Tom’s Thumb Hike in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

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The distinctive pinnacle topping the McDowell Mountains is the destination of the Tom’s Thumb Trail in the Scottsdale McDowell Preserve. The difficult, 1,112-foot uphill slog tops out at the eponymous pill, with sweeping Valley views and endless photo opportunities.

Getting There: 

Tom’s Thumb Trailhead: 23015 N. 128th St., Scottsdale

From Loop 101 in Scottsdale, take the Pima Road/Princess Drive exit 36. Continue 5 miles north to Happy Valley Road. Turn right (east) and go 4.1 miles on Happy Valley to Ranch Gate Road. Turn right, go 1.2 miles then turn right onto 128th Street. Continue 1 mile to the signed trailhead. Roads are paved.

Length: 2.3 miles one way to Tom’s Thumb, or 5 miles one way for entire trail

Rating: difficult

Kid Friendly: NO

Pet Friendly: NO


  • To Tom’s Thumb it’s 2,813-3,925 feet
  • Entire trail is 2,438-3,925 feet

Best Season: October-April

Facilities: restrooms, horse trailer parking, no water

Hours: sunrise-sunset daily

Photo credit Mare Czinar/PHOENIX

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