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East End Trail - MSP, AZ

no permit
314 139 2
Guide 139 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.5 of 5 by 24
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 1.38 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,580 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,047 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.5-1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 4.87
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins & Historic
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
13  2019-01-25
Lost Wall Loop Plus
7  2019-01-12
Toms Thumb Marcus Landslide Loop
19  2018-12-29
Hog Heaven - East End - Toms Thumb
11  2018-12-29
Hog Heaven - East End - Tom's Thumb
9  2018-12-29
Hog Heaven - East End - Toms Thumb
7  2018-12-29
Hog Heaven-East End-Toms Thumb
9  2018-12-07
Lost Wall Loop - extended version - MSP/MMRP
14  2018-11-09
Hog Heaven Extended Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 10
Author neilends
author avatar Guides 8
Routes 16
Photos 182
Trips 140 map ( 670 miles )
Age 47 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Jan, Dec → 7 AM
Seasons   Early Winter to Late Winter
Sun  6:14am - 6:26pm
Official Route
51 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Descent from chaos into serenity
by neilends

This trail features excellent views and a fun scramble along a steep (14% grade) and narrow trail. Heading south it will take you away from the crowded Tom Thumb Trail, as the crowds are more interested in Tom's Thumb than in exploring the rest of the Preserve. And, it features an ol' miner's camp stocked with an old oil stove, mining tools and other miner stuff, called the Ogre's Den.

Ogre's Den
This is worth its own sub-heading to emphasize this unique highlight of the area. But I'll leave any detailed descriptions of what exactly this is and where exactly it's located to the reader's efforts (or searches on the HAZ forum, hint hint.) There is a log book in the den. Good luck.

The East End is a north-south trail that can be reached via Tom's Thumb Trail on the north, or the Windmill Trail on the south. If you choose its shortest access point, from the north, you will be starting at an elevation of about 3,600 feet, walking right past the Tom's Thumb spur, and quickly making your way downhill. Some care should be exercised on this trail due to its grade, and a minimal amount of loose rock.

Although it's obvious that the Tom's Thumb area is normally saturated with hikers and even high-fitness runners when the weather's nice, the crowd rapidly disappears as you make your way down. I did encounter a handful of curious gawkers who had decided to aimlessly keep walking in the same direction, without a plan and obviously without maps. But on realizing that a vast network of trails was ahead of them plus a big downhill that would have to be reversed, they stopped, mumbled to each other that "there was nothing much to see out there" (all the better for me that they erroneously think so), and returned home. Within minutes, then, I was in complete and total solitude and hopefully you will be too.

The views straight ahead as you slowly make your way down a series of easy switchbacks are scrumptious. You're looking at large, mysterious boulders alongside the hill you are descending, while gaping into the heart of the McDowell-Sonoran Preserve. Directly ahead of you is a small canyon that will soon serve as your general route. As you hike your way around a narrow curve (not precarious), Thompson Peak with its radio towers will come in to view, along with the trails leading up to and around its summit.

Once the route begins to flatten and you start walking alongside the small canyon you'd spotted from above, the trail will soon come to an end upon meeting the Windmill Trail. The elevation at this point is about 2,600. From here, you can choose to turn left (east) on the Windmill and start hiking into the McDowell Mountain Regional Park, the officially-marked boundary of which is about a one-mile, flat stroll away. Or you can turn right (west) and begin hiking on the Windgate Pass Trail to Windgate Pass (elevation 3,031), and beyond.

The downhill hike for East End Trail is not terribly strenuous, being downhill. If you are hiking it uphill/northbound, ample water for desert hiking is a must during warm weather.

Not allowed in the MSP.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2014-08-20 neilends
  • MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 1
    area related
    MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 1
  • MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 2
    area related
    MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 2
  • MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 3
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    MSP Rock Climbing Guide - Page 3
  • MSP - Approved Climbing Areas 2011
    area related
    MSP - Approved Climbing Areas 2011
  • overview map
    area related

One-Way Notice
This hike is listed as One-Way.

When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 41 deeper Triplog Reviews
East End Trail - MSP
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Tom's Thumb-Marcus Landslide area loop
Linda and Marlee joined me for a nearly 11 mile loop in the McDowells.

Starting at Tom's Thumb Trailhead, we hiked up Tom's Thumb Trail, went down East End, continued east one Windmill and then Coachwhip, turned left onto Pemberton, and left again on Boulder. When we hit the Marcus Landslide Trail, we turned left to do the interpretive loop before heading back to the trailhead.

We saw a number of other trail users on Tom's Thumb and Marcus Landslide, but not many on the other trails.

