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Upper Molino Canyon Loop - 4 members in 4 triplogs have rated this an average 4.3 ( 1 to 5 best )
4 triplogs
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4 Triplogs
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Jan 04 2020
jladderud
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 Guides 1
 Routes 12
 Photos 17
 Triplogs 78

30 male
 Joined Oct 05 2017
 Tucson, AZ
Upper Molino Canyon LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 04 2020
jladderud
Hiking5.20 Miles 1,800 AEG
Hiking5.20 Miles   5 Hrs   53 Mns   1.20 mph
1,800 ft AEG   1 Hour   33 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
My buddy and I went up Molino Canyon in December with the intent of going up Airman; but we were so captivated by the canyon that we continued up it and bagged Guthrie Peak instead. We returned to check out Airman, Molino Thimble, and West Molino Canyon. The trek up Molino went quickly, with lots of rock hopping amidst a beautiful stream with small waterfalls. Turning West from that the trekking got slower with more snow and flora to navigate. We got to the saddle north of Airmen where it was a "choose your own adventure" to get to the summit. For better or for worse we skirted west of the north ridge.

From there we had eyes on Molino Thimble, a short and straightforward ridge walk away. Gaining the Thimble summit is possible via a deep chimney on its east side. I read two descriptions labeling it as Class 4; but I found it to be 5.easy. Furthermore, the exposure and fall consequence seemed greater than described. Not sure if the landscape of chockstones has changed or if my predecessors were just bolder than me (and I'm often accused of not having an amygdala). Regardless, I eventually made my way up while my partner opted to stay at the base.

From the thimble, we bushwhacked north down to West Molino. This canyon is awesome! Some of the biggest falls I've seen in Southern AZ. More slow going as we navigated Class 3 terrain with very real fall potential. Overall a stunning day in the foothills.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Upper Molino Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 West Fork Molino Creek Heavy flow Heavy flow
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Apr 05 2013
camiles
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 Triplogs 108

46 male
 Joined Feb 19 2012
 Tucson, AZ
Upper Molino Canyon LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 05 2013
camiles
Hiking6.00 Miles 2,000 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles
2,000 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Molino Canyon - Airmen Peak - off the NW side via a very small drainage rather than back to the saddle (was paying more attention to chatting with Dave than navigating, I had done come off the Peak this way before and knew it was not lovely but goes without any issues so we just rolled with it) - West Fork. Still a pleasant amount of water, but not like it was in January! More water in the West Fork (which has been my experience in the past too). Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmiles/set ... 169922658/
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Mar 25 2013
fricknaley
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 Guides 93
 Routes 384
 Photos 3,920
 Triplogs 3,011

45 male
 Joined Jun 20 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Upper Molino Canyon LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 25 2013
fricknaley
Hiking5.00 Miles 2,120 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles
2,120 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
finally made it up to airmen peak. took the wrong approach from the saddle and had to drop back down, then plow up the overgrown drainage but made it in the end. fabulous views from up there.

:y:

then off to work
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hi
Mar 01 2013
writelots
avatar

 Guides 19
 Routes 40
 Photos 5,602
 Triplogs 339

47 female
 Joined Nov 22 2005
 Tucson, AZ
Upper Molino Canyon LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Mar 01 2013
writelots
Canyoneering4.70 Miles 1,500 AEG
Canyoneering4.70 Miles
1,500 ft AEG
Canyon Hiking - Non-technical; no rope; easy scrambling; occasional hand use
A - Dry or little water; shallow or avoidable water; no wet/dry suit
III - Normally requires most of a day
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
sirena
The first time I did this hike I really had no idea what I was getting into. While sometimes this "ignorance is bliss" approach to hiking is deliberate, this time we thought we knew what we were getting into... We were headed for Airmen Peak north of Molino Basin and we were armed with a description we'd found on another reputable website. It described an almost entirely off-trail route up the main fork of Upper Molino Canyon to the peak, over a saddle and then back down a "more rugged" West Fork. We expected to be gone 4-5 hours. Note to self: never, ever underestimate the Catalinas!

We started out in great spirits, and with a mind to enjoy every waterfall and mini-pool we encountered. Which is another way of saying we were dawdling up the creek. We figured we'd have plenty of time to do a 6 mile loop without having to hurry.

By the time we were a little more than half way up to the saddle below Airmen Peak, it was already mid-afternoon and we were feeling the work of the climb. I for one was getting tired and though I had no doubts that I could push on to the peak, I also had no idea what awaited us on the other end of the loop and I really did not want to do any of the hike in the dark. We decided to put off bagging the peak for another day and just head down the West Fork of Molino. Our description said that it was 'more rugged' than the main fork we'd been in the first part of the day. That's like saying that the first canyon is 'more rugged' than the road walk in Sabino. And, while the author had mentioned a number of specific (and rather minor) obstacles on the way up, there were none mentioned on the way down.

That is in my opinion a glaring error. 200' waterfalls are not a minor obstacle. When you're already tired and pushing daylight in a remote canyon, they're a little scary.

After some brief nervousness and trepidation, however, we got past the falls quickly and without any real danger. We did manage to make it out before the sun fell below the horizon, and at the end of the day that's all that really matters. No one worried about us and we still got pizza and spinach dip at Renee's. What a fantastic way to spend a Friday.

Next time, though, I'm going to be a little more mentally prepared, especially when I'm not familiar with the source of my beta. It was just a little more adventure than I was ready for...
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Upper Molino Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Hikebot entry based on posted photos

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max West Fork Molino Creek Light flow Light flow
Hikebot entry based on posted photos
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Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.- Barack Obama
average hiking speed 1.2 mph

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.

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