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MSP Gateway Windgate Toms Thumb, AZ
mini location map2015-01-19
18 by photographer avatarrayhuston
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MSP Gateway Windgate Toms Thumb, AZ 
MSP Gateway Windgate Toms Thumb, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 19 2015
Hiking13.77 Miles 3,305 AEG
Hiking13.77 Miles   6 Hrs   11 Mns   2.53 mph
3,305 ft AEG      45 Mns Break
1st trip
Nice double loop in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. I wanted to scope out a couple of hikes for my wife and eat some miles along the way. The Gateway Loop and Tom's Thumb recreation area were the spots I had in mind. I started off at the Gateway trailhead, checked out the very nice facilities, talked with the park attendant for awhile, took some pictures, then headed out.

I turned left at the start of the Gateway loop and headed for Tom's Thumb. I would close the Gateway loop on the return. The route to Tom's Thumb is a good thigh burn for anyone interested in a nice, steady climb. The park's routes are well maintained with nice switchbacks for the steeper sections.

Checked out the Tom's Thumb area and had a snack. This is a very busy area with its own trailhead very close by. I went off trail in search of seclusion, climbed over some boulders, between some others, under another and found a nice spot to eat while watching the nonstop stream of people heading to and from the object of their trip. While I sat there, a couple of teenage girls passed by in search of "The Ogre's Den." I never heard of it, so couldn't help them.

After lunch, I continued on my way. At the junction of Tom's Thumb and the East End trail, I saw a use trail going straight ahead. I followed it and came to a cave that looked lived in. A cot, a table with a lamp, some utensils and a cabinet with a Santa's cap on it. Could this be the Ogre's Den? Or did I just happen upon someone's "home?" Either way, time to move on.

Took the East End trail to Windgate Pass trail and headed up to Windgate Pass. Along this section, I walked uphill into a smoggy breeze, something I hadn't experienced on the trails in AZ until now. Yuck. Must be too close to the city.

As I approached the Gateway Loop on the return, I met a nice lady who had stopped to admire a view. We exchanged greetings and chatted for a moment. As I started on my way again, she offered me an apple slice. I looked at the baggy filled with apple chunks and noticed a brown tint. The slices were covered in cinnamon! She said the cinnamon preserves the apple and adds a nice spicy flavor. Yum! And still very juicy. I'll have to try that sometime.

After 10+ miles, I reached the Gateway junction and closed the loop on the primary hike I came to scout for my wife, who had to work :( . This is a very popular loop. Not as busy as Tom's Thumb, but there was a steady stream of walkers and runners. Nice loop. I think she'll like it.

I saw one cyclist all day :D . Didn't see many people between the Gateway Loop and Tom's Thumb. Good workout hike on a beautiful day.
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