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Tom's Thumb Trail



4.8 mile 7.6 kilometer point to point
77% Runnable


Ascent: 1,133' 345 m
Descent: -1,390' -424 m
High: 3,773' 1,150 m
Low: 2,445' 745 m


Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 56% (29°)


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Trail shared by Hunter R

A stiff climb on desert singletrack leading to fantastic views of Tom's Thumb and the surrounding area.

Hunter R

Features Views

There is absolutely no water at the trailhead, so be sure to bring enough with you to succeed on your run. Conventional wisdom for the area dictates each member of your party should bring at least 2-3 liters of water during the summer and 1-2 liters in spring, fall, or winter. Improper hydration coupled with the steep gradients along this run can spell trouble for even the most seasoned desert runner.


Tom's Thumb is one of the best runs in Scottsdale, notable for its smooth trail surface, great signage, and interesting rock features. King of all the rock features along this run is the run's namesake and turn-around point: Tom's Thumb. At 1.4 billion years old, the towering granite slabs of Tom's Thumb have stood the test of time and are truly a sight to see.

Access this awesome run from the new Tom's Thumb Trailhead off North 128th Street, complete with sun shades, restrooms, and informational kiosks detailing the local flora, fauna, and geology. From the parking area, head through the bathroom and sunshade facility to reach the Tom's Thumb Trail on the opposite side.

For the first portion of the trail, enjoy relatively mellow grades and a manicured surface as you meander through abundant varieties of scrubby desert flora with ancient saguaros towering above and spiny, yellow-tinted cholla hiding below.

After about a half-mile, the trail increases in grade dramatically as it gains the ridgeline in haste. At this point, be sure to take frequent breaks and drink water, as forgetting to do so will leave you "seeing stars" as a result of dehydration. Plus, you might as well enjoy the scenic views of the McDowells and the surrounding area, as they will only build your excitement for the climactic viewpoint atop Tom's Thumb.

Once you have finally gained the ridge, the trail becomes much easier, continuing on a smooth tread as it contours the hillside. Turn right at the first junction you encounter, following the Tom's Thumb Trail as it weaves through large granitic boulders to a second junction that can be easy to miss if you are running with gusto. Look for a small sign marking a right turn onto a small path. As a great detour, you can follow the path as it navigates large boulders on its way to the summit of Tom's Thumb.

Continuing past the Tom's Thumb Summit Access trail, the main trail begins a stiff descent through loose, switchbacking terrain to reach its end in a junction with the Windgate Pass Trail.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes


Land Manager: City of Scottsdale

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Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 4 votes


  4.5 from 4 votes
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in Arizona


33 Views Last Month
916 Since Oct 7, 2016



View north from near summit of Tom's Thumb.
Dec 22, 2019 near Fountai…, AZ
Surrounding mountains from Tom's Thumb Trail
Jul 24, 2019 near Fountai…, AZ
The thumb. Get there!
May 15, 2015 near Fountai…, AZ
Tom's Thumb - Scottsdale, AZ.
Dec 1, 2017 near Fountai…, AZ
Inspiration Point
Apr 19, 2015 near Fountai…, AZ
Top of Tom's Thumb!
Dec 1, 2017 near Fountai…, AZ


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