Tom's Thumb to Bell Pass

HARD 130 reviews
#6 of 50 trails in

Tom's Thumb to Bell Pass is a 11.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Scottsdale, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking and is best used from October until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

11.1 miles
2,906 feet

dogs on leash


mountain biking

trail running

wild flowers


4 months ago

14 miles, not 11.5. I suggest bringing extra water. I used a 2.5L bladder and also had 2 large bottles in my backpack. I had JUST enough water. There is no shade so make sure to have plenty of sunscreen.

4 months ago

We clocked 14.2 miles on this hike with a detour to Tom’s Thumb. Not really sure why we had so much more mileage, though I saw someone else got 14 miles as well. Bring a LOT of water, I had over 3L and ran out. It was warm when we did it, started at 82F and ended at 105F, and we ran out of water at around when we thought we would be ending, mile 11.5. Start early, wear sun protection. Don’t take this hike lightly.

5 months ago

Fantastic hike through the preserve. Bell Pass and East End are definitely on the steep side with most of the elevation on the hike coming in about 3 miles of trail. I clocked 12.5 miles 3018 AEG with side trip to Tom's Thumb.

5 months ago

Loved the hike! Challenging but beautiful day seeing the desert at its finest. No snakes but plenty of lizards.

6 months ago

I definitely recommend doing this hike during the colder months as you spend the majority of the trail in the sun. We went clockwise and the first half of the hike was definitely my favorite. The hike up was tough and we took a few breaks here and there to catch our breath. The view of the mountains was really beautiful and there were tons of different flowers blooming toward the peak. Unfortunately, for the second half of the trail, they were in the process of excavating it and the trail was made up of very soft rocks. Considering the distance for this hike, the soft ground made it harder to walk which tired us quicker than we were expecting. If I could redo the hike, I would have gone up and down the left side of the trail and avoided the right. Once the dirt becomes harder after more use I can imagine the second half being really nice to wak through. There were tons of yellow flowers in bloom and overall it wasn't too difficult to descend.

6 months ago

Great hike, beautiful scenery and well marked trailheads. Bring plenty of water, as it is a challenge with steep inclines and a lot of switchbacks. Well worth the 5 hours

7 months ago

A must do...
Just enjoy the views, and have fun.

7 months ago

Arrived at 6:35am to a locked gate, no sign saying when it would open and no parking at the gate area. No reviews mentioning the opening hours! Sunrise to sunset I later found out. The trail was heavily trafficked at 7:30am on a Saturday morning. The hike was absolutely gorgeous though!

7 months ago

just did the loop yesterday, taking advantage of a little cold front that just came through. Had light drizzle - it was even chilly at some points - just fabulous! Hardly anyone on the trail once you go beyond bell pass. Steep, rocky inclines but with great views and well worth it . Does take time though. Made it to Tom's Thumb in 3 hours which included stopping for lunch. Another 2.5 plus to get down. (not a trail runner!)

7 months ago

If you are looking for a great trail to practice before a big trail race, this is it. With just a little over 3k in vert, this loop can be technical and requires for you to bring lots of water. Usually very busy from the start of the Gateway trailhead, but once you pass the Gateway Loop sign, then the trail is all yours!

7 months ago

what a beautiful hike!!! it had some great views, a little too busy for my liking but it was still nice. only hiked about an hour in a half in, can't wait to do the loop though

7 months ago

Nice climb, great parking. Excellent place to rock climb without gear. Incredible views.

8 months ago

Wonderful hike if you want to stretch yourself. It took us 6 hours total We are 50+ age recreational hikers. Took 2 L of water per person and drank every drop. Having done toms thumb several times it was fun to approach from the opposite side. Get away from the crowds and take this hike!

9 months ago

Great hike. Weather was prime! 16-18 degrees c (sorry I'm Canadian). Beautiful scenery. Not many peeps on the trail once you got a few kms away from the trailhead. Really loved the connector between Tom's Thumb and Bell pass. I would say being in shape is a requirement, but it wasn't too hard. Pce.

9 months ago

10 months ago

Are you in hiking shape? Are you prepared? Then your ready to go! Enjoy varying terrain from packed trail to technical ascents and descents. You'll find the gains at at a moderate rate and only a handful of big step ups. Views are legit. Be sure to side trek over to Tom's Thumb. I ran the loop in reverse and added some distance by taking the saddle back to the head. Started shortly after sunrise and walked with the sun at my back for 2nd half. Otherwise high exposure with only a few areas to take cover. Wear a hat and bring plenty of water.

11 months ago

Other than the length of this trail, it's pretty simple. Just bring lots of water and not be hung over as hell like me and my friends were.

Monday, August 07, 2017

great place to get ready for the Grand Canyon.. Watch out for wildlife, snakes, deer, birds, and coyotes.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"This is the hike that never ends
Yes it goes on and on my friend.
Some people started hiking it
Not knowing what it was
But people kept hiking it just because...
This is the hike that never ends..."

This was very challenging due to the distance. It took me 4 hours 15 mins for the complete loop. Definitely slather on the sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring plenty of water.

Monday, April 10, 2017

This is definitely the hike you want if you are looking for a tough workout. I took the slight detour to see Tom's Thumb and my recording showed ~12 miles total for the entire day. Absolutely bring more water than you normally would.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

This is a terrific hike, but it delivered me a beat down. My track recording showed 12 miles, not 11.3 as advertised, but nevertheless I was whipped by mile 8. Lots of climbing. Bring more water than you think you need.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


Monday, March 27, 2017

It was a good hike up to tom's thumb from gateway access area, I then took east gate around to bell pass to loop around a little longer then I planned for my day. Completed a little over 14 miles, but I was done at 10 miles and could longer enjoy my hike and just wanted it to be over, but I'd still do it again just not too soon.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Great views! Excellent challenge!

Over prepare, bring extra water- 2L+

trail running
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

This trail has some really fantastic views and is definitely worth your time. Keep in mind though that this trail is very steep in places and extremely rocky. Would be great for hiking but I ran it and it was pretty rough since it was so rocky. I can't even imagine trying to do this on a mountain bike, yikes. If you are going to run this just plan on a slow time and enjoy yourself, it is definitely a trail you should do if you live in the area. Check out Tom's Thumb as it is only a few tenths of a mile off the main loop. Take some extra water and some solid shoes and you will have fun on this one.

Friday, February 10, 2017

It was a good hike. Tough but so worth it!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I have done it twice. one of my favorite hike. make sure to go with friends, as you can get lost as not good direction.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My number one favorite trail in all time. Very easy for me, maybe because i went this place so many times.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

I really like this trail. The hike is moderate. What makes it hard is the length of the hike if you're not in great shape. If you're in great shape it's a good workout.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

great hike

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