Located a few miles up the Mount Lemmon Highway, the Babad Do’ag Trail follows an old bulldozer track up MacDougal Ridge on the southern flanks of the Santa Catalina Mountains. This old route had been nearly forgotten until the trail was rebuilt and renamed during the 17 year Mt Lemmon Highway road improvement project which began in 1988.
The old bulldozer track is evident on lower stretches of the trail
As part of the improvement project, Babad Do’ag Vista was also built, now the first major pullout on the drive up the Mt Lemmon Highway. An interpretive display at the vista explains that “Babad Do’ag” is the Tohono Oʼodham name for the Catalina Mountains, meaning “Frog Mountain”. Babad Do’ag Vista provides plenty of trailhead parking for the hike.
Oak chaparral and desert grassland near trail’s end
This is an enjoyable and moderate outing. The trail first climbs through stands of Saguaro cactus and other Sonoran vegetation and ends in eye-pleasing oak chaparral and grassland. Hikers are also treated to an array of great views along the entire route. Take care: summer heat can be intense on this hike, since it faces south and is low elevation
About 2.6 miles up the ridge, a metal sign marks trail’s end, though an obvious “social trail” continues past the sign. This marks the beginning of a cross country route that eventually joins the Soldier Trail a little over a mile to the northwest.
Agua Caliente Hill, Mica Mountain, and Rincon Peak are distant high points
Find trailhead parking at Babad Do’ag Vista near milepost 2.6 on the Mt Lemmon Highway. The trail begins a few hundred feet up the highway beyond the vista, on the north side of the road.
Season: Fall, winter and spring — south facing and low elevation, so summer temperatures can be quite hot.
Water: None: bring plenty of your own.
Note:. This is a Forest Service fee area.
Difficulty: Moderate. About 2.5 miles one-way to trail’s end, with 950 ft elevation gain.