Hike Tom’s Thumb Trail – McDowell Mountains
|Out and Back
Tom’s Thumb Trail is a 4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Rio Verde, Arizona that features beautiful wildflowers and is rated as difficult.
The parking lot is off Squaw Peak drive and leads to many more hiking trails in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. The route starts on a short connector trail and then goes straight up to the summit.
The start of Tom’s Thumb Trail is on the opposite side of the parking lot. It is a slow start, allowing you to wander among the many kinds of scrubby desert vegetation. Old saguaros soar above you and spiky, yellow-tinted cholla lurk below.
After approximately a half-mile, the route steepens considerably as it makes its way to the crest. The route becomes considerably easier once you’ve reached the crest.
Turn right at the first fork in the trail. Follow the Tom’s Thumb Trail as it winds through enormous granitic rocks until a second fork. Look for a little sign directing you to a short route on the right.
After passing through the boulders, you’ll reach Tom’s Thumb. Don’t be shocked if you hear the jingling sound of metal protection dangling from climbers’ harnesses above you. This area is a mecca for rock climbing.
Find a boulder around the thumb, grab some food and drink, and take in the incredible views. Retrace your steps back to the main route and down to your car after enjoying yourself at the peak.
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