register help

Phone Line Trail #27, AZ

424 127 0
Guide 127 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson N
3.6 of 5 by 24
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 4.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,730 feet
Elevation Gain 600 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.5
Backpack Possible & Connecting
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
19  2018-04-13
Saddleback Ridge to Point 5001
3  2017-06-07 Pivo
16  2017-02-19
Sabino - Bear Loop
11  2017-02-19
Sabino - Bear Loop
8  2017-02-11
Sabino - Bear Loop
10  2017-02-11
Sabino - Bear Loop
5  2016-08-18 GrottoGirl
1  2016-06-18 air
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author fricknaley
author avatar Guides 93
Routes 383
Photos 3,724
Trips 2,743 map ( 18,146 miles )
Age 43 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:08am - 6:27pm
Official Route
19 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
The ringing never ends
by fricknaley

The Phone Line trail in Sabino Canyon is as straightforward as it gets. This trail follows the southern side of the tram road up into and along Sabino Canyon, albeit several hundred feet above it. It's a nice distance on an easy to follow trail with great views up into Sabino Canyon all along the way. This trail is also popular with trail runners as it is fairly level after the initial elevation changes at either end.

To reach the beginning of the Phone Line Trail you start out from the Sabino Canyon Visitors Center following the Bear Canyon Trail, which begins at the eastern corner of the parking lot, to the right of the visitors center. This first section follows a wide dirt track, formally a shuttle road, till it reaches a paved section of road. Turn right on the paved road, and follow it downhill to another intersection, next to a building containing restrooms. Here, you'll turn right again, and follow the road across Sabino Creek and uphill to the last intersection. Straight in front you, the Phone Line trail leaves the road (at a small sign announcing it's departure) and climbs a short distance up to the spine of a ridge where it splits. To the right the Bear Canyon trail heads off toward Seven Falls. To the left, the Phone Line Trail heads gently up the ridge on it's way into Sabino Canyon. Turn left here and formally begin your journey.

Initially the trail gains elevation and heads towards the western flank of Blackett's Ridge. After a little over one-half a mile a sign marks the beginning of the Blackett's Ridge trail to your right. The Phone Line continues onward to skirt th the western edge of the ridge, then eventually curves north, then east around it to start it's northeastern trek into Sabino Canyon.

As you round the bend, great views up into Sabino and the Catalina high country will be your guide the rest of the way. You can also see the tram road climbing up the canyon as well. You are now hundreds of feet above it, you can see little specks (people) cruising along the path. Thimble peak and Blackett's Ridge are up and to your right. As you pass these, new peaks guide you further into the canyon. The going is easy. Multiple large rock outcroppings on your left along the way provide good sites to have lunch. As you finally reach the end of the line, the trail starts switchbacking down. You can see the circular turnaround beneath you for the trams. Switchbacking down, the Phone Line meets up with Sabino Canyon trails (which continue up the canyon). Continue downward to the road. Enjoy nice views, then reclimb and begin your trip back. Alternatively, for those inclined, you could always catch the tram back to the visitor center. If you choose to walk to and from the formal beginning of the Phone Line trail plan on adding about 2 miles to your total trip length, bringing the whole hike to about 11 miles or so.

This is by no means a secluded hike, but it's a nice stroll along the upper walls of Sabino Canyon nonetheless. It's also kind of neat to tower hundreds of feet above the walkers and trams patrolling the roadway. As a side note, this trail is popular in Tucson for runners. If you encounter any, be courteous and give them the right of passage.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2006-01-23 fricknaley
  • guide related image
    guide related
  • sub-region related

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 25 deeper Triplog Reviews
Phone Line Trail #27
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Bought a new annual pass and hit the hiker mall that is the Sabino trail network. Went up Phoneline Trail, admiring the view up Sabino Canyon that is always better than I remember. Dropped down Phoneline link to the Sabino Road, and ruined some family’s photo shoot by the stagnant creek with my lurching yeti stride. Sorry folks! Walked down the road wishing I could ride my bike up or hike the entire thing this afternoon. Finished up around dusk, and headed up into the foothills ‘hood for a family dinner rendezvous. Nice afternoon quickie hike.
Phone Line Trail #27
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
as nice as the weather can get for this one

saw nobody on the entire bear canyon trail, except a rattler that buzzed me and scared the pumpkin out of me :lol:

just a couple of people the rest of the way. felt great on the whole ascent to bear saddle. the last 5 miles or so were more on the painful side. beat my last time by 15 minutes.
Phone Line Trail #27
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Most of the hike was in light rain. Up Bear Canyon and down Sabino. My first time on #23, boy howdy does it sing! Steep and narrow up top. With the creek roaring below like a river reminded me of Vivian Creek Trail out of San Gorgonio California. I'm not sure if it was the sun making a bold appearance for the first time in days or the angels singing in the background but #27 seemed pretty cool to me. It rides high with commanding views out over Tucson and down to the bustling tram.
Phone Line Trail #27
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Having recently moved to Arizona, this is my first hike in this state. It was an excellent day for a hike and I was excited to try out this new activity. I started at the parking lot and walked to the trailhead. The initial elevation gain was tough and concerned me as to the overall difficulty of the hike. Once the trail leveled out, the hike was very pleasant and enjoyable. There were some people on the trail, but overall it was not crowded, and everyone was very friendly. Having moved here from the Midwest, I was overly vigilant about snakes and Africanized honey bees. I think this detracted from the hike a little as any section where I heard a sustained buzzing I made sure to scurry through quickly. Hopefully, after I get more hikes under my belt I will be able to become more acclimated to the possible dangerous wildlife and not have to worry as much. The trail provided some excellent views of the canyon. At the end of the trail, I picked up the tram path and walked that back to the parking lot. Overall, an excellent first hike and a great welcome to Tucson.
Phone Line Trail #27
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
I did the Seven Falls hike and Sabino Canyon tram ride quite a few times as a kid, but hadn't been back in forever. This looked like a good reintroduction to both. The original plan was Bear to Sabino, but't happen...

