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Finger Rock Trail #42, AZ

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Guide 138 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson NW
3.8 of 5 by 25
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 5.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,069 feet
Elevation Gain 3,835 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,172 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.7
Interest Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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21  2018-02-17
Mount Kimball via Finger Rock
6  2017-01-25 GeeEss
1  2016-11-26 Pivo
10  2016-09-03
Mount Kimball via Finger Rock
1  2016-08-04 Mountain_Rat
20  2016-05-06
Finger Rock Summit
1  2016-04-22
Mount Kimball via Finger Rock
1  2016-04-04
Mount Kimball via Finger Rock
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,746 map ( 18,187 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb
Seasons   Early Autumn to Early Summer
Sun  6:12am - 6:19pm
Official Route
29 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Finger Rocks
by fricknaley

Finger Rock Trail #42 is one of the most popular trails in the Catalina frontrange/Pusch Ridge. A lot of people go to one of the 2 nice ridges or overlooks that loft high above the Canyon offering nice views of Finger Rock or Prominent Point. A lot of people go to Linda Vista a little farther up for some great views of Tucson. A lot of people (relatively speaking) use Finger Rock Canyon as their access route to climb Mt. Kimball. Very few folks hike the entirety of Finger Rock Trail #42 all the way to it's end near the east head of Ventana Canyon, at the junction with the end of Ventana Canyon and Esperero Canyon Trails. Three of the Pusch Ridge's finest come to rest together in a special place in the absolute middle of nowhere.

A significant part of this trail has been written up at least twice here on HikeArizona...both the Mount Kimball via Finger Rock (by brianb) and the Mt. Kimball - Pima Canyon traverse (by Jeff MacE and yours truly) fully describe the section of trail leading up to the junction with Pima Canyon Trail #62 about 4.3 miles in and 3700+ feet of climbing, so in order not to be redundant I'll be brief on this part.

From the trailhead off Alvernon, cross the street and walk up to the signed trailhead. Almost immediately a junction leads right to Pontatoc Canyon and Ridge. Go left on Finger Rock and head across the desert to the big canyon in front of you. You'll see Finger Rock itself right away on the left/west wall of the canyon. To your right are nice views of Pontatoc Ridge. The trail is really pretty level for the first 1 mile. When it crosses to the east side of the canyon and you encounter a small unmarked trail split you've reached Finger Rock Spring and the end of the flat stuff. Go up and right and get ready to keep going up for the next 3.2 miles. This is Finger Rock Canyon...and it's legendarily steep trail. You will go up mildy and more often madly all the way to the junction with Pima. The trail always stays on the east wall of the canyon for most of the way up, making only one crossing much higher up. Finger Rock is visible most of the way for the first half. A nice spot of note is about 2.55 miles in where you hit a somewhat flat, grassy overlook with exceptional views up and down the canyon. You're almost in profile with Prominent Point, Finger Rock and the Guard here. From this nice rest spot the trail will break hard right/east to cross over a prominent side drainage spilling in from the east. This is usually a pretty lush little spot. Near the head of the drainage, at about 2.9 miles is the short unmarked spur breaking off right to Linda Vista. Stay on the main path and enter pinyon and oak country for the last leg to the trail junction. Finally in a lush little forest you will finally make the one crossing over the creekbed and climb away from the canyon through a manzanita scrubland. The trail gets really steep here again...and then you're at the junction, again about 4.3 miles in or so.

Instead of making the accustomed left and heading to Mt. Kimball, make a right and stay on the Finger Rock Canyon trail. Almost immediately there will be a little campsite off to your left. Walk across it and take a peak through the clearing for one of the most spectacular views of the day - Mt. Lemmon, Cathedral Rock and Window Peak are staring right at you. Hit the trail again and descend away from the saddle separating Kimball to the northwest from big old Peak 7123 to the southeast. The trail is going to descend and run generally north for a while down the east slope of Kimball. The trail will pop in and out of the forest here, when it pops out it opens up jaw-dropping views of the mountains east, then takes you back in the woods to calm down. In general the trail is not too hard to follow, when it's out of the woods and in the open it is generally crossing rocks and is well-cairned to lead the way. In the forest it is a beaten enough path that you can typically follow it. Cairns are there when needed, there are a couple of little drainage crossings that can be tricky the first time. Look for the cairn and do NOT follow the drainages when heading north down the east slope of Kimball. There is one other tricky spot where a big tree went down across the trail, seemingly long ago, and obscures the path. Be patient here and look around, remembering you want to go north, and you'll pick it up again. After about 0.95 miles, the trail will finally cut right and head east towards the head of Ventana Canyon, descending all the while.

