The Babad Do’ag Trail (bob-ott doe-awk) is a short hike up the MacDougal Ridge that provides scenic views of Tucson and its surrounding mountain ranges.
Babad Do’ag originates from the native Tohono O’odham language and means “Frog Mountain”. The word refers to the Catalina Mountains, where the trailhead is found.
- Distance: 4 miles (Out and Back)
- Hike Time: 2-3 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,040 ft
- Fee: No
- Dogs: Yes
- Difficulty: Easy. Gradual ascent throughout
The Babad Do’ag Trail begins on the lower flanks of the Catalina Mountains in a typical Sonoran Desert biome. For most of the ascent, you will find yourself surrounded by mature saguaros, ocotillo, prickly pear, and cholla.
The views from this trail are spectacular. Make sure to bring a camera and if you can, time it so you can witness the golden hour.
When my dog Arrow and I went, a storm passed through and soaked us with rain. When we reached the top of the ridge, I noticed some charred shrubbery and got spooked. It seemed like a bad idea to continue in the lightning and thunder. We turned around less than a half mile from where the trail ends.
About halfway up, you will notice a canyon open up on the left. Once you reach the saddle, another terrific view comes into sight. If you are lucky enough to catch it after some rain, there is a waterfall to the left.
The trailhead is located at the Babad Do’ag Vista pullout, between milepost two and three on the Catalina Highway. The trail itself begins about 100 yards up the highway from the parking lot, on the left side. There is a signpost that indicates where to start.
- Water: There are no water sources on this trail. Bring plenty of water.
- Best Time to Travel: September through May. Summers are hot and this trail is exposed, so you feel it. The monsoon season can provide some relief.
- Safety: Know the forecast before you go. Be wary of lightning and thunder, especially atop ridges.