Hike | Blackett's Ridge | Tucson
Part of the Coronado National Forest, this hike is a must when you are in the area! Although in the popular Sabino Canyon, Blackett’s Ridge is great for its low foot traffic. The middle of the trail gains high elevation in a short distance, but the effort is definitely worth the stunning views throughout the hike and at the top, where you can see the valley of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Sabino Canyon, Bear Canyon, and Thimble Peak. This trail has very limited shade, so best times to go are early morning (starting before 8 AM is recommended) or before sunset. Duration is about 2.5-3 hours for moderately fast speed.
- Length: 6 miles
- Trail Type: Out and back
- Elevation Gain/Loss: +1685 ft (Empire State Building is 1250 ft!)
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Kid Friendly: No
- Dog Friendly: Sadly no
- Accessibility: Park at the Sabino Canyon Parking Lot
- Fee/Permit: $5 to enter the park or free with Interexchange National Park Pass
Starting from the Sabino Canyon parking lot, head over to the Bear Canyon trailhead to the right of the Visitor’s center. The trail starts out easy and flat and will intersect with the tram road –turn right to continue towards the Phoneline Trail. Once the small bathroom comes into view, turn right and cross the small bridge to continue on the Phoneline Trail because it actually forks off to the right to Blackett’s Ridge about 0.6 miles in! At this point, the trail starts to ascend and will continue to do so for the last 1.7 miles, which earns its “difficult” rating. In the middle, there are several switchbacks (close to twenty). Also, there are a few pseudo peaks on the way where they seem like the summit, but are not. Keep pushing forward to the summit, because the trek is worth it!
A metal sign that states “End of the Blackett’s Ridge Trail,” as seen in the picture, marks the true summit. At the top, refuel yourself with snacks and water while you enjoy the incredible panoramic views and your hard work. The downhill return is much easier as expected.
Throughout the trail, beautiful views of the Phoneline Trail, Santa Catalina Mountains, both Bear and Sabino Canyons, and Tucson can be seen. During the Spring and Summer time, cacti and ocotillos are in full bloom, which add to the beauty. Also, wildlife can be seen such as blue and green lizards, squirrels, and birds. So check your footing but also look up and enjoy the nature around you!
Starting from the Sabino Canyon parking lot, head over to the Bear Canyon trailhead to the right of the Visitor’s center. The trail starts out easy and flat and will intersect with the tram road –turn right to continue towards the Phoneline Trail. Once the small bathroom comes into view, turn right and cross the small bridge to continue on the Phoneline Trail because it actually forks off to the right to Blackett’s Ridge about 0.6 miles in!
- Wear hiking boots or trail shoes if you have them due to the rocky nature of the trail
- Bring and drink enough water throughout the hike – 1-2 Liters will be adequate.
- Bring snacks for the top, such as nuts, fruit, bars, and salty snacks like pretzels or popcorn. Remember that even though fruit peels are compostable, they take 10+ years to decompose and should not be eaten by the wildlife. Peels, seeds, and fruit cores should be packed out with the rest of your trash!
- Wear a sunscreen (maybe bring extra to reapply at the top), a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun
- Enjoy the trail! Watch your footing, but make sure to look up from time to time to drink in the beautiful scenery of the Catalina mountains, wildlife, and panoramic views of Tucson!
This blog was thoughtfully written by Annie Nguyen. You can find her on Instagram at @_annien.
* Please remember to hike at your own risk. To learn more please refer to our Hiking Disclaimer.