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Bellota Trail #15, AZ

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Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
3.4 of 5 by 11
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 11 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,286 feet
Elevation Gain 1,300 feet
Avg Time One Way 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.33
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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1  2019-02-10
Soldier/AZT/La Milagrosa
3  2018-11-17
Redington Pass - AZT #10
39  2018-03-17
Redington Pass - AZT #10
14  2017-03-04
AZT: I-10 to Summerhaven
34  2017-03-04
AZT Spring Break 2017
42  2015-12-19
Airmen Peak
9  2015-02-03
Redington Pass - AZT #10
20  2014-12-26
Redington Pass - AZT #10
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author BrettVet
author avatar Guides 15
Routes 40
Photos 335
Trips 48 map ( 525 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan → 8 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:08am - 6:26pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
City Slickers section AZT
by BrettVet

The trail travels from Molino Basin, up over a saddle into rolling grassland hills with rock formations and ends at Redington road. The Italian springs trail continues on the other side of Redington road. The hike can be started from either end and is great as a two party hike starting form both ends and exchanging car keys in the middle. The Molino Basin end starts from the restroom at Molino basin between milepost 5 and 6 on the Catalina Highway. The trail crosses the road and parallels the creek for a short distance then crosses the creek and begins the ascent up the saddle to the east. . At the saddle you go through a gate and enter Bellota Ranch. The trail drops down into a valley with the Rincon mountains in the distance and Aqua Caliente summit in view. At the bottom of the hill is the West Spring that is a cement solar powered cattle trough. From here the trail follows FR36 which is an overgrown 4x4 road. After about a mile it intersects an unsigned, but cairned trail to the south that goes up a side canyon. This is the Meligrosa canyon trail that goes down between the Melagrosa and Agua Caliente canyons and ends at Snyder road in Tucson. (Another great hike for another time) The trail takes off to the right after another mile or so and is marked with AZ trail markers. Follow the trail and don't be tempted to go up the road to the left, even though the topo map says to. This is a ranch road and is more traveled. The trail then becomes a single track trough rock formations to the south of Bellota ranch., Bellota ranch is dude ranch owned by Tanque Verde Guest Ranch and people pay big bucks to stay there to get the same hike your getting for FREE. The road to Bellota Ranch is intersected right after a pond. Go to the left up the hill on the road to find the trail continuation. From here the trail climbs out of the valley with more scenic views and a few deer. Reddington Road is a sight for sore eyes with the trailhead parking across the road. Form Tucson this trailhead is 12.5 after Redington road turns to dirt.

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.

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

2007-02-14 BrettVet
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One-Way Notice
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.

Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
Bellota Trail #15
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We originally had a different plan but nite time temps and not wanting to spend 12 hours in a tent, inspired us to pick a Plan B. Tracy came up with this one and though the shuttle is brutal we got 'er done. It took us 4 hours to set up the shuttle on Redington Road and Molino Basin parking. Traveling that rough and tough Redington Road coming and going in the AM made us think we were all ready tired and beat up and we hadn't even set foot to the trail.

The hike up the hill out of Molino Basin is actually pretty nice as they throw in a couple switchbacks altho I thot it would send us to the right but we ended up veering left to that saddle. I was feeling the oats as they say so I headed on up and was able to look back and get pictures of the others. The views from the saddle looking both ways is pretty sweet with the two sky islands, Santa Catalina and The Rincons. Off in the distance to the east I thot I could see two silos. We would later see that they were two Italian Cypress trees at the Bellota Ranch.

Down from the saddle we headed south and east. It takes awhile to get down so we were happy that we had made the choice to hike it from this side first. We would have another hill on the other side but it was a lot more gradual and not quite as steep. We encountered two other couples and another single hiker as we made our way down to West Spring which you can't miss for the two brightly colored cottonwoods and the big tank. At the big tank I was surprised to see a little moat constructed around a portion of it. Very interesting.

