this hike is a 5/5 in every way...one of the absolute best in Tucson. If you've never done it, do it. don't let the elevation gain scare you off. i think that all factors being equal, Wrightson is probably still a little tougher.
This hike kicked our butts. Didn't make it to top of Mt. Kimball, as we reached intersection with Pima Canyon Trail at 12:30, our predetermined turn around time. We didn't notice the steepness (3,900 feet in 4.5 miles, and the first mile is fairly flat)until we started down, and we didn't feel it until the following day.
As of 12/22, there are patches of snow on the uppermost portion of the trail. The hike is 10 miles roundtrip according to the Cowgill guide to the Catalinas, the best one I know of. Lots of climbing for sure, but I believe the grades relent somewhat after Linda Vista Saddle (a nice day hike unto itself). Saw a bobcat and those two of those animals that look like raccoons with the long tails (quasimundi?).
This trail was absolutely incredible. It's a rare thing to begin a hike among saguaros, cholla, and ocotillo, and finish on the top of a pine covered mountain. It was definitely one of the coolest, and most challenging trails that I have done. It got up to 79 degrees in Tuscon that day so when I encountered snow on the upper reaches of the trail it caught me completely off guard.
Lloyd and I walked to Finger Rock spring, then made a concerted effort to forge the 3.0 mile and 3200 foot climb up to Mt. Kimball trail junction, then to the summit of Mt. Kimball. A rocky and difficult trail.
I want credit for an Epic on this one!!!! Oh my gosh, what a day!First of all there is no freakin way this thing was 6.3 miles round trip!!!! There are different stats on this hike in every reference you find!
Jim, Gabriele and I did it in 8 hrs 9 min.and I was pushing as hard as I could push! Gasbriele spent a small portion of the assent in a comatose state!!! My legs felt like warm butter by the tie I got to the end of the trail! JIm wizzed right along like nothin out of the ordinary was happenin' It is rated strenuous but I would have to call it deathly!
The trail was different from any trail I have ever done. The trail was twitsy and rugged.It was incredibly steep and very rocky. Part of it was in dense desert terrain and part of it was in forrest as we had hit the tree line. The rock formations were out standing every where you looked and the old sahuaros were great! The trail maps were vague as to where the trail finished but we did find a good description of the end of the trail in one of the right ups Gabriele had printed out.
Despite the name of the trail finger rock is not actually your destination on this one, but Jim spent the entire time trying to figure out how to get up there! He'll do it some day I know he will. At the end of the trail you get a breathtaking view of Ventana Canyon and Mt Lemmon! Yay! My first close up view of Mt Lemmon! On the way in I believe you could see Mt Wrightson off in the distance behind us.
We were blessed by visits from one snake and one tarantula. And Gariele's son called her to let her know there was a sighting of a mountain lion in the Sabino Mountains and that we should be very careful!! Not sure that we were really in any danger but hey! It makes for a good story right!
Lots of people on this trail, although most do not seem to go all the way to the summit of Mt. Kimball at 5.0 miles and 4100 feet. The only thing I do not like about this trail is the first nearly flat mile to Finger Rock spring. The next four miles are not very steep but there is little respite from the grade. 1:11 to summit.
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.