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Lost Wall Loop - McDowell Mountains, AZ

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Guide 16 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NE
3.3 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Distance One Way 4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,809 feet
Elevation Gain 1,098 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,360 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.53
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
13  2019-01-25
Lost Wall Loop Plus
15  2019-01-11
Tom's Thumb Trail - MSP
9  2018-12-07
Lost Wall Loop - extended version - MSP/MMRP
4  2018-12-07
Tom's Thumb Loop
11  2018-10-26
Toms Thumb-Windgate-Windmill-East End - MSP
6  2018-09-21
Hog Heaven Lost Wall Loop - MSP
3  2018-07-04
Lost Wall Loop plus - MSP
5  2018-06-29
Lost Wall Loop - extended version - MSP/MMRP
Page 1,  2
Author cherieb
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 2
Photos 12
Trips 0 map ( 0 miles )
Age Female Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
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Preferred   Mar, Feb, Nov, Jan
Sun  6:10am - 6:34pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
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This 4 mile loop hike has a lot of wilderness feel for something so close into the Valley of the Sun. Because it arrives on a high ridgeline in the McDowell Mountains it gives some of the best Valley views around.

Begin at the Tom’s Thumb Trail Head and hike about half a mile to the intersection with the Feldspar Trail and then a short distance forward to trail marker TT3 (Waypoint #1 on the associated map). To do the trail counter-clockwise, which some consider better footing on the steeper sections leading up to Lost Wall, turn right/west at this sign on the signed Climber Access Route.

The trail continues across the large wash past an old tank and well (Waypoint #2). Once across the flat wash area begin a slow rising ascent on a low ridge toward the steeper hillside right of Tom’s Thumb. Because the route follows a Climber Access Route and the routes are designed to be minimal list while still keep parties on the designated paths, the occasional use of flagging and cairns are permitted by the City, especially in spots where the trail becomes obscure.

At Waypoint #3 the trail tops out above the climbing crag named Fort McDowell and continues up a broad ridgeline to Waypoint #4 where the access to the climbing crag Half and Half Wall is signed. Continue scrambling uphill through steeper sections and following gullies to the top of the hill and the signed Waypoint#5 which is the access to the climbing crag Lost Wall. If you feel like it scramble to the left across some boulders to arrive at the top of the cliff which drops off under your feet. Be careful not to trip on the rappel bolt anchors at your feet! The views back toward the Tom’s Thumb Trail Head are stunning and the large flat summit makes this a great rest stop.

A short distance further a clear view of the City is achieved (Waypoint #6) and you walk along the ridgeline east southeasterly. Great views are had to the north and to the south. At one point you drop onto the south side and scramble up through some boulders on the trail to reach a point on the ridge line again west of Tom’s Thumb (Waypoint #7). The west side of Tom’s Thumb is less visited than the east by “tourists” so enjoy the views before dropping down to the south again and returning to the ridgeline east of Tom’s Thumb.

At this point you will be reversing what most hikers take as the climb to Tom’s Thumb. Head along the now more crowded and well used trail easterly. Waypoint #8 marks climbing crag signage for Slip and Slide and Waypoint #9 marks signage the intersection with the main official Tom’s Thumb Trail. Turn left/east at this junction and follow past the point Waypoint #10 with signage for Glass Dome.

Waypoint #11 is the intersection with the official City Trail called the East End Trail. Continue northeasterly on the Tom’s Thumb Trail. Waypoint #12 is the intersection with an unmarked Climber Access Route to East End. A looped trail called, Hog Heaven Loop - McDowell Mountains, AZ departs from the Tom’s Thumb Trail at Waypoint #12. For a great 6-mile loop you can combine the Lost Wall Loop hike described herein with the Hog Heaven Loop at this point.

If returning on the Lost Wall Loop to the Tom’s Thumb Trail Head continue on the Tom’s Thumb Trail northerly. You will descend two significant hillside sections with Waypoint #13 marking the Climber Access Route to Gardeners Wall more or less at the bottom of the first steep section. Waypoint #1 is at the bottom of the second steep section and your point of origin for the Loop.

Tom’s Thumb Trail is followed north a short distance to the Tom’s Thumb Trail Head and parking lot.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2014-11-15 cherieb

    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 Triplog Reviews
    Lost Wall Loop - McDowell Mountains
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    This is a cool little hike in the McDowells, and it is more difficult than the distance and AEG would suggest. There is one ascent where you go up past Hog Heaven to the Thumbnail that goes up 750 feet in 1/2 mile -- this section will remind you a little bit of going up Flatiron.

