Tom’s Thumb is one of the best hikes in Scottsdale and a favorite amongst residents. Before heading out to Tom’s Thumb, it’s very important to know that there is absolutely no water at the trailhead, so be sure to bring enough with you for your hike. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash at all times. If you have hiking shoes-wear them! The trail is well paved, but there are areas with loose rocks that can be slippery when wearing tennis shoes.
Access to the trailhead is from the new Tom’s Thumb Trailhead off North 128th Street. Most GPS directions direct you to go through in inaccessible gated residential community, so follow these directions instead: from the intersection of Happy Valley and Pima Road, head east on Happy Valley for about 4.25 miles. Turn right (east) on Ranch Gate Road and go 1.3 miles. Turn right (south) on 128th St, this part of 128th St is now paved. It’s at the end of 128th St, about 1 mile. The new trailhead is complete with ample parking, sun shades, restrooms (but remember-no water) and informational displays detailing the local flora, fauna, and geology.
As you begin the trail, enjoy the gentle grades as you hike through varieties of desert flora, cholla and saguaro cacti. After about a half-mile, the trail grade increases dramatically. Be sure to take frequent breaks, drink water and enjoy the scenic views of the McDowell Mountains. At this point your legs may persuade you to turn around, but I promise the trail does become easier. The changing scenery along the well marked trail keeps you motivated to keep going.
Once you have reached the ridge, the trail becomes easier as it continues on a smooth trail along the hillside. Follow the trail as it goes through large boulders on its way to the summit of Tom’s Thumb. After passing the boulders, you reach the summit-Tom’s Thumb! The “thumb” is named after a prolific and loved local rock climber, Tom Kreuser. On a clear day, you can see Camelback Mountain that is roughly 14 miles away to the south. Now is the time to find a “cozy” boulder to sit on and enjoy the panoramic views! After enjoying yourself at the summit, simply retrace the trail back down to your car.