We would continue on a bit of a road for awhile admiring the tall hills and mountains on either side and behind us. It was pleasant walking as the trail was in very good shape. There was also plenty of water around; I assume from last week's rains. We were surprised at how much water we would see. We had our lunch in Agua Caliente drainage on the beach. We didn't take too much time before we were on the trail again. About 1/2 hour later we would get our first view of the Galiuros to compliment the Rincons on our other side and the Catalinas behind.

I remarked we would be coming on The Lake pretty soon and Shawn said to not get my hopes up. As we passed by it was more like a big pond. We came upon a nice Arizona Trail sign where Shawn could trim some of the tree that was obstructing the view. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted what looked like water so Tracy and I went to check it out. THERE was the real The Lake. It was very photogenic and after admiring it for awhile we came back to re-join Ambika and Shawn at the trail.

About a mile later we ran into some hikers on the other side of the gate (about the 1/2 way point). One was a thru hiker who was in need of some shoe repair so we offered our electronic suggestions. He had also written a haiku about his experience with a coati the nite before. The other two hikers were section hiking the AZT coming from Redington Road. One of the gals took our picture. As we got a little higher above the drainage we spotted the ranch and that's where I saw the two silos, I mean Italian Cypresses, earlier from the saddle above Molino Basin. It seemed surprising how far we had come even though it was only about 5 miles from that saddle.

We had a couple more miles before we would start our little climb and continued to enjoy our views. We took a break at about the 7 1/2 mile mark and in a little over a mile we would begin the slight climb. You could see where the fire had eaten some of the wood stair blocks and along the way you could also see the burnt trees and cactus as we came out of a drainage. ( ... pass-road/) Earlier in the day we had seen a dozer cut over by West Spring. If it was all the same fire it was the 23,000 acre Burro Fire. The 600 foot climb had a very nice grade with a switchback here and there. The temps were nice so I was able to make good time and once again be able to shoot back at my fellow hikers coming my way.

Once we got to a saddle we contoured along the side of the mountain where we stopped for about 5 minutes before completing the rest of our journey. As we topped out we enjoyed views of all the mountains once again as we made our way on the trail between the golden grass. Soon we would see White Tank and then spot the truck. From here it was downhill to the gate and we could relish the last of our hike... even though I had no beer to cheer me on :( .

We piled into the truck and headed down the rough and rugged Redington Road with a big awh for the second time of the day when we hit pavement. We did go by a couple areas where there were quite a few vehicles so I assume there is some easy hiking in the vicinity. The shooting area was a mess of plastic bags. However, the sun was shining nicely on the leafed-out ocotillos so we did enjoy that. We picked up our other vehicle and headed down the Catalina Highway to Taco Giro where we enjoyed a most excellent meal except for the apparently non-tequila peach margarita. It was pretty but no tequila means no margarita.

Videos are in production. Having to work with my laptop as my brother is working on my over-loaded computer.
from Molino to almost West Spring: [ youtube video ]
from above West Spring to just past Agua Caliente drainage: [ youtube video ]
about 1/2 way, we found THE Lake [ youtube video ]
finishing the last big climb to Redington Road [ youtube video ]
Bellota Trail #15
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Soldier/AZT/La Milagrosa Loop
good big loop using catalina highway, soldier trail, the AZT and la milagrosa ridge. perfect day. felt decent for the most part. saw some people here and there.

ended up being a small fire in molino basin the next day. yikes. certainly wasn't from me burning rubber :lol:
Bellota Trail #15
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AZT: I-10 to Summerhaven
Day 1: I decided to join Dallin on a portion of his Spring Break AZT dash. We were dropped off at Gabe Zimmerman TH on Saturday a.m. and started the trek at segment #8. It was a sunny, beautiful day. The trail is mostly flat and winds through a scenic desert. Saguaros dominate, Rincon Peak looms and neat geology surrounds. The smell of spring Creosote wafted through the air. Plenty of mountain bikers on this stretch. We breaked at Rincon Creek and enjoyed a brief soak. Heading up and into the mountains we would cross many flowing drainages and even saw a distant waterfall. After some climbing, we both hit a wall and stopped for camp on a rock slab 2 miles short of Grass Shack. Worst campsite ever. We were joined at camp by Anna, a solo backpacker on the 2nd night of her maiden voyage, who we'd been leap frogging in those last 6 miles.

