About this hike: Every time I visit the McDowell-Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve I am impressed by what a spectacular job the City of Scottsdale has done with this outdoor recreation haven in the McDowell Mountains. Trailheads feature abundant parking and facilities including restrooms (waterless latrines, so definitely bring your own drinking water), well-stocked literature racks including maps, and trash/recycling bins. The best part is that the preserve is free to use.
I decided to take advantage of warm January temps and an overcast day to visit Tom's Thumb, a trailhead I haven't visited in years. Getting there involves a bit of a drive up the 101-N, exit at Pima, continue on Happy Valley... Arterial streets give way to meandering residential streets lined with million-dollar mansions and views of the McDowells to match. Unlike a few years ago when I first visited, roads to Tom's Thumb now feature clear signage to the parking area.
Tom's Thumb proved to be full of other hikers with similar Saturday plans. Nabbing a parking spot was still not difficult. The hike up to Tom's Thumb was about two miles each way and featured strenuous uphill for most of the hike up. The trails are smooth and well graded, which can be a bit deceptive as they are also slippery gravel in spots. I would HIGHLY recommend (and regret not having) hiking poles for the trek down. A lot of people bring dogs on this trail and I got to play with a number of cute, friendly huskies this afternoon.
Exploring the Thumb is pretty cool, but definitely not an all-day event. There are plenty of spur and side trails to explore, all well-signed at junctions/trailheads. I opted to hike the Marcus Landslide, which is accessible both at Tom's Thumb trailhead and at a junction off the Tom's Thumb trail. Signs along Marcus Landslide trail provide some insight into how the landslide occurred, and how this has shaped the present-day McDowell Mountains. The trail was a relatively flat, easy one-miler each way.
Very enjoyable Saturday. I guess I need to visit McDowell-Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve more often.
|Rock climbers atop Tom's Thumb|
|Hazy sunshine over the Marcus Landslide|