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Monday, January 18, 2016


Pusch Ridge Wilderness, Tucson
Finger Rock Canyon Trail

Commanding the skyline above Finger Rock Canyon is an eponymous stone pinnacle that resembles a clenched fist with its index finger pointing toward the heavens. This is your first clue to the nature of the trail that makes an aggressive, unrelenting ascent of its rugged domain. Finger Rock Trail #42 begins with a moderate walk among massive rock slabs, sheer cliff faces, saguaros and seasonal creeks replete with mini waterfalls and lush greenery. But don't get too comfortable because the party's over at the 1-mile point, where just beyond Finger Rock Spring, the trail begins its assault on your physical and mental fortitude. The route wastes no time gaining elevation. Like a giant staircase, the trail moves uphill via tight switchbacks and high-step maneuvers with few breaks in between. Much of the path clings to the edge of the canyon walls offering both terrific views and plenty of queasy exposure. In some spots, you're hiking just inches from sheer drop offs. The canyon's sharp-edged geology, hardy Upper Sonoran Zone vegetation and unspoiled ambiance are a tribute to its protected status within Pusch Ridge Wilderness.
Although the suburbs and industrial parks of Tucson are visible from the trail, the canyon oozes a strong, untamed character. Embrace the wild by inhaling the brisk mountain breezes, listening for tumbling water and the cries of raptors while keeping an eye out for desert big horn sheep creeping along clefts and ridge lines. (To protect the sheep, dogs are not allowed on the trails within the wildlife management area).
Conquering this delightfully agonizing trail is a feather-in-the-cap for experts, but trekkers of all skill levels can also enjoy the hike by adapting the length to suit. The super-high-octane version of this trek includes a side trip up to 7,258-foot Mount Kimball. To reach the summit, veer left at the junction with Pima Canyon Trail #62 at 3.9 miles and hike a half-mile on #62 to the summit spur. Other landmark-specific turnaround points are listed below.
Turnaround options:
Finger Rock Spring: 1 mile, 3,520' (400' elevation gain)
Wind Cave: 2 miles, 4,500' (1,380' elevation gain)
Linda Vista Saddle: 3.5 miles, 5,700' (2,580' elevation gain)
Mt. Kimball: 4.2 miles, 7,258' (4,138' elevation gain)
LENGTH: 6.3 miles one-way (Trail #42 only)
RATING: difficult
ELEVATION: 3,120' - 6,880'(trail #42 proper)
RULES: dogs are not allowed
From Interstate 10 in Tucson, take the Ina Road exit 248. Follow Ina Road to where it curves into Skyline Drive, continue to the 9.6-mile point, turn left on Alvernon Road and go 0.9 mile to the trailhead parking lot on the left. The trail begins a few yards up the road on Alvernon.
INFO & MAP: Santa Catalina Ranger District, Coronado National Forest
Desert Big Horn Sheep:

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