Day 2: We woke up refreshed and determined to make up some milage. We started our climb up Mica Mountain. The ever changing terrain kept me in awe. Unlike anything I'd seen in AZ. The Juniper grasslands gave way to pines. The trail was beautiful and easy to follow. The creek at Grass Shack was flowing good. Temps dropped as we climbed and we didn't see any sunshine all day. Our nutrition / water break at Manning Camp was fairly chilly. We reached the top shortly after and enjoyed the stunning views. We hit a few snow patches on the north face of Mica. Nothing too bad but the slow melt made the trail loose and slick. We made our way down through the oak and manzanita forest before a nice afternoon/evening stroll over the rolling grasslands. Winds were ripping, deer were grazing and we both nearly stepped on a very lethargic baby rattler. After an impressive sunset and 1.5 hours of night hiking, we settled on another lousy camp site, but made it work.

Day 3: Didn't start well at all. I woke up with a screaming IT band and a serious case of pumpkin chaffe with a 25 mile day ahead. I threw an elastic knee brace on and went commando to help combat the chaffe (it helps). Needless to say, it took some warming up before I could move. I limped my way up the pass and down to Molino Basin. Dallin informed me that this was one of my last bail out options, but encouraged me to keep going, so I did. Once we topped out and I saw the views down into Sabino Canyon, my spirits were instantly lifted. I pushed on through the pain and was grateful I did. Wouldn't want to miss this canyon. We made our way back down into Saguaros and a lush riparian zone. The entire canyon and every drainage was raging. Quite a few day hikers and a few backpackers along this stretch. I can see why, Sabino is a showstopper. Despite my ailments, we were cruising along the canyon and making great time. Romero Pass put an end to that. I could barely lift my right leg at this point but we pushed on. Eventually we topped out and down into Wilderness of Rocks. More snow patches in this area. Some icy, but no additional gear is needed, just a careful step. The snow melt fueled good flowing water everywhere. We had about 5 miles left and I was hurting, completely drained and flat out delirious. Spending another night wasn't an option. Temps dropped quickly and darkness fell. We had a couple hours of night hiking with some interesting route finding along snowy creeks. It took some teamwork but we made it out and to our ride after road walking up from Marshall Gulch TH. Temps were already in the mid 30's. Burritos and beverages saved the day. Overall, an amazing and epic trip. We knocked out a good amount of trail with big climbs but I also got my pumpkin handed to me a few times throughout. Well worth it.

Brittles and poppies mostly. Still too early.
Bellota Trail #15
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This hike almost didn’t happen

My plan was to hike the AZT 10 from where Redington RD intersects the AZT. My ETA to the TH was 8:45. There was an accident on I-10 and that brought traffic to a standstill. This delayed me 45 minutes. After getting past the accident I continued on to Redinton RD. About10 miles from the intersection there was a sheriff and a road closed sign!! I then came up with plan B. Start at the northern end of the AZT 10. I when doubled-back to the Catalina highway and drove up to the Molino Basin campground.

My 8:45 ETA turned into a 10:15 arrival.

The Hike:
I went north on Bellota trail to the Prison Camp and checked it out. Then I headed south to the Italian trap TH. There was water everywhere! The creeks and washes were flowing heavy and fast. A good portion of the trail had water flowing down it. The Agua Caliente Wash was about 2 feet deep and 5 feet wide. I just bite the bullet and walked through it. I got to the Italian trap TH at dusk. FR4424 was a running creek.

On the way back, the valley was so cold I could see my breath.
Bellota Trail #15
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Loving the slightly milder temps that are making getting to some of the lower trails in the Tucson area more pleasant! I started at Molino Basin made the short/steep climb to the high point of the Bellota Trail, always great views, before plunging down towards towards the West Spring Tank and over to the (unsigned) junction with the La Milagrosa Ridge Trail - a new section trail for me!

