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50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop, AZ

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Guide 24 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson NW
2.8 of 5 by 6
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 21.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,718 feet
Elevation Gain 1,170 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,067 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 31.74
Interest Ruins & Seasonal Creek
Backpack TBD
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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13  2017-12-21 DarthStiller
6  2015-11-10
Baby Jesus Trail from Catalina State Park
2  2015-04-16 fearnestiv
21  2014-02-24 writelots
14  2011-11-18 azdesertfather
5  2011-07-18 sirena
7  2010-08-25 sirena
22  2010-05-13
Sutherland Trail #6
Page 1,  2
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,742 map ( 18,136 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb
Seasons   Early Winter to Early Spring
Sun  6:07am - 6:31pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
The name's funny enough
by fricknaley

Background: The 50 Year Trail is a mountain bike favorite out of Catalina State Park. Looking at the map it seems that it would run along some nice, seldom visited desert and offer unique views of the Catalinas. Plus it's long. Baby Jesus just has the coolest name ever for a trail. This is a unique hike for Tucson in that you can log 20+ miles without 4000-7000 feet. Usually that kind of gain is exactly what I'm looking for, but every now and then you need something different, right?

Hike: From the ubiquitous Trailhead in Catalina State Park take off from the back corner onto the Bridle Trail. This is nothing but a short connector segment to get you over to the 50 Year Trail's official beginning. It's a short, easy walk straight west. After o.6 miles, you will cross the road leading to the group camping area. Pick the trail up on the other side and continue 0.8 fast miles to the official 50 Year trailhead, 1.4 miles from the parking lot. There is a sign announcing your arrival, the trailhead takes off from the back of the Equestrian Center. You are now going to hike north, then northeast for a long ways. The trail starts off wide and sandy but narrows down before too long, to a comfortable trail wandering through the desert. There are always fantastic views of Pusch Ridge, then later of Samaniego Ridge and Charouleau Gap and it's neighboring Peak 5961 to the north to be had. After about 4 miles total, you will come to a small fence to pass through, marking the park boundary, and entering State Trust Land. The trail makes a hard right just through the fence, then continues back on it's normal course. Of note, the trail is generally always well-signed and there are a lot of nameless trail braking off all over, but they should never really fool you. About 0.9 miles from the fence you will come to the signed junction for the Sutherland Trail Link, breaking off to your right. Stay on 50 Year. The next roughly 3 miles are a simple desert wander. You will cross over a few dirt roads. There are innumerable palo verde, cholla and prickly pear. After about 7.6 miles or so, you will come to the parking lot used by mountain bikers, off FSR 642. You will loop around the east end and then continue a minor descent into the desert heading north. Notice the continuation of FSR'll be back for this. Continue on the 50 year trail as it enters slightly more rocky and scenic immediate desert. There are big rock piles and boulder piles around, and the saguaro pick up too. The trail starts to wind around more here and nameless trails start to break off all over. The main route is signed. From the bikers parking lot, the 50 Year trail continues on about 3 more miles. The Green Trail map says 2.9, the Rainbow map says 3. I went 3.4 and never actually saw the end of the trail, but I quit seeing Trail signs, so I'm not really sure where the trail officially ends and the nameless routes take over. I just turned around atop a ridge and headed back, relatively satisfied I had walked as much of the 50 Year trail as any map had to offer.

You can head back the long way or look for a certain unnamed branch point atop a ridge. A trail sign right here sends you one way, a clear wide trail goes the opposite. You can take this as a shortcut back to the main 50 Year trail and shave off about 1.2 miles on the way back. At (32.49520, -110.86765) make a left on your way back instead on the signed right down the slope to access this shortcut route. It's probably only a 0.3 mile route at most, just make all the rights whenever there is a split and you'll end up back on the 50 Year trail right at a sign marker. Head back to the FSR 642 for the next leg.

At FSR 642 make a left onto the road, crossing over the cattle guard and passing through the open gate. Head down the rocky road, making rights whenever you see a split in the road. After about 0.5 miles on the rough road you'll bottom out in a circular wash. On the other side of the wash is a rickety old fence with some ill-defined paths leading off. Interestingly, even though the Baby Jesus trail appears on two separate maps of the Catalinas it is not signed on either end. The first trail far right is NOT the one you want. Look one or two to the left, and see a small gate through the fence with a small brown sign simply stating no motorized vehicles and another small sign saying something to the effect of Rehabilitation Area or something like that. No mention of the trail name, but you'll know it's the Baby Jesus because it's the only one with any signage at all.

My GPS told me I was 14 miles in here. The maps say the Baby Jesus is 3.8 miles. So away you go. The trail is rather primitive and if you look it will you will see testimony to how overgrown it is. This was not the case on this day. Primitive yes, but there's much worse in the Catalinas or Superstitions or wherever you call home. There is always something to follow and enough traffic to generate some prints to follow. It's a narrow trail the runs southeast then south behind Baby Jesus Ridge and it's famed petroglyphs. There are several creek/wash crossing along the way and there may well be some water trickling by. The only true climbing of the hike is along this segment, but it's less than 1000 feet. The trail affords spectacular views into the high country of Samaniego and the Catalinas. As long as you closely scrutinize the route and path, you will not get lost.Roughly 2.75 miles or so from the beginning of the Baby Jesus you will come to a large cement spring, named Wooden Trough Spring. The trail cuts down in front of the trail here and to the right, descending slightly to cross some washes and ultimately heading towards some power lines that cut up Cargodera Canyon to Mt. Lemmon. The power lines signify the end of the sweet Baby Jesus trail at the Sutherland Trail. You'll know the Sutherland for it's a wide rocky road in this stretch. There is no sign marking the trail intersection. Only a moderate sized-cairn signifies the Baby Jesus trail on this end.

