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Linda Vista Saddle, AZ

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Guide 22 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson NW
3.3 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,054 feet
Elevation Gain 2,537 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,717 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 20.09
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
30  2017-12-29
Upper Finger Rock Canyon
9  2017-08-03 rvcarter
3  2016-07-02 air
1  2016-04-04
Mount Kimball via Finger Rock
4  2016-03-17
Pontatoc Canyon to FingerRock Loop
3  2015-03-11
Mount Kimball via Finger Rock
Author rvcarter
author avatar Guides 33
Routes 304
Photos 2,146
Trips 236 map ( 1,436 miles )
Age 73 Male Gender
Location tucson, az
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Apr → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:08am - 6:29pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Finger Rock Fun
by rvcarter

We were somewhat surprised that this hike had never been written up in HAZ. Mountain_Rat got it started with a placeholder/short description on April 1, 2015. There have been 20+ triplogs submitted over the years along with lots of pictures, but never a detailed description. Probably just about everyone who has made the Mount Kimball trek knows the saddle as a rest/snack stop with killer views. But, it deserves its own limelight because it is an outstanding moderate hike on a great if sometimes rough trail.

Linda Vista translates from Spanish as “nice view” or “beautiful view”. Reached via a spur off the Finger Rock Trail in the foothills of Tucson, hikers are suddenly presented with fabulous and unimpeded views that extend far to the south (Mt. Wrightson), southeast (Tanque Verde Ridge and Rincon Peak), and southwest (Baboquivari).

Unfortunately, the huge log that served as seating at the saddle was burned in the fire that burned much of the ridge north of Pontatoc Canyon in August 2015. Evidence of the fire still abounds but the grasses and small bushes have recovered to a great degree. Luckily, fire didn’t spill over the ridge and continue down into Finger Rock Canyon.

One last thing, don’t confuse this hike with the similarly named “Linda Vista” which originates at the junction of Oracle Road and Linda Vista Boulevard in Oro Valley north of Tucson, and serves as the start to Pusch Peak.

Start at the Richard McGee Finger Rock Trailhead at the north end of North Alvernon Way and climb a few hundred feet up the relatively steep start to a sign which shows most of the trails in the area. The trail heading east is Pontatoc Canyon #410, from which Pontatoc Ridge #411 branches off after about 2/3 mile. The trail heading north from the sign is Finger Rock #42. FR42 eventually intersects with Pima Canyon #62 and continues a good bit further, eventually terminating where it intersects with the Ventana Canyon Trail #98.
From the orientation sign, FR42 is relatively level for about a mile until you reach the Finger Rock Spring, but there is no mistaking the fact that you are entering Finger Rock Canyon with the namesake Finger Rock looming to the north. The cliffs on either side get steeper, and there is virtually no chance that you will lose the well used trail because there is no other place to go. After a couple of wash crossings, and just before the spring, look for the remains of a small former water catchment area on your left under some cottonwoods. If you want to see the spring, leave the FR42 where it starts switchbacking up a much steeper slop and hug the left side of the cliff. Note: there are no cottonwoods above the spring. There is some flow part of the year (during monsoons) but the wash is dry much of the time. On the day of our hike in early August, water was flowing nearly the entire length of the canyon.

Once you start up the right side of the canyon, the climb becomes serious. There is shade for most of the morning on the way up because of the way the ridge is oriented. There are a few shady spots along the way for mid-day and afternoon stops; look particularly for “the cave”, which is a well-loved shady, cool spot about 2 mile in and at 4400 feet elevation for a break. It will be easily recognized, so don’t worry about missing this great rest point (this is also a fantastic viewpoint for pix of Finger Rock).

