The Finger Rock Trail starts at the north end of Alvernon Way in the Catalina Foothills north of Tucson. Park at the trailhead and head straight up canyon on the Finger Rock Trail. Hiking to the saddle near Finger Rock, or to the base of the formation itself is a steep and challenging hike. Fast hikers can get to the base in about 3 to 3.5 hours. The second half of the hike is on informal trails that involve loose rock, lots of cacti and some route finding as you get near Finger Rock.
The first mile consists of moderate climbing and rocky terrain until you reach the creek bed at the bottom of Finger Rock Canyon. This drainage frequently runs with water in the winter, but crossing the creek is usually easy. Cross the drainage a couple of times, and look for a sudden turn to the right, where the trail starts a series of switchbacks up the eastern side of the canyon wall. This switchback is usually easy to find, and a log frequently crosses the trail at an informal junction to keep you from continuing upstream along the creek bed. Once you leave the creek bottom, the climb begins in earnest. Over the next 1.5 miles you will climb over 1700 vertical feet up very steep rocky steps and slabs of rock. At about 5300 feet, the trail will rather suddenly flatten out with inviting rocks off to your left and a great view of the upper canyon and Mount Kimball. Here the trail and the canyon turns rather abruptly to the east. Stop here and enjoy a short rest. Your route will leave the main trail here and descend straight downhill to cross the canyon bottom and ascend to an obvious saddle to the north-northwest. From your vantage point at this rest, you will not be able to see Finger Rock. It will lie behind The Guard - which is the blunt formation east of Finger Rock. From your rest point, look for an obvious use trail that drops straight downhill to the stream bed. Stay on this use trail all the way down, and then traverse up and left toward the saddle that lies east of The Guard. There is plenty of loose rock on this ascent, so watch your step. At the saddle, you will find great views to the north. A small fire ring is usually in place here, and two obvious trails leave the saddle to the west. The trail to the left heads uphill toward The Guard, and another to the right, traverses behind (north of) The Guard. Take the right hand trail here. Climb and traverse below The Guard through slabs, gullies and bushes. After a few hundred feet you will reach a major gully that divides The Guard from Finger Rock. Climb very steeply up the gully to reach the base of Finger Rock. Once at the base, stay right, traversing around the base of Finger Rock, aiming for a saddle on the northwest corner of Finger Rock. This saddle provides a spectacular view of Tucson, and a dramatic vantage point to climb Finger Rock.
After the long, steep, loose approach, the climb itself will seem easy. Most climbers do it in two short pitches. The fist pitch ascends a steep short corner to lower angle terrain, and then heads left to a ledge with a couple of small oak trees. Belaying here offers a better view of the upper route - I'd recommend it. From the ledge traverse right on obvious face holds onto a beautiful, featured, and exposed face with one bolt. Clip the bolt and climb up on good holds to a ledge a few feet below the summit. This ledge has two bolts with chains. From here you can bring up your party and climb the last few exciting feet to the summit. The summit itself is small and exposed, but offers some nice flat rocks to stand (or sit) on. It is one of the best summits you'll find anywhere. The exposure and location are well worth the long hike. A 90 foot rappel leads back to the base. A light rack of small-medium cams, and a few slings are all you will need. Most people call the route 5.8 - which is probably generous.