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Blackett's Ridge

Santa Catalina Mountains

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Total Length6.2 miles
Highest Elevation:4410 feet
Lowest Elevation:2600 feet
Elevation Change:1810 feet
Difficulty Rating:C
Best Seasons:Spring Fall Winter
Hiking Time:0 hours
Dogs:Dogs not allowed

This is a classic hike which takes you to the top of the ridge between Sabino Canyon and Bear Canyon. From here there are great views in all directions. Tucson is spread out below you, Mt. Lemmon and the Wilderness of Rocks are visible to the north, and you can peer down into both Sabino and Bear Canyons. Well worth the trip!

Directions to Trailhead

•From the intersection of Tanque Verde and Grant/Kolb Rd head northeast on Tanque Verde. Turn left at the second light on Sabino Canyon Rd. Go about 6 miles up Sabino Canyon Rd. Go straight at the intersection with Sunrise and take the next right into the parking lot of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.

•The Sabino Canyon parking lot can fill up on nice weekends, so get there early. Do not try to park on the side of the road near the entrance; several people have reported getting $100+ tickets for parking by the side of the road near Sabino Canyon.

•Dogs are not allowed in the main canyon area, or on the Bear Canyon or Sabino Canyon trails.

Trail Description

Bear Canyon Trail, FS #29
(Sabino Canyon Visitor's Center to Phoneline Trail)

Length: 0.8 milesHiking Time: 0.2 hours
Highest point: 2700 feetLowest point: 2600 feet
Trail goes uphill

In the parking lot at Sabino Canyon, head to the eastern, or far right hand (as you face the visitor's center) end of the parking lot. This is the end farthest from the entrance. Take the wide dirt track that heads straight east from this point. There is a sign here indicating that this track is the Bear Canyon Trail.

The wide track continues nearly level, and completely straight, for about a half mile. Turn right on the pavement when you hit the road, although it is possible to take a trail that parallels the road to the south. Take this paved road a few hundred yards until you get to restrooms at a road junction. Turn right here, and cross the bridge that is a short distance from the restrooms. At the far side of the bridge there is another road intersection (T shaped). The Phoneline Trail is directly opposite you as you reach this intersection, and there is a sign a short ways up the trail.

If you are continuing to Bear Canyon, you can either turn right on the road at this intersection, or go up the trail a short distance, and turn right on the trail that parallels the road.

Get on the Phoneline Trail here.

Phoneline Trail
(Bear Canyon road to Blackett's Ridge Trail)

A typical view from the Phoneline Trail.

Length: 0.6 milesHiking Time: 0.0 hours
Highest point: 3040 feetLowest point: 2700 feet
Trail goes uphill

From the T-intersection of the road take the footpath that heads uphill and turn left on the footpath when it intersections with another footpath about 50 feet up the hill.

The trail climbs with a medium grade up towards Blackett's Ridge, reaching a point where you can start to see down into Sabino Canyon. The Blackett's Ridge Trail takes off to the right at a signed junction which is easy to miss if you are going fast and not looking carefully. Start looking for it when you get close to Sabino Canyon.

Turn right on the Blackett's Ridge Trail

Blackett's Ridge Trail
(Phoneline Trail to end)

Length: 1.7 milesHiking Time: 0.0 hours
Highest point: 4410 feetLowest point: 3040 feet
Trail goes uphill

Blackett's Ridge is the ridge that divides Sabino and Bear canyons. This trail climbs up this ridge to a point where you can't go any farther because of a steep saddle that blocks the way up the ridge.

The trail begins at the Phoneline trail. Head uphill through saguaros and ocotillo as the trail begins its climb. As the trail goes up the nose of Blackett's ridge it gets steeper and steeper, and is pretty rocky in some places. After a fair bit of work you come to a little flat area to the left of the trail where you can look down on Tucson.

As you climb Blackett's Ridge you will be continually fooled by false summits. It will look like the top is just ahead, but then when you get there you find that the trail keeps climbing. Don't be discouraged; the real top isn't that far.

Once the trail gets on top of the ridgeline it is not so steep. Up here the vegetation is desert grasslands. On the left it is a very long sheer drop into Sabino Canyon, but the trail stays away from the edge.

You will know you have reached the end when there is a big drop ahead of you and you can't go any farther without ropes. This point has great views up towards Mt. Lemmon, down into Sabino and Bear canyons, and back towards Tucson. You really feel like you are floating up in the sky since there are sheer drops on all sides except for the way you came up.

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