No snakes today, but we did see a number of bunnies. We also saw a deer as we were starting out.
East End Trail - MSP
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haven't done this combo in two and a half years
it's a good one
needed double digits with some aeg as i'll probably be working the next two sundays
'tis the season
got going around nine
gateway loop :next: bell pass :next: east end :next: the lookout :next: tom's thumb :next: windgate :next: gateway
counterclockwise so i could go up east end
temps were fine, but the wind added some chill at the passes and high points
couldn't stay at the lookout
wasn't very crowded once off gateway loop
had fun on an old favorite

forgot to mention that i came up on @darthstiller and his family hiking gateway loop
how could i tell? no one else has pants like that
nice to meet you, chris!
East End Trail - MSP
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Toms Thumb Marcus Landslide Loop
Linda, Linda, Susan, and Ben joined me for a 9.5 / 10.75 mile loop (with nearly 2200 feet of total ascent) starting from Tom's Thumb Trailhead. We hiked up Tom's Thumb Trail, down East End, turned left on Windmill, left on Pemberton, left on Boulder, and then right on Marcus Landslide. When we got to the intersection with Feldspar, Linda K joined me for a short scouting trip for my rappelling session on Saturday. The rest returned to the trailhead via Marcus Landslide.

Linda K and I continued up Feldspar and then turned left onto the climber's access trail which leads to the Morrell's Wall Parking Lot crags. My wife and I used to climb in this area way back when and I recalled that bees were occasionally a problem on the scramble down from the top. (There are a number of two or three bolt anchors at the top of "7 Up" and "Back To the Wall" now, but back then they didn't exist, so the descent was to scramble down.) For Saturday, my plan was for us to scramble to the top and rappel down. I was concerned that Africanized bees might be a problem for the scramble to the top. In any case, I scrambled up to where I remember seeing bees, but found none. (Yay!)

After satisfying myself that bees wouldn't bother us on Saturday, Linda and I returned to Feldspar, and then hiked a short way back down Tom's Thumb Trail to the parking lot.

The morning was cool and cloudy with some light rain that started midway through the hike. It rained just enough to bring out the desert smells that rain brings.
East End Trail - MSP
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Heather and I hiked a ten mile loop starting from Tom's Thumb Trailhead. Starting on Tom's Thumb Trail, we took the first climber's access trail to the right. This trail led us to the ridge upon which Tom's Thumb is situated. We continued past Tom's Thumb to Tom's Thumb Trail, turned left and descended (mostly) to the intersection with the East End Trail. We took East End down to Windmill, the returned via Coachwhip, Pemberton, Boulder, and Marcus Landslide.

The climber's access trail which we hiked early on (which forms a significant part of the so called "Lost Wall Loop") is steep and loose in spots, but I found it much easier to follow than in the past where I would often get lost for a while by inadvertently following a wrong path. Either I'm getting better at it or some work has been done on this trail to make it somewhat easier to follow. That said, you still need to look carefully.

On my past two times out on this climber's access trail that goes near the Lost Wall, I went the other direction, descending the trail. It's definitely easier from a technical standpoint to go up rather than down. As mentioned above, the trail is very loose and it's easier to deal with the loose conditions when ascending.

We saw a tarantula midway up the climber's access trail. It was near a hole in the ground which was probably its home.

Later on, after we had gained the ridge, we saw a Sonoran Coral Snake. It was pencil thin and perhaps two feet in length. It wasn't interested in staying near us. I did get a few pictures, but they're not as good as I would have liked.

When we got to the intersection with the East End Trail, we spoke to a Preserve steward who clearly thought we were nuts to do the route that I had planned. He didn't try to talk us out of it, but he did ask Heather whether she had ever done this route before. (I told him that Heather had done longer and harder hikes with me in the past.)

A short while later, while we were hiking down the East End Trail, we encountered a very fit trail runner named Anika (not sure about the spelling). She had a 17 mile run planned for the day. What really surprised me was that she was able to accomplish it with just a small water bottle tucked into the waistband of her running shorts. I've seen her on at least two other occasions - she's very fit.

It started getting warm when we got to the Pemberton Trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. As we approached the Boulder Trail, I polished off the first (of two) 3L water reservoir that I had brought with me. I think I drank about 4L total for the day.

Heather hadn't hiked the Marcus Landslide Trail before, so we paused at a several shady spots along the way and looked at the rock formations. There are a number of interesting mushroom boulders along the way. Plus, the entire area is studded with boulders almost anywhere you look.
East End Trail - MSP
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For Friday's hike, I did a loop starting from the Tom's Thumb Trailhead: Up Tom's Thumb, down East End, then continuing around on Windmill, Coachwhip, Pemberton, Boulder, Marcus Landslide, and Feldspar, with a short section of Tom's Thumb (again) to finish up.

