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Blackett’s Ridge Hiking Guide

Blackett's Ridge Trail

Overview

This hike takes you to the top of Blackett’s Ridge, a prominent ridgeline that sits between two major drainages: Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon.

From either Sabino Canyon Visitor Center or Bear Canyon Trailhead, you must make the 1,700 foot ascent to reach the end of Blackett’s Ridge Trail. This highpoint is labelled “Saddleback” on most maps.

From here, your hard efforts are rewarded by 360 degree views of Tucson and its surrounding mountains. You’ll get to see Thimble Peak, Mount Lemmon, and Cathedral Rock up close, along with more distant views of the Rincon, Santa Rita, and Tucson Mountains.

Sabino Canyon from Blackett's Ridge
Sabino Canyon from Blackett’s Ridge. April 2019

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 6 miles out and back
  • Hike Time: 4 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,700 feet
  • Fee: No
  • Dogs: No
  • Difficulty: Hard

Description

From Sabino Canyon

From the parking lot, walk eastward until you reach the start of Bear Canyon Loop. This is the trail you use to get to Seven Falls. However, instead of continuing after crossing Sabino Creek, bear left onto Phoneline Trail. This is where the trail begins going uphill, but you ain’t seen nothing yet!

After a 1/2 mile, bear right onto Blackett’s Ridge Trail. This is where the real climbing begins. Over the next 11/2 miles, you’ll gain around 1,500 feet. The trail is steep but its strenuous switchbacks are punctuated by beautiful views of the valley.

The mouth of Sabino Canyon from the junction with Blackett's Ridge Trail
The mouth of Sabino Canyon from the start of Blackett’s Ridge Trail. March 2018

You’ll know you’ve reached the top when you see a sign that reads “END OF THE BLACKETT’S RIDGE TRAIL”. Take a break, you’ve earned it! Sit back, relax, eat a snack, and enjoy the awesome perspective from high above Tucson.

The end of the Blackett's Ridge Trail
Seeing this sign will feel like an accomplishment, even if you’re in shape. April 2019

From Bear Canyon

From the dirt parking lot, walk north onto the unmistakable trail. After 1/4 mile you’ll reach a crossing. This is Bear Creek and its water flow is highly variable. Proceed with caution.

A 1/2 mile after the crossing, you’ll reach a paved access road. If you prefer to walk on pavement, bear left here. Otherwise, walk across to the other side and you’ll reach a junction with Bear Canyon Trail. Bear left here and continue 1/2 mile, then bear right onto Phoneline Trail. From this point, the route is the same as the one described above for Sabino Canyon.

The Bear Creek crossing with low water
The Bear Creek crossing with low water. Sep 2017

Location

From Tucson, drive east on Speedway Boulevard then turn left onto Sabino Canyon Road. After 2.9 miles, turn right to continue on Sabino Canyon Road (going straight puts you on Kolb Road). Continue 2.4 miles, then turn right onto Pantano Road. Pay your fee at the kiosk then park in the lot.

Get Directions

Map

Photos

An ocotillo bloom along the trail. April 2019
Brittlebush flowers along the Blackett's Ridge Trail
Brittlebush flowers along the trail. April 2019
Views of the Rincon Mountains from the switchbacks. April 2019
An agave sending up its giant stock
An agave sending up its giant stock. April 2019

 

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