Once heading east, the trees will open up occasionally to offer views north over Oro Valley and out towards the Picachos. After about 0.2 miles of heading east it opens up in front of you enough to see the divide at the head of Ventan Canyon. To the right lies Ventana. To the left is one of the major tributaries feeding Montrose Canyon. You can see you gotta drop sharply to hit the divide and that the trail must cut right around the south base of the big rock formation beginning the shelf that leads up to Window Peak. Hit the divide and drop right along the path beneath the base of the big rocks to hit the low point of the section leading away from Pima Canyon trail junction, at about 5977 feet. The next half mile or so is along a very faint path as the Finger Rock trail winds back up and into the drainage coming down from the shelf above where it will ultimately come to rest at the simultaneous end of the Ventana Canyon and Esperero Canyon trails, at a small sign located at about 6205 feet and about 6.2-6.3 miles from the trailhead. From here you either have a long hike back, or you can head down Ventana Canyon to your prearranged shuttle vehicle. Heck you might just as well hit up the Window 1.2 miles and a little over 600 feet above you along the Esperero Trail...I did.

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.

2009-01-25 fricknaley

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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 50 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Weird day on the mountain. I arrived at the TH just after 07:00 to find the parking lot full. Not a big problem as this lot is private property, so 'Creative Parking' is the weekend norm. As I pulled in, I saw a large hiking group just departing, so I drug mt feet until 07:30 in hopes I would avoid trying to pass them. I figured that I would see quite a few people, but by the 2ish mile mark, had only come across a pair of moron, frat boyz, cawing like jungle birds into the canyon (still half in the bag from last night).

    From there, it was peaceful all the way to Kimball, where I came upon a group of about 15 mutes. I barked out a general greeting, bold enough to cover everyone present, but most didn't even flinch. The few who did react, gave strange looks as if I were a Sasquatch in their living room or something.
    Here's a picture I took of them... :scared: :o :( :--: :--: :--: :-s 8-[ :scared: :o :stop:
    Then they gave me that look that a baby gets when it's filling up a diaper for you. I guess I arrived at just the wrong time, as there seemed to be a general panic that nobody's snap-book or insta-face was working because everyone was trying to wifi off the one Verizon customer who had service up there. It was total Millennial-Madness, so I quickly tagged it and split.

    The trip down was much better. I crossed paths with a lot of friendly, trail type people, none of which were suffering smart phone withdrawals. I even stopped to chat with several of them (potential HAZers, some).

    On the way home, I stopped for a Double-Jack w/ Cheese and a pair of Jack's Tacos (they make good insoles :lol: ). I'm kind of thinking that this might be the end of the nice weather, so I'm glad I got out, even if it were on the weekend. :D

    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I recently made my first trek on this hike, and what an awesome hike it was. The hike is a buttkicker -- my Garmin GPS measured an elevation gain of 4,300' in the first 5 miles -- but the views along the way and at the top are awesome.

    It had rained the day before, and there were a lot of low lying clouds in the area -- it was cool to be above the clouds as we gained elevation. The trail had a lot of large smooth rocks on it, and was still wet from the rain the day before. The combination of damp rocks and wet soles of my shoes made the trail a bit slippery, so I wound up going much slower than normal.

    The hike begins at the Richard McKee Finger Rock trailhead, and the Finger Rock trail is followed until it intersects with the Pima Canyon Trail. At the junction, you take a left and in short order you'll be at a spur trail that goes up to the Mt. Kimball peak.

    If you like a challenging hike with awesome views, I'd highly recommend this one. I would not want to do this hike in hot weather though -- wintertime seems about right.
    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I thought I heard the chipmunks calling, so I loaded up with the most tasteless, rubbery, raw, unsalted almonds I could get my hands on, and headed up the trail.

    Thinking I could stand to drop a few pounds, I started out 12 hours fasted and pushed it as hard as I could the whole way up. This was tougher than I thought it might be, as my muscles just didn't want to cooperate with the rest of me. In a nutshell, it just made me lumbering and clumsy. Too, it made me drink about twice the water that I normally would have, so this may not be the best approach to weight control.

    I only saw 2 hikers on the way up and 2 on the way down, all below the 3 mile mark. I could discern only 2 sets of human tracks above Linda Vista since the last rain, several days ago. The upper part of the trail is in pretty rough shape right now, until some people get up there and pound the thing back out. That will happen soon enough.

    So, anyway, I saw some chipmunks. They didn't seem to recognize me anymore, but I remember them, the little nut-munchin, circus critters. They did at least thank me for almonds as I emptied the bag about the area. While at the top, I sat and ate a pig-ear (It's pork loin jerky. It just looks like an ear), then started back.

    The trip back was much like the ascent. I set no records today, but may have lost a pound or 2. I guess I won't know until tomorrow though, cuz I stopped and pigged-out on the way home. My guess is a net gain for today.
    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Pima to Sabino
    Started up Pima Canyon on a Friday night and camped about 4.5 miles up the trail. There was water the entire way up, lots of greenery, and the trail was in the best shape that I'd ever seen it. The views out of the canyon at night were amazing, and the weather was beautifully mild.

