Hiking to Tom’s Thumb | Scottsdale, AZ

The Stats:
Trail name: Tom's Thumb Trail
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Distance: 4.6 miles, out and back
Elevation Gain: 1,236 feet
Published Difficulty: Difficult
Dog Friendliness: Definitely dog friendly 

The Tom’s Thumb Trail Guide

Tom’s Thumb trail is often referred to as one of the best hikes in Scottsdale. It’s no wonder with its healthy elevation gain and massive payoff at the trail’s end.

Named after a prolific and loved local rock climber, Tom Kreuser, the well-maintained trail meanders up into the McDowell Sonoran Preserve by way of switchbacks until you reach the saddle. While the elevation gain is consistent, it’s definitely manageable. The saddle marks the first real break for your legs.

Past the saddle, the trail is dotted with huge boulders as it continues to ebb and flow its way toward Tom’s Thumb. The boulders resemble something that could have come straight from The Flintstones. Or the moon. Really great geological features.

At the first junction, you’ll keep right to reach Tom’s Thumb. If you’re in the mood for a quick detour on the way, though, veer onto the trail furthest left (closest to the mountain) to get to Miner’s Cave.

After just under two miles of hiking you will reach the signed junction for the East End Trail and the base of Tom’s Thumb. Turn right here to continue back to the towering summit. Note that this final section of the trail is not as well marked and will require a bit of scrambling. The trail is still easy to follow, even though it might feel like you’re going the wrong way at times.

Once you reach the base of Tom’s Thumb, snap some pics, grab a seat in one of the surrounding caves, have a snack and some water, and rest your legs before heading back the way you came.


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Pick up the 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Phoenix book. Or view other trail options below. Happy hiking!

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