This is a great, on-trail hike to the summit of a rugged desert peak in the Tucson metro area. The trail gets rocky at times, but it is well-marked and the switchbacks take some of the suffering out of the uphill tugs. The lower reaches feature close-ups of Sonoran Desert flora, and the upper reaches treat the visitor to jaw-dropping views. Hike this one when the poppies are blooming for an extraordinary visit.
Roundtrip Distance: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,900 feet
YDS Class: 1+ (rocky steps along the trail)
Per Friends of Sabino Canyon:
From the intersection of Kolb Road and Tanque Verde Road, turn right on Tanque Verde and travel less than a mile to the intersection with Sabino Canyon Road. Turn left onto Sabino Canyon Road and travel north 4.5 miles. The park entrance will be on your right, just after the intersection with Sunrise.
The Sabino Canyon parking lot can fill up on nice weekends, so get there early or park on the side of the road near the entrance.
The earliest parts of this trail across the flatlands are the most confusing sections of route-finding. A maze of service roads and footpaths radiating from the visitors center can cause confusion, but just keep heading east toward UN 4409…you’ll get there.
• From your vehicle, head to the east end of the parking lot, through the visitors area to the far back right of the facilities. You may see a large brown sign pointing toward “Hiking Trails” in general, and the Phoneline Trail, specifically.
• Follow a broad dirt path eastward away from the visitors center for roughly ½ mile.
• Follow this broad dirt path across mostly level terrain to a paved road and continue eastward on the paved road. Fork right, and follow the paved road down to Sabino Creek, where the road crosses the creek via a bridge. Note a bathroom to your left.
• Cross Sabino Creek and keep your eyes peeled for a small sign to the Phoneline Trail #27.
• The trail turns sharply north to begin a gentle ascent toward the base of Blacketts Ridge.
• Continue on this trail for roughly ½ mile to a trail junction. Head right on Blacketts Ridge Trail #48.
• The trail climbs steeply through sometimes rocky, steppy terrain until it gains the ridge where the slope relents.
• Continue over a few false summits along the broad ridge, enjoying stunning desert mountain views, until the trail ends abruptly.
• A short clamber up a light-colored stone outcrop puts you on the summit of UN 4409!
In addition to standard hiking gear appropriate to the season, the following are recommended when summitting this peak:
• A lot of water (more than you think you’ll need). There are no water sources at the trailhead or along the route.
• Sun-protective clothing, particularly long-sleeves and a brimmed hat, and sunscreen.
• Salty snacks
• Comfortable shoes that protect your feet from the rocky terrain and prickly plants.