    As I headed further up the canyon the next day, the water became spottier. Realizing that my next guaranteed source of water would be Bridal Veil Falls several canyons over, I decided to top off my water here. Carrying the full pack up to the top of Kimball was quite challenging, and I was worried I might have to bail out through Ventana Canyon if Window Peak was too much. After an hour on the summit of just eating and drinking as much as possible, I actually felt great, and the hike up to the Window and Window Peak felt much better than Kimball. The late afternoon weather was perfect yet again, and after using my last bit of cell service to learn that Oregon didn't implode against Stanford ](*,) , I headed down Esperero Canyon to spend the night at the falls.

    MSimmons came up early the next morning, and we easily regained the elevation I lost the night before. We had some bizarre snow/wind/sun on our summit bushwhack, but nothing too ominous. Though we didn't attempt the true summit, I found the rope, and feel good about finding it again with less effort whenever I decide to go back. I started up the formation about 10 feet, was reeeeeeally temped to keep going, but with an old rope, a bit of ice, and worn-out shoes, I didn't want to get too committed.

    The rest of the hike was a bit of a blur, since we were utterly desperate to catch the final shuttle out of the canyon. I hadn't been through the West Fork before, and the upper portions of it are top-notch. The stream crossing after Hutch's pool was really tricky, but if I had time I'd probably just take the boots off and walk through it. Hope to be back in this area again with some more time on my hands...
    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Beat my best time up by 16 minutes arriving in 2:38.
    Though I was 4 minutes over my best down, as a whole, this trip smashed my previous best by 12 minutes.

    Beauty morning to be out on the trail. 58 deg when I started, 56 at the top and 84 when I finished. :y:
    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I had a good run at Pusch Peak this a.m. with plenty of energy left and a competitive taste in my mouth. I would be racing my own, best track up the canyon today and I was bent on winning. I fought the whole way, beating my best up time by about 20 seconds, but the gas ran out in the last 1.5 miles or so :( I came up about 2 minutes behind on the downhill.

    All in all, not bad. My goal for the last several weeks has been to get back to where I was 53 weeks ago, and I think I'm finaly there :)
    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I arrived in the parking lot at 0715 and was :doh:

    Wait here. I'll be right back.

    I arrived in the parking lot at 0805 (this time, with my pack) and hit the trail.

    Here's the deal: Last May, I made my best ever time to Kimball and back. This year, I've been pretty out of shape, so after a few weeks of training, I wanted to check my current condition against my condition a year ago. Last year I made it up in 2:49 and down in 1:42, so those were my goals for today.

    The temps were from the low to mid 70s most of the hike, then up to about 100 at the parking lot at 1300. I got a pretty good steam up and kept truckin.

    I arrived at the peak in 3 hours to the second (11 minutes longer than last year). There were already about 8 people there, so I took about 2-1/2 minutes to plug HAZ to them, then headed out. My time down came in at 1:56 (14 behind last year).

    While not exactly what I'd hoped for, it shows a huge improvement over my condition a mere month ago.
    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I had originally planned to do the Sutherland-Romero loop, but when the alarm went off this morning, that went out the window... Hmmm, Window. Now there's an idea, I thought. I've been wanting to do that one for months now. What I wasn't thinking about while in the morning fog, was that there's no water on a 17 mile / 7,000 ft hike.

    Temps were high as I started. Only around the 73 deg mark, but the sweat came on quickly. I made Kimball at an alright rate (3:27 moving, and a 20 minute break). Took ten at the overlook then headed out.

    By this time, I had drank and sweat out a lot of water and knew that I would not make Window Peak, but had hopes of completing the entire Finger Rock trail. Unfortunately, I came up short, even of that as I vacuumed the last drops out of my Camel. I turned back about a mile short of the Ventana junction with 2 liters to my name.

    As hot as it was with zero shade relief, I was prepared for a slightly thirsty trip down. I was trying to be a little conservative with the water until the lower, hotter section of the canyon, and am glad I did. With about 3 miles left to go, I came upon a guy who had also underestimated his water need vs this slight increase in the temp. He, however went jackpot on fuel just after summiting Kimball. He did not look well, so I gave a half liter and went on. A quarter mile later, I turned back to give him another half(in the form of ice, which is all that I had left). From there, I could do no more than get to my car(where I had post-hydration bottles) and wait a bit to see if he made it out. He did, less than 10 minutes behind me.

    At the end of the day, I fell short of a goal, but for the thirsty stranger, it worked out great, so I'm Good! :)
    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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. :)
    Finger Rock Trail #42
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Last night, the plan was to do Window Peak via Finger Rock. That plan started decaying by 06:00 this morning. By 07:30, I had diminished my plan to Kimball via Finger Rock, getting an 08:00ish start. The phone rang just 1/10 mile short of the cave, and the plug got pulled on my hiking for today. ](*,)

    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 fricknaley on Jan 25 2009 10:03 pm
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