginning at the Catalina State Park trailhead parking lot. As you approach the main trailhead, you’ll see a trail to the left, running just inside a split rail fence. This is your trail, so get going :D

The trail switches back and forth, but primarily runs north-northeast for the first segment. At 0.7 miles in, you’ll come to a junction in a wash bottom. Be sure to hang left here. I mention this as I have missed my turn here more than once. Now it’s 2 more miles of mild and scenic trail to finish out this segment where you merge onto the Sutherland jeep trail. From here, you head due east for 0.9 miles. This segment is fortunately short as it isn’t very pleasant. This “jeep” trail isn’t even well liked by many jeeps, but this stretch is quickly behind you.

Now, I don’t want to over elevate your expectations, so don’t be thinking ‘Grand Canyon’, but instead a pleasant day on a lightly used trail that offers new views and perspectives of the Catalina’s western range. You are about 3.8 miles into it when you arrive at the Baby Jesus Trail splitting from the jeep trail and heading north-northwest. In 0.8 miles you’ll arrive at a concrete spring box filled by the nearby Wooden Trough Spring. If you happen to be here at the right time of the year it may even have a few gold fish in it. As you leave the spring you’ll head along a crooked northerly path that ungulates pleasantly over the soft foothills below Samaniego Peak, reaching its peak elevation of 3,885’ at just about 1.5 miles from the jeep trail. From here the trail arcs from north to northwest as you drop away from the ridgeline working ultimately toward the canyon floor. The end of the trail will all of a sudden be right there in front of you as it opens up into a system of jeep and ATV trails. This junction is a very nice spot with a lot of shade to rest in before your return.

Enjoy the views and the solitude.

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2015-12-06 Mountain_Rat
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Baby Jesus Trail from Catalina State Park
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    Probably should have stayed in bed :/

    I arrived at the Catalina State Park entry at 7 sharp. "Huh, no host" I thought to myself. This was not good in that I had only a $20 & $5 bill with me. Either I would go fighting rush hour traffic, or root around in the seat for change, then in a worst case, wait 5 or 10 minutes for the shack to open up. By 20 after, I had found, scraped and deglazed enough change to round out the 7 bucks I needed to enter and on I went. Upon arrival at the trailhead, I saw the host (with hubby and dog) finishing up their morning stroll. I politely pointed out her tardiness and was informed that she is retired and doesn't really adhere to a schedule, to which I replied :?

    Well, now that she had my attention, she wanted to know where I planned to go today. I told her that I planned to do the Baby Jesus as an out and back. Her opinion was that I couldn't possibly accomplish such a feat in a single day in this heat, and that she would be calling SARA for sure. She went on to tell me that she once hiked from Mt Lemmon back down to the park and it nearly killed her. Now fully engaged in this, I came back with my intent to make my annual out and back of the same. She assured me of the impossibility of said trek, and I assured her that I had done so before. Her response was, and this is no shit, 'well you must be really tall then'(and yes, she was dead serious), to which I responded :lol: and I just had to walk away.

    So anyway, I went on to do my hike, but after my 3rd 'invisible' rattler encounter (the grass is unreal out there), I called off the mission about 1-1/2 mile short of the end. The bulk of the Baby Jesus is grassed over right now, so it was quite a nail biter heading back. I did see one rattler and got a pic to post. Real pretty snake. Not sure what kind. Good to be out :)
    Baby Jesus Trail from Catalina State Park
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    So, JJ texted me last week wanting to do the Baby Jesus for Christmas. I though “That’s Appropriate”, but had to move it up to Christmas Eve or be lynched by a hungry mob that I cook for Christmas Day. “I’m in” and arrangements were made.

    We hit the trail right about 9 and made pretty good time the whole way. Weather wise, it was about good as it could get ( Shorts and a tank top. Gotta love Christmas in AZ ). We only saw 2 hikers and 2 hunters on the Baby Jesus, but the closer we got to the TH the more people we saw until there were just people everywhere.

