- Lower Highway Hikes - Santa Catalina Mountains - Southern Arizona
- Google Map Coordinates: 32.33967800 -110.71723800
- At This Trailhead: Molino Basin Trail, Sycamore Reservoir Trail, Bug Spring, Arizona Trail, Arizona Trail Pusch Ridge Wilderness Bypass
- Nearby Trailheads and Parking: Down-mountain Molino Basin Parking Area, Up-mountain Bug Spring Trailhead
Driving Time and Distance from Tucson
- 45 Minutes from Speedway and Campbell
- 21.3 miles from Speedway and Campbell
- Miles up Highway: 7.3 miles
- Side of the Highway: Up-mountain
- Vehicle Access: Most of the drive is Paved Roads/Passenger Car (Mountain Road - be careful of weather conditions!) - the drive to the end of the road parking area is on a dirt road that is generally in good condition and passenger car friendly.
Fees and Services
- Fee: No
- Restrooms: Yes (May be closed seasonally (in the summer))
- Water: No
- This area is often referred to as 'Prison Camp' by locals.
The earliest name that I have seen for this area is Vail Corral or Vail’s Corral after Zack Vail who ran cattle in the area. That name can be seen in the image below from the 1904 USGS Tucson Quadrangle:
This area was the site of a Prison Camp beginning in 1939 (providing labor to build the General Hitchcock Highway) – some links about the human history of the area:
Confinement and Ethnicity: An Overview of World War II Japanese American Relocation Sites by J. Burton, M. Farrell, F. Lord, and R. Lord – a great resource including a map of the area and pictures.
Green Valley Recreation Hiking Club – Summary of Several Newspaper Articles about the Area
Driving Directions from the Speedway and Campbell intersection in Tucson - Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site:
- Drive East on Speedway (5.0 miles)
- Left on Wilmot and continue on Tanque Verde (4.3 miles)
- Left on Catalina Highway (11.8 miles)
- Signs mark the turn into the Gordon Hirabayashi Recreation Site on the down-mountain side of the Highway.
- If the gate is closed: park in the paved upper parking or one of the dirt pullouts and walk to the parking area at the end of the dirt road (this will add to the total mileage of your hike). If the gate is open: drive the 0.3 miles to the parking area at the end of the dirt road. Restrooms are located just before the parking circle at the end of the road (the restrooms may be closed seasonally) – no water is available.