ElevationAscent: 1,084' 330 m
Descent: -1,084' -330 m
High: 3,769' 1,149 m
Low: 2,803' 854 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 56% (29°)
Current trail conditions
Popular hikes nearby
Easy Rolling 6
5.5 mi 8.9 km • Point to Point • 628 ft Ascent 191.44 m Ascent
Singletrack Fountain Hills, AZ( 6 )
Tom's Thumb from Gateway
12.6 mi 20.2 km • Loop • 2,591 ft Ascent 789.85 m Ascent
Singletrack Fountain Hills, AZ( 5 )
10.5 mi 16.9 km • Loop • 500 ft Ascent 152.51 m Ascent
Singletrack Carefree, AZ( 4 )
Sunrise to Andrews Kinsey Out-and-Back
9.1 mi 14.6 km • Out and Back • 1,476 ft Ascent 449.81 m Ascent
Singletrack Fountain Hills, AZ( 7 )
Maricopa Trail - Pass Mountain Connector
9.4 mi 15.1 km • Point to Point • 538 ft Ascent 163.95 m Ascent
Singletrack Mesa, AZ( 1 )
Hiked this trail?
Add details to help others plan their adventure.
“A stiff climb on desert singletrack leading to fantastic views of Tom's Thumb and the surrounding area.”— Hunter R
For the first portion of the trail, enjoy relatively mellow grades and a manicured surface as you meander through abundant varieties of scrubby desert flora with ancient saguaros towering above and spiny, yellow-tinted cholla hiding below.
After about a half-mile, the trail increases in grade dramatically as it gains the ridgeline in haste. At this point, be sure to take frequent breaks and drink water, as forgetting to do so will leave you "seeing stars" as a result of dehydration. Plus, you might as well enjoy the scenic views of the McDowells and the surrounding area, as they will only build your excitement for the climactic viewpoint atop Tom's Thumb.
Even though your heart and legs may be talking back at you at this point, keep your wits about you as best you can, as the combination of blind, switchbacking corners and the occasional mountain biker whizzing downhill at high speed can spell disaster if you are not alert. If in doubt, keep your ears attuned to the high-pitched whirring sound of a biker's rear wheel to preemptively alert you to an oncoming cyclist.
Once you have finally gained the ridge, the trail becomes much easier, continuing on a smooth tread as it contours the hillside. Turn right at the first junction you encounter, following the Tom's Thumb Trail as it weaves through large granitic boulders to a second junction that can be easy to miss if you are hiking with gusto. Look for a small sign marking a right turn onto a small path. Follow the path as it navigates large boulders on its way to the summit of Tom's Thumb. If you haven't taken pictures already, the large boulders along this section make great backdrops for portraits of your friends or family.
After passing the boulders, you'll come to the mid-point and climax of the hike: Tom's Thumb. Named after a prolific and loved local rock climber, Tom Kreuser, Tom's Thumb houses some of the most excellent traditional-style climbing in the Valley of the Sun. As a result, don't be surprised to hear the jingling sound of metal protection dangling from climber's harnesses as they move on the rocks above.
From the thumb, find your way onto a boulder, break out a snack and some water, and enjoy the fantastic panoramic views of the mountains and valleys before you. Luckily, the views from Tom's Thumb are to the east, showcasing a relatively untouched piece of the Phoenix area and providing viewers with a stronger sense of seclusion compared to what you can find on other local trails.
After enjoying yourself at the summit, simply retrace your steps back to the main trail and down to your car.
Land Manager: City of Scottsdale