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Hollins Basin
1 Photoset

7 by
Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking Jun 12 2003
Hiking3.00 Miles
Hiking3.00 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked descriptions
Partners none no partners
Hollin's Basin is a ponderosa pine flat with excellent camping in a remote part of the Eastern Santa Catalinas. Most people who go there start from Bear Canyon Campground. However, Cowgill and Glendening's "Santa Catalina Mountains" guidebook indicates that is possible to hike to the basin via Molino Canyon and West Fork Molino Canyon. I tried this route today.

The first part up Molino Canyon is fairly pleasant. However, once the route turns up a side canyon, it begins to deteriorate. This side canyon is extremely brushy, and forward travel is frustrating. Also, C & G's route adds an unnecessary 600 foot climb over a pass to West Fork Molino Canyon. Between the brush, heat, and climbing, I got very tired and thought it prudent to abort the trip and head back to Molino Basin.

I dropped down into West Fork Molino Canyon, intending to follow it down to my car. A few hundred yards down this canyon I came to a spectacular 150 ft. dry waterfall. I scrambled down the top third of this waterfall, and discovered a hidden water hole on a ledge of the waterfall. I stopped to rest here, and found that this remote and inaccessible tinaja was a bustling center of life and activity.

As I rested on the water-slicked granite, dragonflies flitted in the bushes nearby. Periodically, birds soaring overhead would tuck their wings behind them and make spectacular dives down towards me, to scoop some water into their beaks. I decided to cool off by wading into the neck-deep water, and when I did I discovered dozens of small frogs were clinging to the sheer walls of the waterfall, and hiding themselves in cracks in the granite. Their camoflage was so perfect I didn't see them until I was right in front of them. I swam to the other side of the waterhole and tucked my digital camera into several ziploc bags. Holding this package in my teeth, I swam into the center of the waterhole and stood on an underwater rock (the walls of the tinaja were too steep and slick to afford any purchase). I managed to snap a dozen photos of the frogs, some of them quite close up.

Reluctantly, I eventually packed up my things and picked my way over to the side of the waterfall, to continue my journey downstream. Looking up from the bottom, the ledge where I rested is practically invisible. You can't see it from the top either. Because you can climb around the sides of the waterfall without too much trouble, it is doubtful that many people have even seen that water hole. It amazes me that less that half a mile from the road you can find such a wild place. I was happy to have visited for a short time.

I recommend that if you are going to Hollin's Basin, you skip the route up Molino Canyon, which is brushy and adds unnecessary ascending and descending. When I return to this area, I will most likely just go up West Fork Molino Canyon and back down the same way.
"Of course we weren't lost. We were merely where we shouldn't have been, without knowing exactly where that was."

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