Tom's Thumb Via North Side Loop Trail

MODERATE 42 reviews
#12 of 48 trails in

Tom's Thumb Via North Side Loop Trail is a 3.9 mile moderately trafficked loop 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 March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

3.9 miles
1154 feet

dogs on leash



nature trips

trail running




wild flowers


Tom's Thumb is the prominent granite bump in the McDowell Mountain preserve. Easily visible from the Scottsdale area, Tom's Thumb Trail from the north side provides some great views of Phoenix as well as looking out toward Four Peaks and Weavers Needle. The trail is very well manicured and is a great hike except for some steep elevation gains.

23 days ago

This is one of my favorite hikes in the Phoenix area. It’s very well maintained and they encourage people to pick up after their dogs which is much appreciated!

The hike has a little bit of everything. The first quarter mile is an easy stretch out to a steep ascent that’s a good challenge. The next mile or so is more moderate as you make your way to Tom’s Thumb.

There are some beautiful views! It is well traveled but doesn’t feel congested. The path is pretty wide. We look forward to trying some of the trails that connect to it.

2 months ago

Once we reached Tom's Thumb we could not find the trail around the backside, not marked at all. Had to return the same way we came up.

2 months ago

Nice trail for family. Be careful to stay on the loop, and not go on East End extension.

2 months ago

The first half of the trail up to Tom’s Thumb had high elevation gains and was fairly steep and intense. Behind the thumb and down the other side was not marked and very difficult and involved climbing over many rocks with very steep down grades. The GPS was great to use and worked well. It was really neat but should be considered difficult as often times I had to use my hands and sit on my butt to get down.

3 months ago

Great hike..trail is a bit hard to find and navigate on the backside of Toms thumb- but it is totally worth it!

3 months ago

Quite difficult on the return as you move pass Tom’s Thumb. Hard to find the trail at times but you will very likely be by yourself on this second half of the loop. Many people on the first half who basically go to thumb and then return back the same way.
Some beautiful views along the way.

4 months ago

Toms Thumb is a moderate to difficult trail in the McDowell Preserve. Though it is a bit of a hike (no pun intended) to get out there it is well worth the drive. Once you arrive at the shared trail head you will find ample parking and no-flush restroom facilities.

The hike itself is absolutley beautiful and offers rare unimpeded views of beautiful desert landscapes from within the city limits. The first mile or so does include switch-backs of various difficulty so boots are recommended but 3+ liters of water is mandatory. The terrain flattens out, eventually winding down into a small gulley and then back up to the actual Thumb.

To get to the Thumb itself you must follow a relatively primitive but very obvious "Climbing Access Trail" for about a quarter if a mile. I highly reccommend this added bit to see the thumb up close. On cool winter days one can often sit and watch trad climbers scale the 60ft summit block.

10 months ago

Nice hike up to the top and back. Many, many different wildflowers were in full bloom. Beautiful views from the top. I would rate the hike as difficult!

11 months ago

Great morning challenge!! Lots of up and down! Trail gets a little hard to follow near the top because so many people have walk off the trail. They do have volunteers at the top and bottom and even in between to ask questions! Lovely scenery and huge rocks! There is a breeding pair of Prairie Falcons up at the top please be respectful of their space!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

This is a good, but rough, hike. Completely worth it, but get ready to work for the reward. It starts out flat, but then you quickly start to ascend to the top. A series of switch-backs and uphill steps that don't really let up until you get to the top. But once you get there it suddenly seems worth it. The views are stunning, and the natural formation of the rocks is amazing. We did the hike mid-week and only saw about 15 people the whole hike. The parking lot is big and there are large restrooms at the information center. Be sure to bring plenty of water!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tough incline, never lets up until close to the top. Heavily traveled so early is better, view form the top is well worth it. Once you get to the top many don't know but there is a small hole where rocks have fallen, crawl inside and you will pop out on a cliff with an amazing view and have sitting room for two to three, i

Thursday, January 05, 2017

fun ramble. good views from the top.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Starts easy but u are sure in for a climb. Thank you to the Dc boys that helped me on the way back.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A good strong ascent to the top of a very recognizable landmark in the Phoenix valley.

25 days ago

27 days ago

1 month ago

2 months ago

2 months ago

7 months ago

10 months ago

10 months ago

Monday, March 13, 2017

Load More