Tom's Thumb Trail to Lookout

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McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Tom's Thumb Trail to Lookout is a 4.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Scottsdale, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from October until May. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.9 miles Elevation Gain: 1,374 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

walking

bird watching

running

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no shade

12 days ago

One of the better, harder trails this side of Scottsdale. Slippery going down

hiking
no shade
2 months ago

Great trail, steeper than expected and a good challenge to get done in a few hours. A number of runners were on the trail so you had pay attention.

Beautiful views and scenery. It’s steep right from the get-go and then levels a bit towards the middle of the hike. The Toms Thumb trail is gravel and sand which is a nice change from many of the super rocky trails in the Sonoran preserve. The lookout trail is more rocky and less travelled. Saw a giant snake on lookout trail- be sure to keep an eye out. Coming back was a little nerve-wracking with such steep inclines down sandy paths. Fair amount of people out and about, but not as crowded as some of the more family-friendly trails.

hiking
no shade
3 months ago

3 months ago

Relatively tough but really solid hike despite being pretty short. Great views. Really enjoyed it.

hiking
4 months ago

Awesome tough trail. Great views all the way and beautiful vista at the peak

hiking
4 months ago

4.5. Hiked with Mary. Trails well maintained and signed. Beautiful views. Massive boulders. Totality of the hike was Tom’s Thumb, then Lookout point, then on the way back down we split off to Feldspar to Marcos Landslide to parking lot.

hiking
4 months ago

Really enjoyed this hike! Good challenge first 45 mins of steady elevation then variable up and down. Very well marked and stunning views! Took us 3 hours with one 15 min sit down break and lots of short catch your breath rests

hiking
rocky
5 months ago

hiking
no shade
6 months ago

I tried this yesterday with my boyfriend. It has a near constantly incline for a least a mile of the hike. We weren’t able to finish it due to that. It is much harder than anticipated and there weren’t any places to sit down and catch your breath. I’ve heard it gets easier once you get further, so we will probably go back to try again! Views are beautiful, and the path is clear with many signs to help you along the way.

hiking
no shade
rocky
8 months ago

Me and my two girl (9YO & 5YO) attempted this hike today (09.14.19) it turned into a hot day and we stoped where ever there was shade, which was very limited. We made it to the Vulture View Scenic Point which is about halfway as it was another mile to the lookout. It was all uphill with lots of switchbacks. We had a 2L hydration backpack each, which came in great use; take lots of water and snacks too!! We turned around due to a thunderstorm warning and good thing we did as there was lightning and strong wind towards the end. There is a nice clean pavilion with bathrooms and maps to take so you know what trail you’re on. Each post is an emergency spot so if you need to call for help you are able to let them know what post you’re at - overall great scenery!!

hiking
Tue Apr 23 2019

Great trail lots of pretty flowers and scenery. Saw lots of lizards and quite a few snakes.

Sun Apr 07 2019

Absolutely beautiful! The flowers are in full bloom!

hiking
Sat Mar 30 2019

Tackled this one today. The first 45 minutes or so are a killer getting up the mountain. However, after that it’s not bad at all! Very windy today! We went early morning. Was getting pretty busy when we headed down around 9:30.

Sat Mar 23 2019

great hike...had 8 mule deer run across the trail in front of us right near the end of lookout trail

hiking
Fri Mar 22 2019

Combined it with Toms Thumb. Great views. We had a perfect day

hiking
Tue Mar 05 2019

Fantastic hike with amazing vistas! It was not as difficult as I imagined it to be, plus the trails are not as rocky as others in the MSP.

hiking
Fri Jan 11 2019

Beautiful views away from the crowds of the Thumb!

hiking
Sun Jan 06 2019

Awesome hike. Mostly all up hill with switch backs. Beautiful views.

hiking
Mon Dec 31 2018

It was a great hike. Good workout.

Sat Nov 24 2018

Loved this trail.

hiking
Mon Nov 19 2018

Nice hike which is family and dog friendly. Quick ascent at the beginning gets the blood flowing. Nice views at the top with areas to relax for a bit.

hiking
Tue Apr 03 2018

A really nice trailhead and most of the trail is sand/gravel, which can be slippery coming down. I wore Brooks Cascadia trail running shoes and didn’t slip once. The trail starts off with a slight upward climb, but then gets pretty steep a half mile in. It’s not as steep at the higher elevations. The trail to The Lookout was more rocky and narrow. I saw only one other person. Great hike.

hiking
Tue Mar 27 2018

Nice alternative/addition to Tom's Thumb. You share majority of trail with Tom's Thumb so it's busy, but a lot less crowed at the lookout and a great view.

Thu Mar 01 2018

The toughest stretch is right at the beginning with about 1,000 feet of gain in a little more than a mile. From the start, though, the views are rewarding. There’s a cool cut through a little canyon where you’re surrounded by boulders worn smooth over millions of years. I actually liked the vistas from The Lookout better than what you find at Camelback. We made the top around 10 a.m. and were all by ourselves.

hiking
Fri Feb 02 2018

Once you've visited the Thumb, you have to make a side-trip to the Lookout! It's only a little further and not quite so crowded. It's not very hard. The views are quite nice from this vantage point. You can look down upon Windgate Pass and survey other peaks in the area, such as Drinkwater and Thompson Peaks. Very scenic!

We started this trail mid-morning and glad we did! The trail is exposed, except for patches of shade along the northeast facing switchbacks at the beginning of this trail. The trail travels up and down the granite boulder, mountain ridge toward Tom’s Thumb monolith. We had our lunch break in the cool boulder cave just before Tom’s Thumb. Continuing on the Lookout Trail, we were in awe to see the east side views, towards Fountain Hills with the fountain spouting from the park lake and Weaver’s Needle rock in the far distance. The Scottsdale airport, PGA golf course and Pinnacle Peak were obvious landmarks on the west side view. At the end of the Lookout Point Trail were beautiful painted rocks and boulders which you can admire the many colorful layers of rock and desert varnish. The downward hike can be a challenge with some loose gravel in some areas near the switchbacks. By the time we reached the trailhead as the temperature got hotter mid afternoon and being out in the sun for this four hour hike, I finished two liters of water! Free parking. Multi stalled outhouse at the trailhead, no running water. Lots of information at the trailhead shelter.

hiking
Sat Oct 07 2017

Love this view!

hiking
Sun Sep 24 2017

This was a fun, fairly basic trail. A little bit of an incline on the beginning switchbacks but not bad. Much of the trail is loose gravel. We arrived before the gates opened but glad we did as we came back and the lots were pretty full.

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