The Tom’s Thumb Trail in the City of Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve Southern Region is a well reviewed and popular activity. Plan to spend from 1 to 4 hours hiking from the parking lot to The Thumb. The official guide lists the trail as “extremely difficult”, but we did not find it so. We hiked it as a family endeavor 2 days after Thanksgiving in perfect weather, and it was busy with young fathers carrying children, couples with dogs on leashes, and people of all ages and conditions. No one appeared to be struggling. There were even some dirt bikers who did not appear to be challenged by the often upward thrust of the pathway. It does get a bit difficult in some places but there is always a payoff coming in the form of a scenic overlook or place to rest. It also is not a high elevation deal breaker. The Thumb at the top of the trailhead sits at 3,840 feet. This Preserve is threaded through with other hikes ranging from easy to difficult, but Tom’s Thumb seems to be the most favored.
One hiker said in their on-line review that the trail was not as hard as Camelback but harder than Pinnacle and that they really enjoyed the ride there. This seemed a fair assessment. Don’t do it without water handy. There are toilets and a well-used water fountain only at the beginning, and no drinking water is available on the trail. Take your own. Ruth made it to about the midpoint, an approximately 600 feet climb, and was waiting at the bottom when the rest of us descended. She said she talked to a lot of hikers both going up and returning. A lot of Thumbers commented on this sociable aspect of the climb as everyone seemed to be enjoying their time there. Tom’s name becomes more understandable as you approach it.
Some signs told the geologic reasons for what we were seeing using terms like landmass collision, seafloor sinking, and volcanic heat melting rocks, but few were taking the time to read them. There were some plants identified, like Buckhorn Cholla, and a few birds flitting about in the cooler than expected holiday afternoon. This outing was a great bonding, post-Thanksgiving treat.