McDowell Mountain Rim to Rim

HARD 6 reviews
#27 of 49 trails in

McDowell Mountain Rim to Rim is a 13.8 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Scottsdale, Arizona and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and trail running and is accessible year-round.

13.8 miles
3,346 feet
Point to Point


trail running


no dogs

3 months ago

Started the hike at 6am. @ the south end - Sunrise Trailhead. Took us a little more than 6 hours. Once we hit the EastEnd we were spent. Defiantly toughest part of the trail. Sunrise, Sonoran & Dixie Mine are beautiful trails and are not difficult. But at the about the 11th mile it became very challenging. We saw lots of blooming cactus and a desert tortoise. Great hike for experienced hikers or those wanting a challenge. We logged it at 14.2 miles.

5 months ago

Trail would be a lot better if it wasn't littered with loud, scarcely clothed people. Scottsdale residents.

5 months ago

Completed 02/17/18 using the following route as there are multiple ways one can do this hike. 136th St Spur to Sunrise to Andrews Kinsey to Western Loop to Upper Sonoran Trail to Dixie Mine to Coachwhip to Windmill to East End to Tombs Thumb. Total was 15.2 miles 3850 feet of gain. Fantastic hike to see the changes in the desert and terrain along the way. Going up East End at the very end is a pretty taxing climb that late into the hike.

trail running
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

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 :)

7 months ago