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The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North, AZ

no permit
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Guide 36 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.6 of 5 by 14
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,816 feet
Elevation Gain 1,096 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,672 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2-3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.46
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Backpack No
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19  2018-12-29
Hog Heaven - East End - Toms Thumb
9  2018-12-29
Hog Heaven - East End - Toms Thumb
10  2018-12-18
Tom's Thumb Loop off Windgate Pass Trail
11  2018-02-16
Lost Wall Loop - McDowell Mountains
8  2017-04-26 Jim_H
7  2017-02-26
Micky D Loop
13  2017-01-07 xthine
1  2017-01-02 cindyl
Page 1,  2,  3
Author Crzy4AZ
author avatar Guides 31
Routes 96
Photos 2,588
Trips 589 map ( 2,119 miles )
Age 46 Female Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Feb, Apr
Seasons   Late Autumn
Sun  6:14am - 6:26pm
Official Route
4 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Skip the Thumb
by Crzy4AZ

Most people who hike Tom's Thumb trail from the North side are planning to visit its namesake "the Thumb". If you're looking for a different view then this is the hike for you. I enjoy Tom's Thumb north for it's steep climb and good workout combined with beautiful granite boulder field and incredible views along the ridge in all directions.

Follow the signs from the trailhead parking lot for Tom's Thumb trail about 1.6 miles to junction with East End trail. Stay on Tom's Thumb for another 0.5 miles to the sign for The Lookout trail. Go left (south) 0.5 miles to the dead end Lookout and look down and all around you. Windgate Pass is below and Thompson Peak not too far away. Behind you is the classic Thumb and East End Peak.

Return the way you came - or if you just can't resist stopping by the Thumb - then watch for a sign that says "Rock Climbing Access Route: Tom's Thumb/Gardener's Wall" about 0.1 miles from the junction with The Lookout. Taking that out/back section to the base of the Thumb adds 0.8 miles to your roundtrip total.

The trailhead has equestrian parking, two regular parking lots, info plaques, maps, non-flushing bathrooms but NO WATER!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2014-03-13 Crzy4AZ
    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 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Decided to take advantage of the cool weather and drove up to Scottsdale to go to the Lookout. Nice and cool and about 60F heading up and breezy. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of flowers still hanging around. Mostly cactus, but a fair number of other small flowers here and there. There's been a lot of maintenance on the trail lately and it's in really good shape. Had a snack at the Lookout and scouted out the trails below (Windgate pass mainly) and headed back down.

    Mostly prickly pear but a decent variety of other typical flowers, just not very many overall.
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I wanted to get to more birds and bird calls in a place like the Pinals, but this was a pretty good second. Went to the overlook, it was quiet, the views were decent, and when I was back at the well developed TH, I layed down and listened to the abundant quail calls. Very nice. It has a Catalina SP feel to it. Nice to be somewhere out of town and have it be quiet for a change.
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    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.
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    East End Tom's Thumb x 2 & Lookout
    Great early morning hike out with @Crzy4AZ @SpiderLegs and @Barrett. We parked at the Tom's Thumb TH then scaled East End at 4067 feet. Then over to Tom's Thumb. From the Thumb @Barrett and @SpiderLegs went to explore the Tom's Thumb pseudo Ogre's Den while @Crzy4AZ and I went over to the Lookout which surprisingly I'd never been to. Then we went back up to Tom's Thumb, retrieved the guys and then made our way over to the real Ogre's Den. Pretty cool little place...

    After that Laurie went back to tend to her #tenderchickens and our day was done. Still ended up over 7 miles and almost 2400 AEG.

    Very nice to meet Barrett and excited to meet another Hieroglyphics enthusiast!
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    McDowell Loop
    My go to area when I need a workout hike or am limited in time.
    Lots of loop opportunities from 5 to 30 miles and as much AEG as you can bite off.