From here up to the sharp right hand turn, watch for narrow trails and considerable exposure. If you slide off the trail along here, expect the bounce to be considerable. If heights are a problem, this will be difficult for you. Otherwise, just follow the uneven trail and make the sharp right for the last 1000 feet or so to the spur, which is at a very sharp left turn in FR42. Follow the spur a few hundred feet out to the saddle, and you’re there.
This hike can be jazzed up a bit by climbing the little nearby peaks to the southwest. None are more than 120 feet above the saddle elevation. There is no trail, but the way up to each of them will be pretty obvious. Just look for safe scramble spots; nothing is class 4. Check out our August 3, 2017 track (not the official). If you’re concerned about scrambling, don’t do it. When you’re ready to leave, retrace your steps to the trailhead. Heck of a good hike.

Dogs are never permitted on this trail. Also, there are off trail restrictions in this area from Jan 1 to April 30 (lambing season) each year because of the Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project. However, hiking/camping up to 400 feet off what the Forest Service calls a “designated Forest Service trail” is permitted. Bottom line, be aware that there are restrictions, and that you may be at risk if you stray very far from established trails during the lambing season.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2017-08-06 rvcarter
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent of 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    Matt and I left the Finger Rock TH shortly after 7, but the humidity was heavy. I was totally wet within a half mile. I appreciate Matt not running off and heading up the trail, but we made good time anyway. The trail is in the shade for much of the way up to the the sharp turn to the right. From there, it's a pretty easy finish up to the saddle, which is a short spur off the main trail which continues up to intersect Pima Canyon Trail on the way to Mt. Kimball.

    Matt gave me permission to post the Official Track for this hike, which is a great one. Note that my track includes the short scrambles up to the adjoining peaks to the southwest from the saddle. Nice addition to the basic hike, but beware that some class 3 rock scrambling is involved.

    Good water in the wash.

    Great day of hiking.

    Nice chuparosa.
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    Took another trek up with Jim. The weather was warm in the canyon, but perfect in the upper elevations. Saw a few ravens and a couple of hawks, but they weren't talking today. The canyon was overall very quiet this trip. Even the one rattler we saw had nothing to say. Great to be outside. :)
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    It's been just over 3 months since I last did this, my favorite hike. I came back today and it put the hurt on me. When I frequent this one, I seem to maintain my best hiking shape, but ignoring it for a quarter of a year makes me soft and wimpy.

    I met up with Jim this morning and we headed up trail, and though the trip was rather event-less, the weather was quite nice most of the way. There are already quite a few flowers popping throughout the canyon but, as Jim pointed out, there were no birds, no sounds. Maybe the air just wasn't quite right.

    At any rate, I finally got back to Kimball and though I'm a bit tired, the trail was good to me today.

    Thanks for coming down Jim. Till next time.
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    Headed out to pay my respect to both the Finger Rock Trail and Old Man Kimball. It was actually just a bit warm for my long sleeves in 5he first half mile, but was pretty much perfect from then on. As I started up the trail, I immediately noticed semi-transparent splotches of blue, then once I started passing through more sandy areas, I saw pony tracks. Fully confused, I eventually round a corner to find a huge, unattended and horrible smelling, herbicide stock pile just sitting of the side of the trail. I continued on, baffled. I made good time on the way up at 2:58. I hung around top for about a half hour, then started back. It took my an exceptionally long time on the return due to the unusually high number of afternoon hikers that I stopped to chat with, but I had a lot of good conversation, including the resolving of the chemical mystery. It would seem that a private company has been contracted to fight the bufflegrass in the canyon, and had mules pack 5 gallon containers of some chemical that they apparently mix right there on the trail, then leave behind each afternoon. Weird!
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    Quick trip to my favorite place. Had afternoon obligations, so this was the perfect length of time for me today. Weather was perfect. Nobody ahead of me, but passed 2 pairs and 2 singles on they're way to the peak as I headed down. There were tons of people in the lower canyon just puttering around for the most part. Looks like I'm going from 3 days per month, to 2 days per week of hiking :y: :D
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    The original plan was to do Finger to Window Peak, but a late start, the heat and a subsequent water shortage shortened my trip to Kimball. A lot of shade breaks made for slow going, but it was great to get out after 3 weeks. Hope I can get a better start tomorrow.

