Hiking Tom’s Thumb Trail
An insider’s take on hiking this North Scottsdale landmark
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by David Porter. David runs a travel blog, The Roaming Boomers, where he and his wife, Carol, share their insiders’ view of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Arizona.
One of the great benefits of visiting Scottsdale, Arizona is the vast array of breathtaking, long-range panoramas available. These views are especially plentiful when you take a healthy hike on one of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve’s hiking trails. Best of all, the Preserve is located right here within the city limits!
On a beautiful sunny day recently, my wife and I decided to climb up the back (north) side of Tom’s Thumb, a prominent Scottsdale landmark. You can get to this particular section of the Tom’s Thumb Trail via Happy Valley Road. Here is a map for your reference.
This particular trail is about 4.5 miles round trip. During the journey you will climb a little over 800 feet, with 1350 feet of accumulated gain. The trails are very well manicured and offer easy hiking except for the elevation gains.
Young people with young bones will find this easy hiking. Baby boomers can certainly enjoy this hike as well, you just may want to allow some extra time to catch your breath from time to time. We took our time, enjoyed the scenery, had a picnic at the top, and found ourselves back to our car in 4 1/2 hours.
We didn’t take the time to scope it out, but you may want to look around the summit area for the Ogre’s Den. This is a natural cave that was formed by one of the fallen massive granite boulders, and provides hikers a mysterious place to explore.
When hiking in the arid climate of the Sonoran Desert, it is imperative that you follow a few critical rules:
- Let someone know where you are going, and when they can expect your return.
- Make certain that you have protected yourself from the sun with a good sunscreen and hat.
- Make absolutely certain that you have a least 2 liters of water/person for this hike. We both had two liters on our backs, and we were bone dry by the time we got back to the bottom.
If you prefer an easier hike, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve has over 30,200 scenic acres with a trail for every taste and level of fitness.
In closing, it would be nearly criminal to visit Scottsdale and not get some cowboy dust on your shoes while hiking one of our beautiful trails. By all means, leave some time in your schedule for a day hike!