    Perfect weather with plenty out enjoying the day. East of the ridgeline you rarely see another. I scrambled south off of the Thompson Peak Trail to meet up with the Quartz trail. On the Quartz trail I spooked 3 mule deer that never went more than 40' from me.
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Well I took Crzy4AZ advice and skipped Tom's Thumb and head up the Lookout Trail. I was really hoping for some great views but the smog and haze put a damper on it. But from what I did see I will have to do this again on a clear day and get those awesome views.
    I had a few things to get done today so I did get a late start not that it made a difference as it was cool out and a little windy at the Lookout. There was not one person on the Lookout Trail :y: . On the way back down I could hear the people and the music coming from Tom's Thumb and just kept on going.
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This was a nice step down from Peak 5057 last week. Got there just as the sun was rising; only a handful of cars in the parking lot. The south side of the mountain is still littered with snow from New Year's day. The trail up to Tom's Thumb is very well worn with nice signs designating intersecting trails. The Lookout trail is a lot more rocky, but still not bad at all. From the Lookout you get nice views of Fountain Hills and Scottsdale. In the distance you can see Four Peaks to the North and the Superstitions to the south (there is a pointy formation that I think is Weaver's Needle, but not 100% sure).

    We decided to stop by the thumb on the way back and I'm glad we did. It's a lot bigger than it looks from a distance. I was able to climb up the west side a little bit, but didn't get too far. Fun nonetheless :)
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Date hike (kids home with babysitter) and I knew we were entering a zone of crazy summer hiking when we drove up and the parking lot was TOTALLY EMPTY at 5:12 pm. It was 106 degrees with 20% humidity. Not the best time to do this hike but when you have a babysitter you do desperate things to get your hiking time in!!

    I keep track of my time to junction with East End using my phone timer, and time tonight was 32:16 which is only one minute slower that my PB. I don't remember how long the break was at The Lookout - I just listed the moving hiking time in my stats for this post.

    I like looking down on Windgate Pass from the Lookout. And there's always a pay-off photo op at sunset from The Lookout spur of Tom's Thumb and the ridgeline. I definitely have a mountain crush on Tom's Thumb area :D

    Changed into summery dress and inhaled chicken masala at Pita Jungle with a vodka soda. Perfect perfect perfect date night.
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Date hike just the two of us - and all the Spring break/Spring training crowds are gone! Was so peaceful and unobstructed and just the crunch of my feet over and over as the only sound I heard. Saw a few people but only 4 cars at the TH when we got back.

    Got to East End junction in 34 min. Fair. Blew off the Thumb and headed for the Lookout. Sunset up here is just awesome every time.

    Wildflowers are sparse overall but some decent patches of lupine, pink fairy duster, scorpion weed, globe mallow, hedgehog cactus, and noticeably pink and puffy flat top buckwheat/Mohave buckwheat.

    For those of you that like identifying wildflowers or other flora - be sure to get a copy of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy "Wildflowers and more" by Marianne Skov Jensen (known as @ezpixels on Instagram). Great book - only $20. ISBN 9780615375380. She took all the photographs on the plaques on the Jane Rau nature trail at Brown's Ranch, and she's taken quite a few other pictures for the MSC. Her instagram feed is full of great images of desert flora and fauna and mostly in the McDowells.

    Then had a delicious meat-only dinner at Greasewood Flat. Something so satisfying about a little alcohol, sitting outside, and being a carnivore.

    lupine, pink fairy duster, scorpion weed, globe mallow, hedgehog cactus, flat-top buckwheat/Mohave buckwheat
    The Lookout from Tom's Thumb North
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Got up early (not so much) and hit the fancy schmantzy trailhead at the crack of noon. Hate to admit I've lived in the Valley for more than 20 years and never done this iconic hike. MJ had been pushing to go do this one. I have to say the scenery, on and off the trail, was worth the drive over.

    Hiked up Tom's Thumb Trail and out to the Thumb, the on to Lookout Trail and had some refreshments. Went down and then up part of the East End Trail. Took the Feldspar and Mesquite Canyon Trails back to the TH just because.

    Interesting weather with some sun and then some cloud shade with cool breezes. Hit some rain showers on the drive home. Been a weird week weather wise.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    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 Crzy4AZ on Mar 13 2014 1:28 pm
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