    We started at the Tom's Thumb TH and went up Mesquite Canyon on a hiker access route. I noticed from a triplog that KBKB had climbed up the Sven Tower I climber crag, so we did that, and I am glad that we did. There are some cool views of Marcus Landslide from that vantage point. After that we followed the Hog Heaven Loop up to the Thumbnail, and from there went across the ridgeline to East End. If you go hiking in the McDowell's, why not go to the high point in the range! From there we made a descent (first to the north, and then to the west) down to the Tom's Thumb Trail. From there we picked up the Lost Wall Loop and made our way over to Tom's Thumb, and continued the loop west of Tom's Thumb and eventually made our way down to the Tom's Thumb trail and back to the TH.

    This is probably my favorite little hike in the McDowells!
    Lost Wall Loop - McDowell Mountains
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Hog Heaven / Lost Wall Loop
    For Friday's hike, Kay and I hiked a combination of the Hog Heaven Loop and the Lost Wall Loop.

    We started off by hiking Marcus Landslide and then turned right onto Feldspar. Just off the trail and to the left are some low angle (third class) slabs which lead to the top of Sven Tower I. We summited there and then continued on the climber's access trail leading past Sven Towers II and III. This soon joined the standard route for the Hog Heaven Loop. We hiked past Hog Heaven and the Thumbnail Pinnacle and the continued onto the East End (summit) where we also went to that summit.

    Continuing on, we descended the climber's access trail to Tom's Thumb Trail. From there, we hiked over to (and then on) the oft used climber's access trail going to Tom's Thumb. We continued past Tom's Thumb and then down past Lost Wall, Half & Half Wall and the Fort McDowell climbing areas. This eventually led us back to Tom's Thumb Trail and then back to the parking lot.

    The route is only about five miles, but it's (IMO) some quality hiking. I think this is my favorite route in the area.
    Lost Wall Loop - McDowell Mountains
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I led a group of seven on a hike starting from the Tom's Thumb Trailhead on Friday the 16th.

    In addition to doing the Lost Wall Loop, we visited the Lookout and, after descending Tom's Thumb Trail, we turned off onto Feldspar. We hiked a short ways on Marcus Landslide and returned via the Caballo Trail.

    The climber's access trail that forms part of the Lost Wall Loop was firmed up by the rain that we had several days earlier. This trail normally has some really loose sections, but this wasn't really a problem for our hike on Friday.

    I don't hike the Lookout Trail very often, so we added it into the mix. After doing the ridge over to and past Tom's Thumb, the Lookout is kind of anticlimactic. It was cool to be able to look down at Windgate Pass though.
    Lost Wall Loop - McDowell Mountains
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Sara, Linda, and I hike a little over five miles in the Tom's Thumb Area. Starting from Tom's Thumb Trailhead, we hiked Tom's Thumb Trail to the first climber's access trail on the right. We hiked this trail up to the ridge, past Tom's Thumb, and then back down to Tom's Thumb Trail. We then made our way down the climber's access trail which leads past Gardener's Wall which eventually led us back to Tom's Thumb Trail again. We then turned right on Feldspar, and right on Marcus Landslide where we stopped to look at a mushroom rock that's near where the old parking lot was for climbing at Sven Slab. I then showed Sara and Linda the climbs on the Hawk/Energizer Boulder. (We just looked; we didn't do them.) After that, we returned to the Marcus Landslide Trail, where we almost immediately turned left on the Caballo Trail which we took back to the parking area.

    We saw a tarantula as we descended Tom's Thumb Trail. We saw five deer, one with a tracking collar, on the Caballo Trail.
    Lost Wall Loop - McDowell Mountains
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    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.
    Lost Wall Loop - McDowell Mountains
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Three of us (Bob, Nora, and I) hiked this route with an extension leading past Tom's Thumb and then NW along the ridgeline using the climber's access trail leading back to the Tom's Thumb trail.

    This is my favorite hiking route in the McDowells. It is steep and loose with sections of scrambling. The views are awesome and, aside from brief sections spent on the Tom's Thumb Trail, is largely devoid of traffic.

    Recent rain in the area made the trail a little less loose than normal.

    On this particular hike, we heard bees - possibly from a beehive - just after gaining the ridge that leads to the East End (summit). We backed off and found a way around the bees.

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    Map Drive

    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 joebartels on Nov 15 2014 8:30 pm
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