I enjoyed the views down into Milagrosa and Agua Caliente Canyons, but maybe a little to much since I had to sit down and spend a few minutes with map/gps after running about a half mile past the junction I wanted! After backtracking I found the fun connector that took me down into Agua Caliente Canyon and back up the other side to a junction with the Agua Caliente Hill trail - Alison had given me a ride to Molino Basin before driving around to the Agua Caliente Hill Trailhead and it was great to meet her on the trail!

It was a little too late in the day to make the 3 mile up and back hike to the top so we just enjoyed the descent back to the trailhead... Beautiful day.

I liked this link up - not too long/strenuous (but still some climbing and challenge for sure) and leaving the Santa Catalina Mountains and ending up at the Agua Caliente Hill trailhead was a great journey. One picture:
Bellota Trail #15
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I was exactly 1 minute late to pick Joe up - I never heard the end of it. I-10 was closed on the way to pick Denny up. Now running a little later. Missed the turn to the Catalina Highway in Tuscon, and we were 20 minutes late in picking Dave up at the North TH Shuttle. None of it a big deal, since this was to be a short hike (13.4 miles) by our AZT standards. After making the 10 mile drive down the twisty, rutty, dusty, target shot riddled Redington road, we were ready to start our 36th AZT passage.

The weather was just about perfect on this day. Blue skies with hints of our friend Fraley gracing us. Looking back at the previous section, you could see Mica Mountain with a thin blanket of snow still on it.

This is another nice area. Some may not like the rolling hills and grass lands, I find it intriguing and almost calming.

We've hiked many AZT Passages in which we never saw an official Arizona Trail Sign at the Trail Head. This passage had 4 of them scattered the length of the trail. I

The gang was all in good spirits and anxious to knock off another AZT section.
683 miles (85% Distance Completed)
Bellota Trail #15
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This turned out to be another "much better than anticipated" segment.

Although one of the shorter segments we all seemed to suffer a tad from the lack of great expectations. Several segments didn't allow us to break for lunch until 15 or 16 miles yet here it seemed a task to accomplish less than half of the notably difficult segments.

As we get closer to that goal thing it's a trade off with sadness that it will eventually be over :( This annoying(entertaining ;) ) guy is going to miss the big guy, the skinny guy and the old guy.

Some sort of vervain or verbena was scattered about in areas. It wasn't very apparent being so small and low to the ground. Isolated doesn't seem to fit so I'm going with light.

Pop rocks!
Bellota Trail #15
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Short AZT hike today, we had already done the first 3 miles or so of it from Italian Trap to Reddington Road (why they start this segment 3 miles down a 4WD road instead of right off Reddington Road when there is even a parking area there, I have no clue...we still keep scratching our heads on that one). Met the guys at Gordon Hirabayashi TH to set up the shuttle, watched the sunrise while they took the "scenic route" before getting there ;)

Nice hike. Not a lot of long-distance views on this one...couldn't even see Lemmon really. Did have views of Mica Mountain for most of the first half. Climbed up to Molino Saddle for lunch, watched the view down below on the Catalina Highway and at Molino Basin Campground.

There was a bike race out there today, using a good chunk of this segment of the AZT, but thankfully we were ahead of them and only had a few of bikes go past us. The guys were being their crazy selves all day ... one of the highlights was when Joe and Bruce started arguing about which one of them had the bigger ego, and asked Denny and I to decide. The winner? Well, too close to call ... it depends upon the day. :lol:

Dropped down into Molino Basin and up around toward Gordon Hirabayashi, and ran into a Japanese couple who were hiking around the old POW prison camp, where one of their relatives had been during WWII.

