The Mountains of Arizona •
Lookout Trail Highpoint • McDowell Mountains
• McDowell Sonoran Preserve
• Maricopa County

McDowell Lookout Trail Highpoint, Arizona
Toms Thumb (it officially has no apostrophe)
McDowell Lookout Trail Highpoint, Arizona
More big rocks. My summit today is the gently-rounded hump seen to the right
McDowell Lookout Trail Highpoint, Arizona
Looking south. Troon Mountain is visible in the gunsight
McDowell Lookout Trail Highpoint, Arizona
Another big rock stickout
McDowell Lookout Trail Highpoint, Arizona
That's Toms Thumb
McDowell Lookout Trail Highpoint, Arizona
The top
McDowell Lookout Trail Highpoint, Arizona
Toms Thumb again from the top
McDowell Lookout Trail Highpoint, Arizona
The rockpile on top

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Date: May 25, 2017 • Elevation: 3,949 feet • Prominence: Around 200 feet • Distance: 4.8 miles • Time: 2 hours • Gain: 1,350 feet • Conditions: Warm


Today's destination was an unnamed summit south of Toms Thumb in the McDowell Mountains. The Lookout Trail bypasses this summit, so that's where it gets its unofficial name.

I have not parked at the Toms Thumb Trailhead since 2011. Back then, it was just a dirt patch where you parked wherever possible. Since then, the city created a paved access route and a couple nice parking lots, plus a ramada with restrooms and drinking water. I arrived here about 7 a.m., the day warm already, but not too uncomfortable.

I followed Toms Thumb Trail up into the hills, admiring all the rocks. In about 45 minutes, I got to a saddle slightly south of where a side trail branches off to East End, the range highpoint, and Toms Thumb, the famous pillar on the ridgeline. I continued up this trail until I was south of Toms Thumb. I then found the Lookout Trail.

I followed this trail about a quarter mile, leaving it near one bump along the ridge. Sighting back, I saw the real top, and it was an easy task to climb through the low vegetation to get to the top. Snakes were on my mind, but I saw none. I was aware of bees too, but encountered none.

The top is nothing special, so I tagged it, took a few photos, drank water, and started back down. It was starting to warm up and I wanted to be moving quickly.

I followed the exact same route back out. There was a steady stream of hikers today. One woman was singing as she hiked. Lots of dogs too.

Near the ramada at the trailhead, people were warning me of a rattlesnake who was in the trail. However, when I got to the ramada, mister snakey had slithered off into the brush. I sat in the shade of the ramada and drank a lot of water. I had been out for two hours and it was about 90 degrees now.

I got what I came for: a workout, the views, a singing hiker and a possible snake.

The elevation of this highpoint is about the same as that of Toms Thumb. Whatever is higher gets the honor of being the highpoint of this lobe of the range. I have not climbed Toms Thumb but I am interested to try.

(c) 2017 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.