    Early in the trip, we discussed hitting Pusch Peak in the afternoon. Eventually though, the topic of food began to be the center of discussion until, well, tacos trump secondary hikes. So it was then, off to BKs Tacos. My first time, but excellent tacos and the servers are easy on the eyes too.

    Thanks for lunch JJ. Catch ya on the next run.
    Baby Jesus Trail from Catalina State Park
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    So, I went into work at about 06:30 to a surprise day off. There's more. I thought it quite odd that the owner had gotten up so early as to help me open, and further surprised that his main concern was that I take my pay check. Now imagine my surprise to find not one, but two checks in my envelope :y: . Wait a minute :? ... :doh:

    Well, it took me about 3.27 seconds to figure out what I was going to do with my new found freedom, and while this one was still in planning, it was the best I could wing on such short notice.

    While I can't say as I regret my trek, I would do it quite differently the next time. Today's route was only 70% trail with the remaining 30% that unbearable jeep trail, including it's tour through the outskirts of Catalina. I was actually 'good morning'ed by a woman whacking weeds in her back yard. This end of the hike offered ZERO solitude. Hunters, campers 4-wheelers, mountain bikers, ranch hands and ranch owners everywhere clear to the 8 mile mark. The 8 mile mark just so happened to be where the road ends and the Baby Jesus trail begins. I shant go into detail here, as I will be posting a description for the trail soon, but it all turned out to be a mentionable, and memorable trail, as the trip home would prove.

    Now, enough chit-chat. I need to get to bed early in prep for tomorrow's event.
    Baby Jesus Trail from Catalina State Park
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    Enjoying some familiar desert this morning, getting some miles. Nice nippy start just above the freezing mark when I started at 7:45, out by 1:45. Brought a green Gatorade bottle, opened it up and took a swig and about barfed, the nastiest tasting liquid I've ever drunk. I looked down at it to see what it was...LIME-CUCUMBER :o :yuck: :sk: I could NOT drink it. Even burping the rest of the day grossed me out, tasting that again.

    Did the Bridle from Catalina SP to 50 Year going clockwise, did most of the upper 50 Year and then back around to the Baby Jesus, Sutherland and back out.

    Pretty decent water flow in the washes, Catalinas snow is definitely starting to melt.
    Baby Jesus Trail from Catalina State Park
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    Took my 4-legged hiking buddy, Lilo, out for a dayhike which turned out a little longer than I anticipated. For some reason, the math I did before we left had the hike at around 8 miles, but we logged in closer to 10. Normally wouldn't be a big deal, but since I already thought 8 might be pushing it for her (it was her first hike in months), I felt a little bad. However, she was still dashing after rabbits and lizards even in mile 9, so I think she was fine.

    It was a beautiful day out there - perfect for Catalina Foothills hiking action. I needed to get the Baby knocked off my list of Catalina trails, and so this was the ideal day. I only wish I hadn't done a big gnarly yoga workout the day before, because I spend much of the hike in pain that probably had little to do with actually hiking. Of course, my achilles is still an issue, but less and less as I go one, which is good.

    The Baby Jesus trail was in excellent shape, aside from being heavily eroded in places and having many inelegant "work arounds" installed by equestrians and bicyclists (usually where there's a pinch point or low vegetation). I appreciate the needs of these users, but it usually just results in even more erosion and problems when it's done incorrectly. This particular trail is very popular with those user groups, though, so it's probably inevitable.

    Once on the Sutherland/Trail Link portions of the hike, I not only started hating life because of my sore legs and abs, but the whole "baby head boulder" thing on the old road bed was just icky. I hate this kind of hiking any day, and today was no exception. Luckily, it only lasted for like 3 miles. Only. Yeah. Picked up a piece of someone's leafspring off the roadbed. Glad I wasn't in that ride.

