This was my first time hiking the Pontatoc Ridge trail, and I must say that both the view on entering this canyon, and then as you scale up the ridge are truly stunning. The hike is a six mile round trip, but the steep trail leading up the ridge is an unofficial trail that made me nervous in places. Now that’s partly because I currently weigh 270 pounds and it is easier for me to slip on loose rock. But if they would only do some work to improve this part of the trail, it would easily become one of my favorites in Tucson. Here’s the Google Earth video of the hike (GPX file available here):
The top of the ridge (at 2070 feet above the trail head parking lot) offers truly sweeping views of the Catalina mountains, Finger Rock and all of Tucson. Amazing! Counting how many feet you have to climb with all the ups and downs, the hike comes in at 2420 feet. Note that I first went to the end of the official trail, and then backed up to the unofficial trail that leads up the ridge.
And this is Google Earth’s elevation profile. Note the drastic dip at the very summit. This is not real and is caused because Google Earth clamps the GPS data to its terrain map, as it thought I had walked off the edge of the ridge!
These are the panoramas I took. The first one shows how nice the view is early on in the hike, so if you’re not up to climbing all the way up the ridge, you’ll still get some fantastic views. I was particularly struck by the rocks along this part of the trail, as they were unique from what I’ve seen on other trails in Tucson. Some looked more like fossilized wood than regular rocks, and they were strikingly fragmented with cracks.This panorama was taken at the end of the official trail. You can see Finger Rock on the right there.