The rest of Thumb Butte area
While Thumb Butte is the main draw in this area, there are many other trails to explore south of Thumb Butte Road (TBR) and County Road 65. I had hiked the trails north of TBR earlier this summer and returned to the trailhead via trail #367 and noted the pines in this area had not been devastated as they were on the north side. My hiking buddy and I decided to try the south side trails and were happy we did. Using one of the forest service maps of the Thumb Butte area available next to the pay station at the trailhead, we planned a loop incorporating Thumb Butte and most of the trails on the south side. Our total distance was about 10 miles but because of the many trails and connections hikes of various lengths can be planned. I highly recommend having one of these maps with you when you explore this area. The main climbing is up Thumb Butte to begin and up trail #326 near the end. The majority of the hike other than the two climbs is over undulating terrain with partial shade in some areas. There are numerous views and the trees are generally healthy with the exception of a small area on trail #392 near its junction with #326.
We began by hiking up Thumb Butte on trail #33 keeping to the left at the beginning. This is the steeper way and gets you warmed up and breathing hard. Upon reaching the highest point on the trail (N34 32.747 W112 31.248) a spur trail to the summit goes off to the left. Continue on trail #33 to the viewpoint spur (N34 32.662 W112 31.245) and hike the short distance to the viewpoint. Back on trail #33 continue on to the junction with trail #314 (N34 32.560 W112 31.457) and turn left onto #314. Follow this trail to a T intersection with trail #326 (N34 32.427 W112 31.832). Turn left here onto #326 and follow a short distance to the junction with trail #323 (N34 32.307 W112 31.827). Turn left onto #323 and follow until it ends at trail #321 (N34 32.159 W112 31.438) Turn right here onto #321. This is a nice single track trail along and through a ravine. Trail #321 ends at a T intersection with trail #327 (N34 31.686 W112 31.688). This trail was not signed. Turn right onto trail #327 which is really a forest road. This section proved to be the most confusing. At N34 31.653 W112 31.835 trail #322 goes off to the right along with a road. Viewing the map trail #322 connects to trail #392 at #326. The road is shown to connect into #326 south of the #392/#322 junction. Here you can take either of the aforementioned routes to shorten your hike. We chose to stay on trail #327. As you hike on #327 you will pass two roads coming in from the left. There are also two roads going off to the right after you pass the trail #322 junction. These two roads are at N34 31.481 W112 32.222 and N34 31.589 W112 32.383 and dead end after a short distance. We were fooled by both of them, thinking they were the next turn. The real turn was the third road to the right after passing trail #322. It is at N34 31.618 W112 32.451, 1.2 miles from turning onto trail #327 from #321. It was unsigned. If you look back the way you came at this intersection there is a trail sign for #51. The FS map shows this as trail #326 but really appears to be a continuation of the road that turned off #327 along with trail #322. There were several campsites in this area. Turn right on this road and follow it to a signed junction with trail #326 (N34 31.860 W112 32.156) and turn left onto #326. Follow #326 to the junction with trails #392 and #322 (N34 32.069 W112 31.934) and turn left onto #392. This section gives back much of the elevation gained climbing the Butte. Trail #392 is part of the Prescott Circle Trail. Follow #392 for about 1.4 miles to its junction with trail #367 (N34 32.817 W112 32.073). Turn right here onto #367 and follow to the junction with trail #326 (N34 33.005 W112 31.548). From here you can go straight on #326 back to the parking. Or you can do as we did which was to turn right onto trail #326 and climb back up the hill for about .9 miles to the junction with trail #314 (N34 32.429 W112 31.832). This should look familiar as you passed through here in the other direction a couple of hours earlier. Turn left onto #314 and follow to the junction with trail #33 (N34 32.560 W112 31.457). Turn left onto trail #33 and follow it back to the trailhead.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
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