Molino Ridge


As you pass Molino Basin and head up towards Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Area (also known as Prison Camp), you see a lovely ridge on the left, paralleling the road. The ridge passes a couple of rock towers before finishing up on a summit that overlooks Prison Camp. This hike follows the ridge, scrambling over the towers, and finishing at the highest rocks on the summit. It’s a beautiful and solitary hike with very few cacti, and you probably won’t see anyone else on the whole hike.

Start at Molino Basin and either hike west on the Arizona Trail or walk along the campground road to the group campsite. From here climb steeply up the blunt ridge past a few rocky outcrops to where the gradient eases. Continue more easily until you reach a point where the whole ridge stretches out in front of you (see photo above, with the route marked in red).


The route continues along the ridge with spectacular views all around. Scramble up and over two rock towers (visible in the second photo) with some class 3 and one move of hard class 4 on the second tower (at least the way I did it). Interestingly, there is an old barbed wire fence between the two towers. You could obviously skirt around the rock towers but this would be unpleasant and ugly, rather than airy and exciting 😄.

From the end of the second tower continue up the ridge towards the summit ridge. Just before you reach the summit ridge, another small ridge heads left to a small peak. Since you’ll probably never be here again you might as well do this one too. Once back on the main ridge, continue up to the summit ridge, which heads left past a few little hoodoos until you reach the obvious highest rock. Climb this and admire the view.

To descend, head down to the road and the Arizona Trail, and descend the Arizona Trail back to Molino Basin.

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