35 down 15 to go?
This is a trail on the western slopes of the Catalina Mountains below Samaniego Ridge. Most of these trails in this area are used as mountain bike trails but do see some hikers, especially as you get higher up on the slopes of Samaniego Ridge. There is a maze of trails in this area many of them are not official named routes. Signage in this area is nonexistent. This trail starts at the Catalina State Park and then State Trust Land. A State Trust Land Permit may be required. I was informed by the locals that hiking in the area didn’t require a permit but parking on state Trust Land probably does. The rules for State Trust Land require that you get a permit if entering Trust Land. I went on line and got a year pass for $15.00 to be on the safe side.
The 50 Year trail is said to of gotten its name from the 50 year lease the county has with the state Land Department. Currently they are in at about 35 years of the lease. This description is from the south end of the trail in Catalina State Park but there are other access points from the end of Golder Ranch Road if not wanting to start at the south trailhead.
The 50 Year trail is definitely a mountain bike trail but doesn’t mean it can’t be done by hikers also. The trail follows an old two track for the first 2.5 miles to the Catalina State Park Boundary where it follows a single track most of the rest of the way. The first half of the trail is signed but the last half is lacking so a GPS route is helpful. From the trailhead in Catalina State Park the trail climbs 400 feet in the first 1.6 miles so it is a fairly gradual climb if hiking. The next 6 miles it stays fairly level never changing more than 100 feet and the last 1.1 miles it climbs the final 300 feet and ends at the Junction with the Gem Trail and the 50 Year Upper Trail. There are many unofficial side trails splitting off from the 50 Year and toward the northern end where the trail is not signed very well, this can be confusing. At the Catalina State Park boundary 2.5 miles in the trail passes through a gate, immediately after the gate there is a sign indicating that the 50 Year trail continues straight along the two track but there is another sign that indicates a bypass trail. The 50 Year actually follows the bypass trail. This appears to be a new section of the trail created to make it a little easier for bikers. The road is very rocky for the next 0.6 miles and the bypass avoids this by taking another route. Both end up at the same place but the bypass does it in 1.3 miles. This bypass is a much smoother trail but for hikers it seems like it does a lot of needles meandering. At 7.8 miles in the trail crosses into National Forest but only for a short distance before entering State Trust Land again. The last 1.1 miles of trail actually feels more like a hiking trail as it climbs to a small saddle, the trail gets narrower with views to the southwest.
While this trail feels more like a mountain bike trail than a hiking trail and I would not choose this as a destination hike, there are some aspects of it that I liked. Some of the best unobstructed close up views of Pusch Ridge are along the first 2 miles of this trail. I found it hard to keep an eye on the trail because I found myself wanting to gaze off at the ridge, awesome views. Nice trail to do at least in part after a winter storm puts snow on Pusch Ridge. This trail is also a good connector trail to many of the other trails in the area and can be used as part of a longer loop hike.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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.