Easiest Climb to the Rim
The Thomas Point Trail is the second trail of the five trails climbing the east side of Oak Creek Canyon. Further south, you'll find the Purtymun Trail and to the north you have the Telephone Trail, Harding Spring Trail and Cookstove Trail in this order. Like the Purtymun Trail, the Thomas Point Trail is named after the family who built it originally. Even though both trails climb the east side of Oak Creek Canyon, the are very different trails. The Purtymun Trail gives the appearance of being built by masochists who enjoyed incredibly steep climbs. The Thomas Point Trail, on the other hand, appears to be built by people who believed in minimizing the stress of climbing a steep canyon side. I find the Thomas Point Trail to be the most comfortable trail of the five trails. There is no getting around that you climb more than a thousand feet in a bit over a mile, but you do it at a steady rate with only a very few short, steep sections.
If you've parked your car at the south side of the parking area, you'll see the large trailhead sign for Westfork on the right (southwest). The wide Westfork trail starts there. A hundred feet or so to the left of the Westfork sign, you should be able to spot an unmarked faint trail heading south through the orchard past the picnic tables. This is the beginning of the Thomas Point Trail. Follow this trail as it works it way towards the highway where it ends at the guard rails. Step over the guard rails (check for traffic!) and cross the highway. You'll see the trail continue on the elevated shoulder along the highway. Follow the trail for several hundred feet, dropping down once to road level for a short bit, then back up onto the elevated shoulder.
You'll get to one of the rusty trail marker signs "Thomas Point #142." The trail finally leaves the highway and starts climbing moderately right away, heading south. At the first switchback, a secondary trail goes off to the right (south -- don't take that one) and one switches back to the north and up. The left one is the one you want to take. Continue hiking up about three or four switchbacks in a shady pine forest. The only irritant is the noise from the still too close highway.
After the initial switchbacks, the trail starts a long traverse south, climbing steadily. Hiking is comfortable because you're in the shade and the traverse isn't too steep. After a quarter mile or so, the forest gets thinner and you're in the open. There still aren't any great views (other than the opposite canyon side) because the scrub is pretty high.
The long traverse south comes to an end as the trail turns a corner towards the east. From now on you'll be hiking on the north side of the north branch of Surveyors Canyon until you get to the top. You have great views looking south into Oak Creek Canyon. The canyon side is south facing, rocky and covered with low scrub. It can get pretty hot on this stretch because there is no shade except under one or two Alligator Junipers. The rock is mostly brilliantly white. It looks like limestone, but I think it's sand stone. I find it visually very attractive, but you're getting broiled both the bottom and the top. The trail heads mostly east (and up) with occasionaly some rocky steps to clear. After a while you'll clear another corner and will be heading northeast (and up) for a bit, then some some switchbacks and a short stretch to the west (and up), some more switchbacks and finally a longish easterly traverse leading to the top of the ridge. All the way you'll have great views south. During the final few hundred yards, you'll leave the white rock and enter the black basalt area. The brush is much higher at this point, so you'll lose the great views south. Just below the top, the trail enters a pine forest again and curves around some big basalt boulders that make up the tip of Thomas Point.
Once on top, the terrain is basically flat with open pine forest. Initially, the views are great to the south, but trees obscure the north. Hike inland a bit, following the obvious trail until you come to a great view point to the north and the San Francisco Peaks. I consider this the end of Thomas Point trail.
The trail however continues as a rough logging road that's being used by ATVs. You can connect to the Telephone Trail from here, but I don't recommend it unless you've hiked it at least once the other way. The turn-off to the Telephone Trail is very hard to spot because there isn't really a trail.
Coconino FS Reports This is the southernmost of three trails that climb to the east rim of Oak Creek Canyon. Of the three, it offers the broadest and most varied views. However, it is also the hottest and longest. The Thomas Point Trail starts in a mixed conifer forest characteristic of Arizona canyons but quickly breaks out into more open chapparal. Above this point, vistas are broad and impressive with good views both down canyon, toward Sedona and the crimson bluffs near Slide Rock, and cross canyon to the steep cliffs of one of Oak Creek's largest tributaries, West Fork Canyon.
If you chose to continue all the way to the top, the trail winds through the manzanita and scrub oak to the canyon rim where you'll be rewarded with a nice view of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, about thirty miles away.
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.