After an impromptu breakfast with friends at Carefree Resort we were eager to walk off Thanksgiving turkey (thank you Whole Foods). We were running short on time but decided on Tom’s Thumb Trail just outside Scottsdale in the McDowell Mountain Preserve. Unfortunately we didn’t realize the park closed at sunset 5:30pm and there were signs posted at the trailhead warning of fines for staying after sunset.
Despite the late start we hit the trail and decided to see how far we could get despite the late start. This is a very popular trail as the titular feature is a prominent granite outcropping “Tom’s Thumb” that’s easily visible for miles around. The Thumb has a great view over the Phoenix and Scottsdale metro area.
The trailhead is newly renovated and although it lacks water (what doesn’t in the desert) it has brand new restrooms and a nice shaded area to hide from the sun. With the sun quickly setting we beat feet and made our way up to the Thumb. The trail is initially quite flat for about 1/4 mile before it abruptly begins climbing. You begin rapidly climbing up via a series of switchbacks. It’s quite steep in places and despite the fall chill in the air I was able to warm up quite quickly. By the time we reached the ridgeline the sun was just moving behind the mountains.
There were a few well lit cacti and a neat rock outcropping rewarding us at the to of the ridge. Although we weren’t able to reach Tom’s Thumb we soaked in the last few rays of light before making an about face and quickly heading back to the car. Would love to come back and finish the trail all the way to Tom’s Thumb.