Day hike up the Phone Line Trail above Sabino Canyon near Tucson

1:32 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Yesterday I took the bus out to the northeast edge of Tucson, then biked to Sabino Canyon and hiked up the Phone Line Trail. It starts near the mouth of Sabino Creek. It goes 4.7 miles to the head of the canyon then meets a trail and I turned there and went down the main Canyon of Sabino.


Beginning of the hike on the Sabino Canyon Road. Its used by tourist shuttles and walkers and goes 3.4 miles to the head of Sabino Canyon.


Rattlesnake peak (center) and Cathedral Rock on its right above a Sonoran Desert landscape off the to NW of Sabino Canyon road.


This Saguaro might be female?


After about a 1/2 miles the road starts to drop into Sabino Canyon.


A dead Saguaro stands in the mouth of Sabino Canyon.


A Ocotillo plant gets green leaves when the water supply is just right, it can bloom with new leaves at anytime of the year.


Lower Sabino Creek surrounded by Sycamore,Willow and Cottonwood tree's waiting for spring. Bear Canyon in distance.


Sabino Dam at the mouth of the canyon controls flooding. Built in the 40's it has backed up with silt.


A multi-armed Giant Saguaro and a old road share the landscape at Sabino's mouth.


Downstream from Sabino Dam. The gold color of the water is from sap in the desert plants.


Trailhead marker for the Phone Line trail and others. The sign tells of the seasonal flood's that come through around the Monsoon's and high snow melt times.


One final view of Sabino Dam at the edge of the Phone Line Trail. The building on the left hill top is a pump station that supplies water to the public toilets and water fountains along the Sabino Road.



A pair of Mallard ducks along lower Sabino Creek.


Starting in the morning shade the Phone Line trail heads through the desert forest. Looks like water is present from a spring dampening the trail center.


A Century Plant (Agave) stands where it bloomed recently along the Phone Line Trail. These Agave's once were thought to take 100 years to grow and bloom  Actually they take about 20 years to grow from seed to spiny leafed plant and then when the water is just right the tall stalk can grow in a few days and spread the flower tipped blooms. Once it goes to seed, like many flowers it dies. The stalk makes an excellent hiking staff as its super light weight.


A double trunked Saguaro stands on the edge of the trail overlooking the Tucson foot hills to the southwest.


Looking down into lower Sabino Canyon with Rattlesnake creek/wash coming in at center and the city of Tucson and the a mountain range by the same name.


Thimble Peak comes into view.


Thimble Peak and the upper reaches of Sabino Canyo leading up to Mt Lemmon and the Catalina Mountain Range.


Hikers decend the trail heading back towards Tucson.


A huge vertical drainage drops from Rattlesnake Peak down into Sabino Canyon at Anderson Dam.


Another Giant Saguaro above the look back on Sabino Canyon.


A spur trail from middle Sabino Canyon comes up a rocky pointed ridge.


The spur trail descends a lower ridge.


The end of the Sabino Canyon shuttle road.


Wild Poppies are everywhere along the sunny stretches of the trail.


The flower pollenator sticks its face into the Poppy and takes food home to its young and makes honey.


Anderson Dam is a natural granite and quartz shelf that stretches across Sabino Canyon Creek.




Different views of Thimble Peak from Sabino Canyon.


Another un-named granite dam spans the creek.


Road sign warns bicyclists of the bridges that are along Sabino Creek. Cyclist's are only allowed before 9 am and after 5 pm year round. The tourist shuttle runs daily after 9 am and until 5 pm. The climb up the road is a good challenge and the descent a thrilling coast, but the road is also covered with walking hikers and the bridges are at right angles to the road.

The day was one of the years first 90 degree days. This weekend and the beginning of this week are supposed to be in the high 80's to low 90's. Its getting HOT!

Soon I will be cycling my way to the north western part of New mexico and Arizona/Utah for work this spring to fall.

Yesterday I rode the bus to within 4 miles of Sabino Canyon then rode to it and after walking about 8 miles returned to my home with a 20 mile ride.

5:15 a.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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Great photos of the canyon. Wow, in the 90s already..I'm still waiting for it to warm up above the low 50s here.

10:05 a.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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Very nice place.

3:40 p.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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Good stuff Gary....but no pictures of the phone lines?


just kiddin' ; i've seen way too many of those in my life (I worked as field tech in business telecom for 7 years)

11:51 a.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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It used to have telephone lines in the 80's I guess they took them down. The Sabino Canyon road that is in the bottom of the canyon was originally built to be the Mt Lemmon highway during the 1930s. But construction ended after the depression ended so it was never finished there. The Telephone lines used to go up the trails edge. A few of the poles are still in place. There used to be more with the old lines and the old green insulators.

6:38 p.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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I really enjoyed all the pics of Sabino Canyon and the Phoneline Trail.  I grew up in Tucson, lived there for 50 years, and did the main road-Phoneline loop many times and it never failed to impress me, especially when the stream was flowing well and the wildflowers below Blackett's Ridge were in bloom.

Thanks for posting!

9:15 a.m. on March 7, 2013 (EST)
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Guess you probably hikes Blacketts Ridge too? I want to go up the hidden canyon between Bear and Blacketts ridge some weekend.


This image shows Rattlesnake Canyon at the top left, Sabino in the middle with Blacketts Ridge, then Bear Canyon to the lower right. The route I want to do next is to the left of the red line.


The hidden Canyon as I call it has no name on the topo's. It runs from near the center of this amp and goes up to a point right below the end of Blacketts Ridge. I would start at below center here where the triangled old road bed leads to the TH of Bear Canyon


Here you can see where the lower canyon to the Hidden one top left comes down to the Bear Canyon Rd. There seems to be a small white area where the main hidden canyon collects before the drop to Bear.

This view shows the upper part of hidden canyon from where it starts below the Blacketts Ridge trail. Looks like there could be a way to go up to the trail from the cliff left of the head of the canyon to the saddle.

This shows the main section of hidden canyon.

I have also hiked the southeast ridge above Bear Canyon passing the Elephants Trunk Arch all the way to just across and above 7 Falls below. I there is a trip report back in the earlier posts showing this hike I did last year in the spring of 2012.

7:45 a.m. on March 8, 2013 (EST)
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On my trips up Blackett's Ridge, I would often eye that canyon and the ridge you're speaking of.  I look forward to your trip report on this when you've completed it, especially if you successfully ascend the last part of the hike up to the BR trail.

1:30 p.m. on March 8, 2013 (EST)
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I first thought about it when I could see parts of it from the SE ridge area I hiked above Bear Canyon. Its looking and supposed to rain the weekend. I may try to do it this weekend tho. 

I may do the hike up to the Blackett's Ridge but go back down and then up onto the eastern ridge's between the hidden canyon and Bear Creek.

But I will certainly have a trip report up with pictures about it after I do it.

1:27 p.m. on May 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Can you link me to this? :"I there is a trip report back in the earlier posts showing this hike I did last year in the spring of 2012." Thanks!

June 18, 2019
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