Table Mountain is unique in many ways. From the west, east, and north, it boasts an imposing gauntlet of cliffs. From the south, it shows its broad grassy slope gently rising to the summit. This is a climber's mountain and rarely sees traffic from hikers. Although one can easily attain the summit through Pima Canyon and a nasty bushwhack up the long grassy slope, the real attraction are the cliffs, especially on the west side. There are at least five 5-6 pitch Trad climbs here ranging from 5.7 to 5.10d. Several, such as Cherry Jam and Crescent Crack, are considered classics. It is helpful to know that some people believe the climb ratings around Tucson to be a bit sandbagged. This means that the climbs may seem harder than the rating implies. Of course, this could also mean that the rest of the country overrates their climbs. Either way, be aware that these climbs are true Trad climbs and require honed skills, sound decision-making capabilities, and good judgment. They are not to be taken lightly.
Located in the
Coronado National Forest, Table Mountain is in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness
area. This Wilderness Area encompasses nearly 57,000 acres, and rises from 2,800 feet to 8,800 feet. Within this elevation change one can find not only Sonoran Desert
plant life such as Saguaros and Foothills Palo Verde, but also Canadian Zone flora exemplified by Douglas Fir and Quaking Aspen.
Table Mountain itself is topped with Ponderosa Pine. The long grassy slope on the south side is covered in what locals call 'shindaggers' or more properly Agave (Agave schottii
). These nasty plants grow in elevations of 4,000 to 5,000 feet in southeastern Arizona. Although they are a bane to hikers (especially bushwhackers), they can easily be 'avoided' by wearing tough boots and stepping directly onto their centers.
Pusch Ridge from the east. Pusch Peak is on the left and Table Mountain is the peak on the right with the imposing cliffs.
Starting in 1996 the Forest Service issued a closure of the western part of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness for Bighorn Sheep Lambing from January 1st to April 30th. The last reported sighting of a Bighorn Sheep on Pusch Ridge was in 1998. If you are planning on climbing, be sure to call the Coronado National Forest at (520) 388-8300
for current closures and conditions.
Special thanks to Andinistaloco for generously allowing me to use his photos for this page.
There are two ways to access Table Mountain:
1) To access Table Mountain from the west via Catalina State Park
, take the Ina Road exit off of I-10 (just north of Tucson), and head east several miles to Oracle Road. Head north on Oracle Road 6 miles. The Catalina State Park entrance will be on your right. There is a day use fee of $3/car between Memorial Day and Labor Day, $6 per car the rest of the year. If you are staying closer and want to walk or ride a bike, the entrance fees are $2 per person all year. Park at the end of the road, and the trails leave from there.
2. To access Table Mountain from the east via Pima Canyon
, take the Ina Road exit off of I-10 (just north of Tucson), and head east several miles to Oracle Road. Head straight through Oracle Road and in less than a mile you will turn left onto Christie (there is a sign for Pima Canyon). Head north on Christie until you get to Magee Road. Turn right onto Magee and park in the dirt parking lot for the Pima Canyon trailhead.
There is no red tape as Table Mountain is in the
Coronado National Forest.
The one exception could be closures due to potential Bighorn Sheep lambing season January 1st through April 30th. Be sure to call Coronado National Forest at (520) 388-8300
for current closures and conditions.
There is camping at Catalina State Park
. There are 120 sites, 95 have water and electric hookups. There are picnic tables, grills, restrooms, showers, and a dumping station. Fees are $10/night Memorial Day through Labor Day for a non-electric site, and $15/night for electric. The rest of the year is $12-15/night for non-electric, and $19-22/night for electric.
LinksBackcountry Rockclimbing in Southern Arizona
by Bob Kerry has all the climbing routes on Table Mountain as of 1997. This link takes you to a page detailing both Squeezing the Lemmon II
and Bob Kerry's book. Be sure to scroll down. You can buy this book at
Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society