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Tom's Thumb Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (6)

A stiff climb on desert singletrack leading to fantastic views of Tom's Thumb and the surrounding area.


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Map Key

4.8

Miles

7.6

KM

Point to Point

3,773' 1,150 m

High

2,445' 745 m

Low

1,133' 345 m

Up

1,390' 424 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

56%

Max Grade (29°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Views

There is absolutely no water at the trailhead, so be sure to bring enough with you to succeed on your hike. Conventional wisdom for the area dictates each member of your party should bring at least 2-3 liters of water during the summer and 1-2 liters in spring, fall, or winter. Improper hydration coupled with the steep gradients along this hike can spell trouble for even the most seasoned desert hiker.

Description

Tom's Thumb 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.

Contacts

Land Manager: City of Scottsdale

Shared By:

Hunter R

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 6 votes

#7094

Overall
  4.5 from 6 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
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Trail Rankings

#202

in Arizona

#7,094

Overall
5 Views Last Month
1,145 Since Oct 7, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

View north from near summit of Tom's Thumb.
Dec 22, 2019 near Fountai…, AZ
Surrounding mountains from Tom's Thumb Trail
Jul 24, 2019 near Fountai…, AZ
The thumb. Get there!
May 15, 2015 near Fountai…, AZ
Tom's Thumb - Scottsdale, AZ.
Dec 1, 2017 near Fountai…, AZ
Inspiration Point
Apr 19, 2015 near Fountai…, AZ
Top of Tom's Thumb!
Dec 1, 2017 near Fountai…, AZ

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All Clear 30 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Mar 4, 2021
Irena Blaceri
Dec 8, 2020
Sonya Hikergirl
4.8mi — 2h 30m
May 23, 2020
Prabhakar Swaroop
Mar 22, 2020
Brian Link
7.3mi — 3h 19m
Jan 19, 2020
Jeanette Schriner
Beautiful view and breeze. Finished hike around sunset
Mar 3, 2019
Guy Granger
Did as part of a 10 mi loop from Tom's Thumb TH and over Windgate pass, up East End. SW part of this trail in the canyon is gorgeous. 4.7mi — 3h 00m
Dec 8, 2018
Hunter Ruffin
Love this hike! Definitely one of my favorites in Phoenix because of its beauty and the panoramic views of the valley you get throughout the hike. 10mi — 5h 00m
Sep 16, 2018
Mimi Burke-Krouse