Elevation: 3,000 ft
GPS: 33.682, -111.811 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 22,663 total · 143/month
Shared By: Anonymous Climber on Feb 21, 2006
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland
Access Issue: Access: Details
Access Issue: Seasonal Closure Lifted -2016 Details


Tom's Thumb is a prominent 140-foot plug of desert granite that perches atop the McDowell Mountains ridgeline. It is visible from miles in all directions. Originally called "The Dork" by the old time Phoenix climbers, it was rechristened Tom's Thumb in honor of climber Tom Kreuser back in the day.

The rock and the routes on Tom's Thumb are mostly in the excellent range. The harder routes here are some of the best you'll find on any granite crag in the Phoenix area. Because of the slightly burly approach, and the general notion that granite climbing is out of style these days in Phoenix, you're not likely to have to share any routes while visiting the Thumb.

Beautiful, incredibly classic place to climb.

Getting There

Approach as for Gardener's Wall parking, but pick out a trail through the desert aiming for a drainage leading straight down the hillside from the Thumb. Watch out for snakes in the warm times of the year!

A nice day of moderate climbing can also be done by approaching Gardener's Wall, climbing a route to the top, and then downclimbing off the back and hiking up to Tom's Thumb for more fun!

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Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
New access Fund Update:

Update: New Access for North Area of McDowells
In May we reported on the recent success of the Arizona Mountaineering Club (AMC) and local Arizona climbers in working with the City of Scottsdale to open the north area of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve to climbing. Part of the climbing management plan requires that climbers use official parking areas and designated trails, which the local climbing community is currently working to establish. The AMC is pleased to report that the new Tom’s Thumb trail is now open and can be accessed from a temporary parking area in the general vicinity of Morrell's Parking Lot, where the permanent parking will eventually be located.

For more information on the Tom’s Thumb Trail and designated access to the other historic climbing crags in the area, visit the Arizona Mountaineering Club's website. Jul 16, 2009
Mesa AZ
ClimbPHX.com   Mesa AZ
Please be aware of the new trails and signs that have been placed in the region. To protect the environment, we ask that travel be restricted to the maintained trails.
Dec 3, 2009
Mesa AZ
ClimbPHX.com   Mesa AZ
There is an active hive moving about the rocks just south of the Thumb. - Beware - the bees were moving in a swarm and were aggressive. May 4, 2010
It's about an hour hike from the new parking lot to Tom's on the new trail. Might be harder but faster to go to Gardners Wall then scramble up to the Thumb. Sep 25, 2012
Hey all, I was on Sucubus (5.10a) today and when I was rapping down I saw a raptor fly out of the alcove on Sacred Datura Direct (5.9). Upon descent, I found indeed there is a raptor nest in Sacred Datura Direct.

I am relatively new to the Phoenix area, but I know every other crag I've climbed at in the US refrains from climbing while and where raptors are nesting. Although I am no expert, it seems to me that all routes right of Treiber's (5.7) and left of Great Compromise (5.9) should be avoided out of good climbing ethic for the time being.

Can somebody who actually knows what they're talking about here weigh in? Feb 23, 2014
Hey Taylor; I saw the falcons a couple weeks ago as well! They are Prairie falcons. Three yrs ago a pair of Peregrine falcons tried to nest in that same alcove! That was the first time I noticed nesting falcons. Not sure if they were successful in rearing any young. And yes, most climbers are or should be guardians of the environment! And yes alot of cliffs are closed here in Az. for falcons to nest. If falcons are disturbed while nesting ( evidenced by screaming adults ) the eggs can cool n die or the young can be scared from the ledge before they can fly. The whole formation of Toms thumb should be closed from Jan to June. Anyone standing on the top of Toms thumb and throwing ropes and such would disturbed nesting falcons. I dont think the land managers of the area (mcdowell sonoran preserve ) know of the situation. Im in the process of trying to contact them and see if we can institute a seasonal closure. Feel free to contact them as well. It will piss off the dill weed climbers, but oh well. My background to speak of the biology of falcons is twofold ( Wildlife biologist and falconer ).

cheers lou May 20, 2014
manuel rangel
manuel rangel   Arizona
Prairie falcons aren't on the Endangered Species List anymore. Although some land managers have used the List as an arbitrary closure. I am very disappointed when anyone bothers wild life. Hopefully both Taylor and Lou were nice enough to stop climbing and walk the talk. Otherwise, did the birds leave? Were they disturbed enough to wreck the nest?

I have seen falcons elsewhere in AZ, Isolation Canyon for one. In that area, I have noticed their nest for years and avoided the nearby routes when they were active. I have seen people climb near them and they will let you know when you are too close. If you see a nest or falcons near your route, move on.

Contacting the Scottsdale land managers is only going to fan the fire to close everything. Hopefully Scottsdale will have the same response as the Natl Forest when informed of the falcons in Isolatiion: they aren't endangered. That will leave us as the stewards of the cliffs.

Please share the places we enjoy with the wild things. