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.
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.