is one of the best hikes in Scottsdale, notable for its smooth trail surface, great signage, and interesting rock features. King of all the rock features along this hike is the hike's namesake and turn-around point: Tom's Thumb
. At 1.4 billion years old, the towering granite slabs of Tom's Thumb
have stood the test of time and are truly a sight to see.
Access this awesome hike from the new Tom's Thumb Trailhead off North 128th Street, complete with sun shades, restrooms, and informational kiosks detailing the local flora, fauna, and geology. From the parking area, head through the bathroom and sunshade facility to reach the Tom's Thumb
Trail on the opposite side.
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
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. As a great detour, you can follow the path as it navigates large boulders on its way to the summit of Tom's Thumb
Continuing past the Tom's Thumb Summit Access
trail, the main trail begins a stiff descent through loose, switchbacking terrain to reach its end in a junction with the Windgate Pass Trail