Finish this loop and declare "I'm a true hiker now!" This route climbs to the key feature of the middle McDowells.
From the Gateway trailhead, head across the bridge and up the sidewalk to the start of the trail. After about 1/2 mile, the trail splits for the Gateway Loop Trail
. Take a left and head north around the loop clockwise. The trail wraps around a little hill and then starts up the first small climb after about another 1/2 mile.
After a couple of minor climbs, the Gateway Loop Trail
will roll for a couple miles and then meet the start of the Windgate Pass Trail
at about mile 2. Head up the Windgate Pass Trail
over a couple minor climbs and rollers past the Horseshoe Trail
until you meet up with the Tom Thumb Trail intersection at about mile #3. Take a left and start down a lazy downhill rumble around the valley and then start back uphill just after the stream crossing.
There are a couple mines off to the right that look dangerous and smell funny...just sayin'.
From the stream crossing, you've got about a mile and a half of steady climbing on switchbacks and smooth trail. This is the toughest part of the climb and the elevation pours on. Breath hard and it'll be over soon.
At the top of the climb, Tom Thumb appears. From there it's a quick mile across the meadow to the feature. Turn around and hike home following the signs to the Horseshoe Trail
and back to the trailhead.
This is an awesome hike. Enjoy!