Explore McDowell Mountains - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Beautiful views. A little bit of a challenge but well worth it.

hiking
4 days ago

By far the best marked trail I have ever hiked and the most well maintained. There are many hills for photo opportunities are you head to the Thumb". If you are feeling a little more adventurous, look for the Miner's Cave and The Ogre's Den (not accessible), those were 2 cool additions I found during this hike.

walking
5 days ago

Amazing! This easy scenic hike is something everyone should do at least once. The rock formations are so unique and this is an outing even young families will enjoy. During December, there are sign posts with the 12 days of Christmas, Arizona-desert style marking the first 1/4 mile of the route. Very easy and well maintained trail!

hiking
7 days ago

Hiked this about a month ago and the weather was (and still is) perfect. The first half on the way up is challenging and steep, but after that it's pretty easy climbing to the summit. Would definitely recommend using the lookout points to catch your breath and drink lots of water. This probably wouldn't be where I take a novice for a first hike. The views were absolutely incredible though! Most of the trail is in the sun. Would say it's moderately trafficked and well-marked, I doubt anyone could get lost. The parking lot is right at the trailhead, with restrooms and water; the park is really clean and well-maintained. Definitely plan on coming back soon!

rock climbing
7 days ago

Up, up and up some more. With all the climbing you earn the views.

Nice trail, great views, elevation gain not too bad. Only drawback is trail can get rocky in places.

hiking
7 days ago

I love this trail. This trail has lots plants and bushes which makes it dense.

Nice hike but very busy. Beautiful views. Easy to moderate hike.

hiking
8 days ago

A great workout with beautiful views all along the way. This is a gravel trail with good inclines so you can definitely break in your trekking poles. Reaching Tom’s Thumb felt very accomplishing and was well worth the hike. Very friendly people on the trail. Bring plenty of water. I will hike this again!

It was a beautiful hike! Some very steep incline and loose rocks. Definitely a challenge.

Wow, this has to be the prettiest trail in the Phoenix area. The rocks are amazing! But wow, what a climb! Kicked my butt! 4.2 miles took me 3 hours. 2 hours up, 20 minute rest on top and 40 minutes down. But what breathtaking views!

hiking
11 days ago

A nice challenge to get more difficulty & length than the Gateway Loop. It’s a steady incline for a while until you get to the switchbacks. Although it is steep, there is no “climbing” using your hands so it’s not as hard as other trails. I only saw 8 people today on this trail (after you get past the loop), so that was magical! Took me 3 hours which included a couple of breaks to enjoy views and a snack at the top. Def need good hiking shoes as this is rocky!

hiking
11 days ago

This trail did not disappoint! I am in decent shape and huffed and puffed up this sucker...lots of stops to enjoy the scenery” aka catch my breath, but the views going up and at the top are 100% worth it! I chose this over Camelback for a Sunday afternoon and it could not have been more perfect! Highly recommended!

Tougher at start but lightens up. Views are wonderful!

hiking
14 days ago

Great views. Starts out with incline but then levels out during second half of the ascent.

hiking
14 days ago

Very doable trail with beautiful views. You do not get to go to the peak ( can go with climbing gear) which was a little disappointing but overall very nice.

So much fun for a quick hike

It’s easy if you are used to hiking, you will still break a sweat but it didn’t justify the amount of food we ate after

Loved

on Tom's Thumb Trail

17 days ago

Awesome! Well marked trail with so much natural beauty. Really good workout with lots to see. We made frequent stops so we could soak it all in. Highly recommended!

hiking
17 days ago

Challenging hike for beginners but definitely doable if you take regular breaks. This is one of the prettiest hikes we’ve done in the Phx area. The views are stunning and you’ll be so glad you did it. A little tricky coming down due to the loose gravel but if you take your time it’s fine.

hiking
18 days ago

Lovely simple hike. Used to do this every week, pushing my son up the trail in his stroller. Beautiful views, but not a REAL hike. More of a nice walk with a little elevation. Tough rock climbing to the peak though. I highly recommend it

hiking
19 days ago

Great hike even with those that aren’t the strongest hikers. 95% of the hike is paved - it was pretty heavily hiked during the morning hours on a Saturday in Spring.

Watch out for the rattlesnakes! We had one sitting right in the middle of the trail on our way back down.

Great trail with beautiful views. Minus one star because the staff is a bit condescending and rude.

Nice family trail. Our first Scottsdale hike 4 years ago!

hiking
21 days ago

I'm a pretty mild hiker; my pup and I go out every weekend to a new trail and explore. We just did this trail yesterday and it was incredible. We had to stop multiple (six or seven) times for water and breaks - elevation gain and the steepness of the terrain made it difficult for us to not stop. That being said, it took us about two hours to get to Tom's Thumb and it was completely worth it. The views were incredible, and we even got to watch a couple guys rock climb to the very top of Tom's Thumb. We took about a half hour break before jogging our way back - the whole trip took about three hours. Bring plenty of water and be ready for a leg workout! This hike is definitely worth it!

hiking
22 days ago

Family of 4 from Oklahoma (kids 7 & 10) made it to the top and back down. It was a tough climb up but totally worth the gorgeous views from the top! This is a must hike for visitors!

For an intermedite trail, you get your money's worth.

Be ready for a workout.

hiking
22 days ago

Hardly any signs or markings once you get on Bell Pass to help you gauge where you’re at, and there’s no clear summit or stopping point to turn around if you just want to go out and back. But beautiful views, not crowded, and overall decent hike. Plenty of parking. Took over 2 hrs.

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