Mountain To Town Hike: Tom's Thumb

POSTED BY COURTNEY WILSON | DEC, 9 2018

  • Where: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Distance: 4.0 miles Out & Back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,236 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dogs: Allowed On A Leash

Tom’s Thumb is a beautiful four-mile trail right outside of Scottsdale, Arizona in the McDowell Mountains. This trail is extremely popular for good reason. It’s easily one of the most beautiful trails in the Phoenix area. There is no water at the trailhead, so it’s important to bring your own. Even on a cooler day, it’s important not to underestimate how much water you need in the desert. You should have at least 1-3 liters per person.

Once you’re ready to go, the trail starts out easy on a relatively flat and smooth trail that goes through desert plants like cactus and creosote bush, which are typical of the area. Then after a half a mile, you reach the switchbacks. This is where it might be slow going for most people - between the steep inclines and the gorgeous vistas in every direction, it’s hard not to stop to rest and admire the view. There are plenty of places to rest along the way because there are boulders to sit on all along the trail, and they seem to get bigger the higher up the mountain you go. The trail levels out again when you’re about a half a mile from the summit and you wind around the hillside through grass and some large boulders.

As you start to reach the summit, you’ll finally see the giant granite rock called Tom’s Thumb. You’ll also probably see rock climbers out trying to conquer the thumb and many other rocks near the summit. The best part isn’t the rock itself though - it’s the view from the top. You get a spectacular view of the mountains throughout the Phoenix area and of the city itself. I was lucky enough to see an insanely gorgeous sunset and the transition into blue hour where all of the city lights were visible.

There is plenty of space to hang out at the summit and enjoy the fruit of your labor for a while. It’s important not to forget that you’re only halfway done! This is an out and back trail, so you go back down the same trail you first came up. You need to be careful here because the rocky desert soil can be loose on the steep trail and you don’t want to slip and fall. Once you’re back to the trailhead, you’ll probably be pretty tired. Since the trail is right on the edge of town, you’re only a few minutes from an abundance of food options to refuel.

When we hiked this trail, we got to test Lems’ new “Trailhead” shoe. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with their performance. The wide toe box was something that really stood out to me. I broke my big toe a few months back, and even though it’s “healed” now it hasn’t been quite the same since. Having room for natural movement really helped, and I didn’t get the same soreness in my toe that I’ve grown accustomed to on hikes.

I also loved that the shoes were flexible and grippy. It made it easy for me to climb up on some boulders and feel secure. I didn't feel like I was going to slide off of anything. My friend is also happy with her shoes for a lot of the same reasons! In the week since this hike, I’ve found myself wearing the Lems for an approach hike and at the crag while on a rock climbing trip, on the way to the rock gym after work, and out running errands. These shoes look good, and they’re multifunctional. They’re definitely something I’ll continue wearing in the future.

Want To Snag A Pair?

Courtney Wilson

Courtney is based of out Phoenix, Arizona. When she is not hiking, climbing, camping, or otherwise being outdoors, you can probably find her at a coffee shop drinking iced coffee by the gallons. In her own words, “I love that I can incorporate my love for photography into my love of being outdoors and traveling. I love that it’s driven me to travel thousands of miles over the last two years and to experience places I had only dreamed of before”

Mountain To Town Hike: Tom's Thumb

BY COURTNEY WILSON | DEC, 9 2018

  • Where: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Distance: 4.0 miles Out & Back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,236 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Dogs: Allowed On A Leash

Tom’s Thumb is a beautiful four-mile trail right outside of Scottsdale, Arizona in the McDowell Mountains. This trail is extremely popular for good reason. It’s easily one of the most beautiful trails in the Phoenix area. There is no water at the trailhead, so it’s important to bring your own. Even on a cooler day, it’s important not to underestimate how much water you need in the desert. You should have at least 1-3 liters per person.

Once you’re ready to go, the trail starts out easy on a relatively flat and smooth trail that goes through desert plants like cactus and creosote bush, which are typical of the area. Then after a half a mile, you reach the switchbacks. This is where it might be slow going for most people - between the steep inclines and the gorgeous vistas in every direction, it’s hard not to stop to rest and admire the view. There are plenty of places to rest along the way because there are boulders to sit on all along the trail, and they seem to get bigger the higher up the mountain you go. The trail levels out again when you’re about a half a mile from the summit and you wind around the hillside through grass and some large boulders.

As you start to reach the summit, you’ll finally see the giant granite rock called Tom’s Thumb. You’ll also probably see rock climbers out trying to conquer the thumb and many other rocks near the summit. The best part isn’t the rock itself though - it’s the view from the top. You get a spectacular view of the mountains throughout the Phoenix area and of the city itself. I was lucky enough to see an insanely gorgeous sunset and the transition into blue hour where all of the city lights were visible.

There is plenty of space to hang out at the summit and enjoy the fruit of your labor for a while. It’s important not to forget that you’re only halfway done! This is an out and back trail, so you go back down the same trail you first came up. You need to be careful here because the rocky desert soil can be loose on the steep trail and you don’t want to slip and fall. Once you’re back to the trailhead, you’ll probably be pretty tired. Since the trail is right on the edge of town, you’re only a few minutes from an abundance of food options to refuel.

When we hiked this trail, we got to test Lems’ new “Trailhead” shoe. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with their performance. The wide toe box was something that really stood out to me. I broke my big toe a few months back, and even though it’s “healed” now it hasn’t been quite the same since. Having room for natural movement really helped, and I didn’t get the same soreness in my toe that I’ve grown accustomed to on hikes.

I also loved that the shoes were flexible and grippy. It made it easy for me to climb up on some boulders and feel secure. I didn't feel like I was going to slide off of anything. My friend is also happy with her shoes for a lot of the same reasons! In the week since this hike, I’ve found myself wearing the Lems for an approach hike and at the crag while on a rock climbing trip, on the way to the rock gym after work, and out running errands. These shoes look good, and they’re multifunctional. They’re definitely something I’ll continue wearing in the future.

Want To Snag A Pair?

Courtney Wilson

Courtney is based of out Phoenix, Arizona. When she is not hiking, climbing, camping, or otherwise being outdoors, you can probably find her at a coffee shop drinking iced coffee by the gallons. In her own words, “I love that I can incorporate my love for photography into my love of being outdoors and traveling. I love that it’s driven me to travel thousands of miles over the last two years and to experience places I had only dreamed of before”

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