My friend Linda accompanied me on the hike up Tom's Thumb. It was good to see her again after her (continuing) recovery from her knee injury.

We noticed several new signs to overlooks on the Tom's Thumb Trail. We also noticed that the recently added gabions seem to be working well to allow drainage without erosion.

I've been experimenting with wearing long sleeve shirts to help stay cool. The one I wore seems hot at first, but became quite comfortable once I started sweating.

The weather is still warm with temps between the low 80s when I started to the mid- to upper-90s when I finished. I drank at least 4L of water on the hike.
East End Trail - MSP
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That little mountain spring was going. I have only been out here once before, a few months back, but I don't recall seeing it before. Ran into John on the way down and we chatted a bit about our upcoming Kilimanjaro trip; it is getting close. I made the same mistake again when hopping onto East End. I turned at the signed intersection and followed the trail a short ways but then quickly realized the trail was about a 100 feet to my right. Ah well.
East End Trail - MSP
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Micky D Loop
Decided to head to a place I haven't been before. The journey up Tom's Thumb North was pretty amazing. It reminded me a lot of the Alabama Foothills out by Whitney.

Lost the trail a bit at the East End intersection. Seems ridiculous but I was just enjoying the views and not paying much attention to where I was going. All of a sudden, there is no more trail and I am staring down a cliff at where the trail actually is.

While on the climb up Tom's Thumb North I had to make a nature pit stop. As I was taking care of business I heard a buzzing sound to my side, I turned and saw a hummingbird looking for food in the bush I was at. The next instant the bird is buzzing at my business end examining where all this liquid is coming from. I jumped back as I started laughing. I did not ever expect something like that to happen.
East End Trail - MSP
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After several weekends away I wanted something short and close to home. This fit the bill perfectly. I was on trail around 7:15am and headed up. A handful of people were out and temps were very pleasant. I hit the Toms Thumb turnoff and powered my way up and skipped the thumb and headed directly for the East End Trail. From there I dropped down into the valley and connected over the Bell Pass Trail. The last few miles blurred by and I opted to return on the equestrian bypass. This avoids the crowds. I was all done around 11am and then headed home.
East End Trail - MSP
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Spent the morning at World Wildlife Zoo in Litchfield Park with kids and Brad. After nap - had a babysitter. So we did Tom's Thumb up to EE junction (36 minutes for me) and then down East End for intervals. Dinner at the Living Room in DC Ranch - I enjoy people watching there. Human zoo LOL.
East End Trail - MSP
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What a great introductory hike in the McDowell's, from Tom's Thumb's Grand Central Station Trail, :PMIC: to the solitude of Inspiration Point, finishing up on the East End Trail :wlift: :stretch: :y: . The trails are currently being worked on and in great shape. The views are outstanding and something available for all levels of hiking, climbing or whatever your into. Will definitely return to see what else the McDowell's have to offer..

Permit $$

Map Drive
Connector trail - Not Applicable

To Tom's Thumb Trailhead
1) 101 (Pima Freeway) to Frank Lloyd Wright
2) East on Frank Lloyd Right to N Thompson Peak Parkway
3) North on Thompson Peak Parkway to McDowell Sonoran Preserve Gateway Trailhead to drop off first vehicle
4) Then North on Thompson Peak Parkway to Pima Rd
5) North on Pima Rd to Happy Valley Rd
6) East on Happy Valley Rd until it turns north and changes to 116th st.
7) East on Ranch Gate Rd to 128th St
8) South on 128th to Park Entrance

From Exit 36 of AZ-101 Loop North, head northeast on North Pima Rd 4.7 miles to East Happy Valley Road. Turn right onto East Happy Valley Road and drive 4.3 miles to Ranch Gate Road. Turn right onto Ranch Gate Road and travel 1.3 miles and then turn right onto North 128th Street. After 1.0 mile on North 128th Street, you'll be at the trailhead gate. No water at the trailhead! Bathrooms are non-flush.

If you just pop in the coordinates of the trailhead, it's very possible that your GPS unit will tell you to wrong turn from Happy Valley Road onto Alameda Road at ( 33.706667, -111.832396 ). Don't do it! Those GPS units don't know that there's a locked gate at (33.694441, -111.813335).

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 34.8 mi, 55 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 135 mi, 2 hours 24 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 149 mi, 2 hours 37 mins
page created by trekkin_gecko on Aug 20 2014 9:13 pm
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