This is for those wanting something more than the standard Gateway Loop trail provides.
This hike started at the Gateway Center, taking the Gateway Loop trail counter-clockwise to the Paradise Trail. The Paradise trail ended being a much nice trail than I'd expected. On the map, I saw the track going through neighborhoods, but actually you don't see allot of them, and it ends up being a nice "stretcher" of a hike, for what is to come later. From Paradise to the Quartz trail until it ended, and then the .8 mile bushwhack up the hill to the saddle at N33 38.423 W111 48.189, to meet up with the Thompson peak trail. This section was a bit dicey in spots and was slow going due to the loose rocks and 3 stops to remove Cholla from my ankles.
Once on the Thompson Peak trail it was a steep slog to the top. When you start getting close to the top, this without a doubt is the steepest concrete I have ever been on. I kept wondering how in the heck they even poured it. Now it was quite windy today, and I had problems keeping my hat on at times, but once I got to the top...... it was cold and it was a gale force! I took a quick video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHwp6Hxg06A
and some shots and retreated down a ways to find some protection from the wind and eat some lunch.
Down to the bottom of Thompson Peak trail and off on the Prospector trail. I really like the east side of the McDowell's, the trails are in great shape and you feel like you are miles from the city. Next, I met up with the Bell Pass trail and took that over to Windgate Pass, and down to meet up with the Gateway loop trail and back to Gateway Center to finish things up.
I was really surprised today that with the cooler temperatures I didn't see more people out there today. Once I was off the Gateway Loop trail proper, and until I got back on the Gateway Loop trail proper I only saw one person all day. (and he was driving down the Thompson Peak trail from the towers. That's basically 6 hours with seeing nobody.
Loved the cool weather...