Excited to fill in this little segment ... this puts us completing everything from the top of Mt. Lemmon to the Mexican border. Two segments to go north of Mt. Lemmon before we will have everything done from Mexico to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. :y: Getting close!
Bellota Trail #15
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After a 3 week layoff, the Boys from the Hood were back at it. This is another passage of the AZT, where the "Published" Trailheads make absolutely no sense. For day hikers, add 4.6 miles to the published distance. 2.3 miles on each end.

Leaving the house at 3a, we started hiking a bit after 6am. This was only because Father Dave and and his wife had placed a car at the north TH the day before, saving us 1 hour and 45 minutes in Shuttle set up time the day of the hike!! Thanks Dave and Theresa!

This hike starts out pretty tame from the Alta Loma TH until the climb starts 4 miles in. From there it's around 5000' in 10 miles to Manning Camp. This was the week for the Bioblitz'ers. We passed 3 or so groups on the trail around Grass Shack campground, which was one of their bases. The main base, where we took lunch, was at Manning Camp. We relaxed in the shade, ate some lunch, and refilled our water supplies.

Dave and Joe have already mentioned the wrong turn we took that cost us .75 miles or so. This was the only area that was poorly signed (At least for the AZT).

After a short side trip to Mica Mountain to view the area of the Former Lookout, we continued down the trail to my favorite section. You leave a dense forest and enter a meadow with scattered trees 7,500' or so up. the 180 degree views West, North, and East are to die for. It's like being in heaven (I can only imagine).

We finished this hike on Reddington Road, a shade over 12 hours after we started. We started just after first light, and finished just before dark. In my opinion, perfect use of the available daylight hours!

In addition to the Springs reported, there was filterable water in an intermittent stream at the 10 mile mark, and plenty of water in the stream south of Manning Camp, and at Manning Camp.

Thanks again Dave and Theresa for planting a car the day before, Denny for getting us to Tucson, and Nick for the cushy ride to the beginning of the hike.

AZT Status
Passages Completed -- 34
Passages Remaining -- 9
Miles Completed -- 640.0
Miles Remaining -- 172.1
Bellota Trail #15
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Joe's report was pretty good. We did one of the toughest segments of the Arizona Trail today. Because segment 9 ends at Italian Trap (which is not a nice road even for 4WD), we stopped at a parking lot at Reddington Road which the AZT (segment 10) goes through. Why the segment doesn't end there is beyond me. But with this extra 2-3 miles added on for segment 10, that makes this hike tied for #1 with the Superstitions #19 as the hardest hike, just ahead of the Rim to Rim segment 38.

Started out early with Denny up front followed by me, and I watched him step right over a coiled up rattlesnake. Thankfully he was cold and calm, he even let us go all paparazzi on him :). Soon after we passed another one, a blackmail, and he was not so nice. No photos of him!

The haul up Mica was a good workout. Most of the nearly 7,000 ft of elevation gain was in this part. Took lunch at Manning Camp, to give us an AEG break before the final 600 feet or so push to the top. Nice area!

Beyond Manning, be sure to look at every sign pointing ahead, on your left and on your right. Keep going straight unless you see a sign for a trail on your left or right that has an AZT logo underneath. No logo, no turn, and you'll be ok.

All of us but Joe took the 0.1 mile turnoff to the Mica Mountain summit. Nice view!

On the way down the north side, expect the nastiest trail, at least until the Saguaro NP boundary fence. As of this writing this area is very overgrown. This section has a steep grade too, to the point that my ankles started acting up so be prepared there.

Managed to finish with just barely enough light that we held off on the headlamps.

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)

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Molino Basin Trailhead
1. From I-10 & Grant: Head east on W Grant Rd 8.4 mi 20 mins
2. Turn left at E Tanque Verde Rd 3.2 mi 6 mins
3. Turn left at E Catalina Hwy 6.0 mi 9 mins

In addition to the trailhead this is a large, popular campground and day use area. Parking for day use is immediately after turning into the Molino Basin. The trailhead is signed and takes off out of the day use area.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 131 mi - about 2 hours 25 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 21.7 mi - about 49 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 275 mi - about 4 hours 31 mins
1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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