Turn right onto the Sutherland and prepare for a mile of the worst torture as you stumble a mile sharply down the rocky road, which just brutalized your feet and ankles after a good 17.5+ plus miles on the trail. Do what you gotta do to make it down this mile, where the Sutherland breaks off the road at a signed intersection, to the right back into the foothills. From here it is a much more smooth 1.8 mile descent amidst magnificent views of the mountains down into Sutherland Wash, where a sign points you the right, last 0.8 merciful miles back to the trailhead. There are a couple of nice wash crossings in this last stretch, which often has water running, even when it appears dry at the Romero trailhead. Total mileage is about 21.4 for this trip, through some nice country. Please don't try this hike when it's hot. There is almost no shade at all.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2009-02-05 fricknaley
    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
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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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.
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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    Did a 15-mile loop I came up with in the area. Starting off of the Golder Ranch TH, did a clockwise loop 50-Year / Baby Jesus / Sutherland / link trail to Bridle / 50-Year. Wasn't expecting the heat spike, should've checked the weather. Expecting an 80-degree high, ended up with a record high of 91 out there. Thankfully when I went through the parking lot for the Romero Pools TH, the snack shop was open. Walked in, downed a Coke and snagged a liter of water to hammer through the final 6 miles. How often can you buy something to drink on the trail?!
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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    Half day visit & hike at Catalina on our way to Picacho Peak.
    Clockwise loop - Bridle :next: 50 Year :next: Trail Link :next: Sutherland :next: Romero Canyon.
    Lots of wild flowers throughout, especially along Sutherland & Canyon Loop.
    Some cool water flow along the way to splash the face on this warm afternoon.
    Enjoyable stop!
    On to Picacho .....

    Substantial along the Sutherland & Canyon loop trail.
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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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.
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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    Sutherland Loop
    Decided to try out a track write lots posted a little over a year ago, that took in part of the Sutherland, part of 50 Year, and a few others. Parked at the trailhead at the end of Golder Ranch Road and headed south to a north entrance into Catalina SP. Followed FR643 through the Sutherland Gate and onto the Sutherland, heading toward the Sutherland TH in the park. Turned off before I got there toward the west and north, and onto the 50 Year, then headed back.
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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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
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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    Great day and plenty of water along Baby Jesus Trail and in Wooden Spring. Started out at the the Equestrian Center in Catalina State Park. Didn't follow 50-Year to the end; just cut right down Baby Jesus. Took me a long time to get down the Baby Jesus Trail because I kept stopping and looking at the mountains. Views worth the walk. Cut down the Trail Link from Sutherland back to 50-Year.
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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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.
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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    Nice afternoon to sneak out and hit a few things out in Catalina SP i've been meaning to do. I took the bridle trail over to 50 year trail and cruised along that out into mesas. I've been meaning to hike the Sutherland Link Trail back to the sutherland trail from the 50 year trail, to scratch that off my catalina list.

    the sutherland link trail is really a very rough jeep track that goes cross country from the 50 year trail to the sutherland trail coming down from cargodera canyon, and it roughly parallels the power lines coming down the mountain. nothing fancy about this trail, but an interesting first walk along it, nonetheless.

    took the sutherland back and hit up the hidden falls on the way back for the first time in a few years...dry as a bone despite the recent rains. i've still yet to see these falls really going well despite several visits. i'll time it right one of these days. :oplz:

    Finished it up with a quick loop on the birding trail to watch the sun go down.

    oh yeah...i saw two bobcats at the end of the day as well :y: :o :DANCE:
    50 Year - Baby Jesus Loop
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    I was in dire need of a deathmarch and this served the purpose well. Interesting land out there with just great views of the mountains. It was a little hotter than I would have liked, luckily the washes were trickling so I dunked my head every chance I got. I know the 50 year trail is a big mountain bike trail, but I only saw one person. I think weekdays see way less bike traffic out there.

    The Baby Jesus is just a sweet trail through the foothills out behind Baby Jesus Ridge, hidden from the world.

    Permit $$
    Visit this link for full details.

    There are four specific day use areas that require a Coronado Recreational Pass or a National Pass/America the Beautiful Pass.
    1) Sabino Canyon - located on the Santa Catalina Ranger District (520)749-8700
    2) Madera Canyon - located on the Nogales Ranger District (520)281-2296
    3) Cave Creek - located on the Douglas Ranger District (520)364-3468
    4) Mt. Lemmon at 11 day use sites.

    Catalina State Park $6 per day. Sabino Canyon Tram is $10 extra.

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

    Catalina State Park State Park

    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 fricknaley on Feb 05 2009 8:27 pm
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