dogs on leash
This was my first Arizona hike back in 2016 October. We got out midday so the sun was high and this trail does not boast a lot of shady spots. We went about halfway in then turned and came back instead of looping the full way around. It was quite dull, flat and easy, nothing spectacular to see and nothing at the end to reach as an end goal. If you haven't been to the desert this is a nice introduction to desert flora and hiking in the sun.
I'd love to hear if anyone has recently hiked this loop as it is mapped. I attempted it on March 10 in a clockwise direction. The section on the mapped trail from the northernmost point (on Tom's Thumb trail) southeast to Windgate trail is no longer a trail in this park. There are vestiges, but it did not appear that anyone has hiked that section in quite some time. I was unable to follow the former trail, and had to backtrack down the Tom's Thumb trail. I suggest that this loop be removed from AllTrails. A similar loop that uses trails that actually exist here is the Gateway - Bell Pass - Windgate Loop Trail.
Did Gateway and Tom's Thumb Loop Trail today. I had been to Tom's Thumb before, but not this way The trail starts in far North Scottsdale off of Thompson Peak Parkway. When I was a kid, we lived at 84th Street and Shea, and back then that was as far north as Scottsdale went. Now, that's more like mid-town Scottsdale. Alas, that's progress. I arrived today just before sunup at around 6 am and there were already lots of cars present. I headed off on the Gateway Trail, continued to Windgate, and then took off on the Tom's Thumb trail. I did not travel up Windgate, but I will probably go back to do that. You might say I cheated because I hiked only about 5.75 miles until I came within sight of Tom's Thumb, and then turned around and headed back. Still, 11 1/2 miles is not too bad and I saw plenty. My hike topped out at 3542 feet where there was a cool wind blowing. I was glad I had on a long sleeve tee shirt! I paid the price for climbing up that far. There were switchbacks, but that was still a climb of over 2000 feet. The trail is mostly well groomed although in spots it took on the look of wilderness. About midway through there is a fragrant pool of standing water and a little stream. The pool is filled with tall reeds and it's very popular with the bees. The trail was quite busy today. I went alone and I was alone for most of the hike, but I probably passed 30 other hikers going up and down. Near the end there were mountain bikes at the lower elevations. I somehow made a wrong turn on the way down and I wound up walking extra far to get back to the car. I made it anyway, and I was very pleased. Hiking in the McDowell Mountains is excellent.
What a beautiful trail. Not too busy. Im not very happy with the 2 older lady horseback riders who literally demanded I stop for them sooner than I did. Total Divas. Queens are for England, not America! But, it was a Great workout. Just when you're about fatigued, you get some great downhill speed and maneuvering. Highly recommend.