Descent from chaos into serenity
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.
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.
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.