Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Finger Rock trail to Mt. Kimball - A killer workout!

3-21-2010 - Finger Rock Trail to Mt. Kimball

I don't know why I continue to underestimate the difficulty of some of the hikes around the Tucson area.  We had planned all week for an all day hike on Saturday, so I chose the Finger Rock trail.  I had hiked this area before but never hiked the whole thing.  Mostly it was quick mile runs up and down the trail before work so this will be the first attempt to summit Mt. Kimball.

We got to the trail head near Skyline and Campbell at about 9am.  I figured we were a bit late as the parking lot was already pretty full but there was still room for us.  The trail starts up into the canyon running along a very nice soothing stream.  It was running pretty well this trip which I assume is from all the snow melt from the previous few weeks of snow.  The trail starts pretty easy for a about a mile as it winds its way along the creek.  Enjoy it while you can as you are about to gain over 4000 feet in elevation in the next 5 miles!

Once you start ascending up into the canyon you begin to realize what you have got yourself into.  The trail climbs relentlessly for the next 4 miles.  Switch back after switch back will gradually take you up and away from the saguaro's and cacti into grassy areas and mesquite and eventually into a pine dominated forest at the top. It is quite an amazing transformation in such a short distance.  About half way through the trip there is a side trail that goes off to the right towards Linda Vista.  We didn't have the energy for the extra distance but it looked like there would be a nice view into Tucson towards the South and West.

From here the trail isn't as miserably difficult for a few minutes.  You gradually climb around through the canyon and eventually back out to the north.  There are some amazing views of the mountains and flat walls in this area.  The faces get colorful with green moss covering some of the sides.  After about 15-30 minutes you start to head back up towards the top of the canyon pretty steeply.  The vegetation changes so quickly here and you eventually find yourself in a forest.  Your last stop comes as you get to the ridgeline with Finger Rock trail heading off into the catalinas and Pima Canyon trail heading north towards the summit of Mt Kimball.  The rest of the trail is about a half mile long and not too difficult.  Our GPS showed 7255 feet at the summit of the mountain.

You'll hit one more fork in the trail, stay to right to get to the summit.    The very top is pretty much covered in forest but just continue towards the end of the trail.  At the end there are some amazing views back towards town and over towards Mt. Lemmon.


Coming back down, at least for us, was rough.  Especially the last 3 miles the trail seems like it is never going to end.  I kept glancing towards Finger Rock waiting patiently for us to get past it!  It took forever!  My legs were just done and the trail kept going.  It took us (moving slooowwww) about 8.5 hours to complete the hike.  3 days later and my legs are still sore!  If you hit this trail in the summer make sure to bring a lot of water as the lower elevation sections of Finger Rock trail will be very hot.

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