    3:44 up
    1:59 down
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    I've been disturbed at gaining 7 lb this past month, and decide to put the hurt on my 'food reserves'. This morning I dawned a pack, loaded with my basic outdoor gear, lunch and about 8 quarts of water. The trip up was absolutely agonizing, taking 4:15 less a 25 minute break at the 4 mile mark. I was pretty wiped, so I took a long lunch followed by a short nap at the peak, waking good as new (almost, anyway). I lightened my load by dumping all but a liter of water for the trip home. I watched the clock till 13:30, and GO!!! I ran as much of the trail as I could for my return, arriving at the Exploder at 15:31. I'm back to daily weigh in again. I hope tomorrow's is kind to me.
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    Kimball - Window Peak - Cathedral Trifecta
    Let me start by saying that I fell short of the title, but have listed it as such for comparative. That said, I set out as prepared and confident as I could be; I was well rested, the weather was perfect, I had a full moon to assist in the predawn and evening ends of the hike, I even had a massive water cache 2/3 of the way in. I had it all covered. To put icing on the cake, I hit the TH 5 minutes early instead of my usual 15 minutes late. Topping that by bagging Kimball 1/2 hour ahead of Schedule, I had 35 minutes in reserve. The details of what happened between Kimball and Cathedral are but a haze. I was so focused on the final acquisition that I turned off all that was happening along the way. Imagine my dismay as wandered the base of that massive rock pile, after all those hours, after all those miles, after all that sweat, just to run out the clock without reaching my goal :(

    The return trip had now begun under an aire of defeat. Every mile seemed to last for hours. I crawled into my car at about 8:45 p.m. and reclined the seat, where I napped for about an hour. From there, I took myself home to sleep on the carpet (I didn't even have the energy to shower). My last thoughts as I faded into slumber were of how greatly I had failed. Somewhere in my sleep, that turned around and I awoke this morning feeling a great self-worth. I fell short of my goal today, but had made huge accomplishments, the mountain may have beat me today, but I fought it every inch of the way, and I'll be back.

    Just on the side, maybe someone can enlighten me, but aren't tooooo many cairns just not helpful? I thought that hikers built cairns to help other hikers find their way. Have you ever been to the base of Cathedral Rock? It's like a cairn farm. It's like "guess how many cairns there are per square foot and win a prize". You need a track just to get you around the cairns, or you could use the 'odd-even' cairns as your guide. I have never seen sooo many cairns on every point of the compass... end rant. Goodnight. :D
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    Packed up with water and took a stroll. My primary mission is always to burn the day away hiking. Mission 1 accomplished. My secondary goal was to drop a stash of water near Window Peak to facilitate an upcoming run to Cathedral Rock. Great hike on my favorite trails. I hope my stash is still there Friday.
    Linda Vista Saddle
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    I drug myself out of bed early, so as to be on time at the TH. I had planned to meet JJ for a death march from Finger Rock to the Window. I hiked Rincon Peak yesterday and was feelin a bit beat up, but I don't get to hike enough, so I was on deck. As I sat waiting, I perused my emails and such, discovering that my hike with JJ was not until tomorrow. I know better than to reschedule events during cocktail hour, but indeed I had. Now feeling less than perfect, with a chance to go back home and get some rest for tomorrows event, what do ya think I did? That's right! I hiked up to Mt. Kimball :y:
    With some attached regret, I think I made the right decision. Any hiking in this weather is awesome. I'll deal with the repercussions later. Now I'm ready for tomorrow :)

    Permit $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Finger Rock Trailhead
    To reach the Finger Rock trailhead parking area from anywhere in Tucson, get to Ina road and follow it east until it becomes Skyline. Where Sunrise and Skyline diverge, enter the turn bay and turn left onto the continuation of Skyline. Follow Skyline until you reach north Alvernon and turn left (north). The turn at Alvernon is marked by a sign for the Finger Rock trailhead. Follow Alvernon north for just under a mile and the trailhead parking area will appear on the left (west).

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 112 mi - about 1 hour 49 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 10.2 mi - about 24 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 256 mi - about 3 hours 54 mins
    page created by Mountain_Rat on Aug 06 2017 10:53 am
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