Hike on Finger Rock Canyon Trail
To get to Finger Rock Canyon Trailhead you drive up to East Skyline Drive to North alvernon Way north until it deadends at the Trailhead parking lot. If you're coming from the west, take Ina road, which becomes East Skyline until it slits off with Sunrise. Take Skyline, which is a left turn off Skyline/Sunrise. If you're coming from the north, drive south on Oracle road, or I-10 until it intersects with Ina road. Turn east on Ina road, which turns into Skyline drive. At a short distance east of North Campbell Avenue, East Skyline Drive and East Sunrise Drive split off, and take Skyline. If you're coming from the south, drive up North Swan Road to East Skyline and turn west on Skyline. If you're coming from the East, drive up East Sunrise Drive until you reach Swan and turn north on Swan. Drive until you reach Skyline and turn west on Skyline.
It was a beautiful day when we hiked on this trail. The temperature was in the mid 70's and with a light breeze blowing and it was a beautiful partly cloudy day. The whole trail gains over four thousand feet, and is one of the most difficult trails on the santa Catalina Mountains. With AEG of slightly over 4,000 feet there is only a few other trails with more AEG. The length is about five miles, and you need to stop and rest along the way on this one with all the scrambling over rocks, and steep trail sections. I didn't complete the trail, because I started too late in the morning, and after walking about 4.0 miles, I ran into a section of slickrock that sloped down about like a roof on a house to a cliff. At that point I was about 2,500 feet up in elevation and a little tired, although I still had the energy to go to the top if I had about a half hour to rest. But when I saw that 50 foot section of slickrock, I decided that I wasn't going forward up that section, so slightly disappointed, I turned around and hiked back down the mountain. Although I was disappointed I did achieve my goal of getting good exercise, plenty of fresh air and lots of good pictures of the canyon.
The trail is very rocky and steep, with some sections of dirt and sand part of the way. The scenery in the first mile or so is "high desert" and rocky, and the next 3.5 miles are hiking on the side of a canyon.
I took sandwiches when I went on the hike. I ate half of a sandwich early in the hike to raise our blood sugar without having to exercise on a full stomach, and then I ate the other half after I turned around on the mountain to head back down. If you take this hike, don't forget to bring plenty of water, because the high desert is dry and you'll need at least 3 liters of water, and possibly more per person.
Almost all the way up the canyon you can see clear down the canyon, except for short sections when the trail turns toward the ridge before heading higher up the mountain. I'm looking forward to the next time when I attempt this trail to finish it. I'll be sure and start up the mountain before 11AM. I recommend starting up this mountain trail no later than 8AM. Actually, 7AM would be better, because once you get up to the ridge trail that connects the trail tops together, there's quite a bit to see. It's not a good plan to go down this trail after dark. You need the daylight to see where you're going to be safe. In my humble opinion, this would be a good trail to take up a sleeping bag with you and camp out up on top of the mountain. Remember that it's about 15 degrees cooler on top than it is at the base of the mountain. In the winter when it gets down to the low 40's, that can be important. Plus, there isn't any water up on top, so take a liter or two extra for the next day. Otherwise, you can hike over west to Pima spring or go east to the west fork Sabino canyon, on the North end of Cathedral rock trail, where you should find water in the winter, and possibly other times of the year. Remember to use a good charcoal filter, and possibly use tablets to purify the water, which has microbes that you don't want to drink.
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Last Update: January 7, 2015
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