The Phoneline Trail was entirely shaded and a nice warm-up. We had lofty views all the way to the East Fork Trail, with pretty minimal effort compared to other canyons in the Catalinas. Surprisingly, the East Fork was where we did most of our gain for the day - this section must be amazing on the northbound Arizona Trail. Sycamore Reservoir was a nice little detour; I'm curious what it looks like during other seasons.

Thimble Peak, our second detour, was well worth the steep/scrubby little hike to get there. Getting introduced to class 4 climbing sounds fun, but I figured that with >14 miles in my feet, it would best be saved for another time. At the base, we still had views worthy of inclusion with Spud Rock, Kimball and Wrightson.

I was a zombie most of the way down Bear Canyon, but there was water everywhere, some deer, and of course, the falls. The sun in our eyes led to some embarrassing route-finding issues, but as the sun went down it was quite pleasant. I wasn't really in the mood for 1.5 more miles once we got back to the TH, but we survived and saw another deer on the way.

Note to self: bring a filter on future hikes of this size

PS- my first GPS route! Hopefully the triplog/route automatic link works ok. You still have to enter mileage/AEG/time manually, right?
Phone Line Trail #27
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Friends from back east were in town and we went down to Tucson to hang out with their snowbird parents for the weekend. Between drinking, eating, and football, we decided to do the most touristy hike we could find. I'd ridden the tram once before some years ago, but never previously hiked in Sabino Canyon. A little dreary as far as the riparian scenery goes at this time of year, but great weather and light since we waited until 3:30 to get started. The late start even resulted in only a couple of other people on the trail! :y:
Phone Line Trail #27
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Our first trip to Sabino Canyon.
We took the tram up to the end of the road,
then hiked back down along the Phone Line Trail.
Very scenic canyon, very enjoyable trail!
We agreed that a return trip will be made in the future for more.
Great afternoon of hiking and a real nice ending to our 3 day trip!
Phone Line Trail #27
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
ran the loop with jen early this morning. really nice morning. upper bear canyon and east fork are pretty overgrown right now. the last hot, exposed 2 miles were pretty painful for this 'ol bird :sweat:

the elevation on my track seems too high, i'm going with The Dude's numbers
Phone Line Trail #27
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Late start...well, I turned my 5 AM alarm off at 4 because it rained and thundered at my house. When I woke up at 6:45, it was clear as a bell. Left the visitor center at 7:57. It was already 88 degrees. Nonetheless, I trudged on, stopping here and there to observe the hedgehogs blooming, a diamondback looking for shade, and a roadrunner trying to hide from me. I only met a half dozen other hikers on the trail this morning.

Now for that 3 egg breakfast.
Phone Line Trail #27
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
A 6:44 AM start after a breakfast of yogurt, strawberries, and a bagel. The parking lot is 7/8 full on a cloudy, 86 degree morning. I've packed a rain shell, but now I can see it's not going to be needed. A dozen noisy teenagers fly past me running towards Seven Falls on the Bear Canyon Trail just out of the visitor center. No water in the lower creek as I hit the bottom of Phone Line.

Going up Phone Line, I meet about a two dozen hikers/trail runners over the two & 1/4 hours it takes me to reach the junction with the Sabino Canyon Trail. Coming up behind me about half dozen trail runners over the same time period. There's a slight breeze, making for a comfortable hike up under the overcast skies. I am truly amazed by home many of those I met on the way had no water.

I am absolutely famished by the time I get back to the visitor center. A stop at Brewd for a turkey bacon & egg white panini, mocha latte, and mocha chip scone brings joy to my weary, but satisfied soul.

Permit $$
Visit this link for full details.

There are four specific day use areas that require a Coronado Recreational Pass or a National Pass/America the Beautiful Pass.
1) Sabino Canyon - located on the Santa Catalina Ranger District (520)749-8700
2) Madera Canyon - located on the Nogales Ranger District (520)281-2296
3) Cave Creek - located on the Douglas Ranger District (520)364-3468
4) Mt. Lemmon at 11 day use sites.

Catalina State Park $6 per day. Sabino Canyon Tram is $10 extra.

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 Sabino Canyon Recreation Trailhead
From the intersection of Tanque Verde and Grant/Kolb Rd head northeast on Tanque Verde. Turn left at the second light on Sabino Canyon Rd. Go about 8 miles up Sabino Canyon Rd and you come to a four way stop with Sunrise. Go straight through the intersection and take the next right into the parking lot of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Signs marking the way start on North Kolb road.

This is the universal directions to Sabino Canyon Recreation Center. Hikes take off from all directions and some you might need to hike another trail to get to the start of your hike. Reference the hike summary for details.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 117 mi - about 1 hour 57 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 14.1 mi - about 30 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 261 mi - about 4 hours 1 min
$17 3L Hydration Bladder
help comment issue

end of page marker