wild flowers

trail running

dogs on leash

nature trips


mountain biking



kid friendly

Very well marked, lots of wildlife, and easy for all skill levels. The geology is really cool, too!

4 days ago

trail running
9 days ago

One day I decided to just make this one up. I've run every inch of the McDowell preserve so for me this was just something I sort of had to do. This is an entire Rim to Rim from the South Sunrise trail head all the way to the North Tom's Thumb parking lot. It claims 14.3 on here but my trail watch put it more like 16.7. You're almost on the Fountain Hills side of the preserve the entire way. You breach a peak at Scottsdale only on Sunrise peak and then again on Tom's Thumb. There's also a way to do it on the Scottsdale side which I've been meaning to do ran out of cooler weather this year so that will be another review. Essentially the trail is Sunrise trail head to sunrise peak....come down the north side of the peak and you'll get to the horse tie off at the junction between the Andrews Kinsey and the Sunrise trail down to Lost Dog. Take Andrews Kinsey until it meets the Sonoran trail.....the Sonoran trail to Dixie Mine which then eventually catches the road up Thompson peak. A little jaunt up the road leads you to Prospector Trail which ascends to meet Bell's pass just south of the pass. Keep going north to the junction of where you can choose to go up East End (the backside of Tom's Thumb) or up Windgate. Go up East End and it's like a different planet. Word to the wise: If Mountain Lions live in the McDowell's East End is definitely their home. Then once you summit East End you're at Tom's Thumb and you can run down to the trail head....and hopefully your ride back is waiting :)

We hiked for a total of 11 miles in four hours. We didn't follow this trail exactly, as we hooked onto Tom's Thumb Trail earlier than the map shows. As a result, we only did 11 miles rather than the 12.5 as this trail map shows. However, we were sufficiently tired and I'm glad we didn't do the extra 1.5 miles. GPS showed 2,500 feet of elevation gain. Beautiful trail and very lightly used. We only saw about five groups of people the whole way up and halfway down until we were back on Gateway, which is heavily used. We started at 5:20 AM to beat the heat but it was an unusually cool day (about 85 degrees at 9:30 AM) and were shaded by the mountains the whole way up, which made the hike very pleasant. Terrain is varied throughout-rocky, sandy, forested, and red clay. Definitely carry a lot of water, as it is a long hike. Sturdy shoes will definitely help as well, as it is quite rocky (not used often) and long. Overall, it was a great hike and exhausting!

11 days ago

Beautiful hike.
Amazing view at the top.
More than a "moderate" hike.
Take water! None available even at the trail head.
Nesting Falcons kept us from the very last 50 feet. Sorta cool.
2 hrs 40 minutes up and back.
50 minutes back from the top.
We would recommend this hike!

I felt this trail deserves a rating of difficult simply because the incline was like a 10 pretty much the whole time. Nice challenge and beautiful scenery and wildflowers/cacti sprinkled here and there.

11 days ago

Nice trail. A little busy, but I really like the trail.

A short yet tough hike! Make sure you bring plenty of water. A pretty amazing view from the top for not too much of an elevation gain.

13 days ago