    Saw 4 jackrabbits on the hike, which is weird, because I rarely see any. Lilo only saw 2 of them - and boy was that a merry chase! A few scattered wild flowers, mostly perennials. I think it just dried up too much for them to really grow in. There was still water in a few pockets - even some flowing at the concrete Wooden Trough. No fish, though.

    Got back into civilization just to learn about JohnR1. So sad - but reminded me of where I want to be when my number is called. Made my feet hurt a little less and my heart a little more.

    Fairy dusters, desert lavender, mexican honeysuckle
    Baby Jesus Trail from Catalina State Park
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    Decided to take a day to see as much of the state trust area north of Catalina State Park as I could. If I had started earlier I think I could have seen it all (50-Year, Bridle Trail in Catalina SP, Sutherland Trail, Baby Jesus Trail, Upper 50-Year Trail and Deer Camp), but I ran short of time. I did however find an additional trail (which I now have learned is the Mid Tank Trail) that wasn't listed on any HAZ routes or on any other sites I had seen about the area.

    Started at Golder Ranch Drive parking area, headed south on the 50-Year Trail to its start in Catalina State Park, then took the Bridle Trail over to Sutherland and took Sutherland back north. Left the Sutherland Trail to pick up the Baby Jesus Trail, which is unmarked.

    At the end of Baby Jesus Trail I took the Upper 50-Year to what I thought was the Deer Camp Trail turnoff, but it ended up going east and then south back onto Baby Jesus. After I realized it wasn't going to be the Deer Camp Trail I decided to go ahead and follow it, thinking it might link back to Baby Jesus, and it eventually did. This is known as the Mid Tank Trail.

    Shortly after turning off of Sutherland, I came to the area where supposedly there was Wooden Trough Spring a quarter mile east and off trail. However I came to a concrete trough where water was dripping in. So I don't know if it was being run underground into this trough from another spot a quarter mile away or if the GPS coordinates were off. This trough had several red goldfish swimming in it, and the water was fairly clear and clean.

    Further north on Baby Jesus, I found an area that appears to be ruins. There was an old rock wall there. If you want to go out and see it, the coordinates are (N32.46291 W110.85576).

    At a stream near Cottonwood Tank there is an old, badly burned car. The entire thing has been torched, and it looks like people have built bonfires in the trunk.

    One other pretty cool thing I found...while on the Mid Tank Trail, at N32.47172 W110.85092 I found another spring (Mid Tank Spring, though unnamed on some maps) that is running into a trough from a plastic pipe. I followed the piping east a little ways to see where if it was coming from a spring, but I was starting to lose sunlight and decided to abandon that. It was was running about a quart an hour.

    When I got back near the ruins I was at the junction with Baby Jesus, and took that back up again and out. The Baby Jesus Trail (which I consider runs from Sutherland all the way to the upper 50-Year) is not as well defined as the other trails, but it is still pretty good.

    Very little wildlife today, just a lot of quail and a few crazy bikers on 50-Year. ;)

    Next time I'll have to cover the Upper 50-Year, and try finding Deer Camp once again! I'm now interesting in tackling Samaniego and the Samaniego ridgeline.

    Permit $$
    AZ State Parks more info
    2018 Day Use Fees range from $2–$30

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Catalina State Park Trailhead
    From Phoenix take 1-10 south to the 241 exit (Tangerine). Follow east to AZ 77 (Oracle Road). Turn right (South) on AZ77 and signs for Catalina State Park lead the way.

    From anywhere in Tucson, connect to Oracle Rd (Highway 77) and head north past Pusch Ridge. After you have gone about 15-20 miles you will see the sign for Catalina State Park on the right. There is an entrance fee to get into the park. To get to the trails, just drive in and follow the signs to a large parking area marked "trailhead".

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 107 mi - about 1 hour 44 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 14.0 mi - about 23 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 251 mi - about 3 hours 50 mins
    page created by joebartels on Dec 06 2015 5:39 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
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