Monday, November 11, 2013

Tom's Thumb

Jordy is staying hydrated.
 Ever since I moved to Phoenix I've wanted to hike in the beautiful McDowell Mountains. which are visible to the east just about anywhere in the Paradise Valley/Scottsdale area. The McDowell Mountains are a nice change of pace from the Phoenix Mountains, as they boast humongous granite boulders and lots of interesting rock formations. The desert here is also higher than the Phoenix Mountains, and definitely has more of a "high desert" feel minus the creosote scrub-lands so common in low desert locales.

Climbing in the McDowell Mountains
Tom's Thumb Trail is a popular one that I've heard many people talk about, and for good reason. The area is absolutely beautiful. The trail rises gradually at first as it winds up the mountains, and eventually opens up to some expansive views after some steep sections. I'm not sure how long this trail is because every website I visited to find that information gave me a different answer, but I can say that it certainly feels short, but steep. From the high points on this trail you can see the rugged Superstitions, the mysterious Mazatzal's and the fabled Four Peaks. 

Tom's Thumb
Tom's Thumb
The mountains are extremely rocky, much more so than the Granite Mountain Wilderness that I visited a couple months back. The boulders are spectacularly gigantic. When I made it to the top and saw Tom's Thumb close up, I could not believe how huge it was! It looks like some kind of giant stone church standing sentinel-like on the mountaintop overlooking the vast desert congregation. It was pretty awesome!

See the arch?

Indeed, large rock formations like Tom's Thumb are frequent throughout Tom's Thumb Trail. Some of the boulders are as large as buildings. Some have faces in them. Some even harbor caves and crevices and good places to hide from the elements if one ever got stranded. It's pretty awe inspiring being so near such giant pieces or stone.

Face in the rock. Do you see? 
Overall it was an awesome hike. Even my nephew Jordy had a great time taking in the scenery and watching me bound up the trail ahead of him. Those Kelty Child Carriers are pretty sweet packs for getting the little-one's outside. For my money the McDowell Mountains (this section anyway) is by far the most beautiful hiking destination in or immediately around the Phoenix area. Other than Spur Cross in Cave Creek, nothing even comes close, and I can't wait to get out there again.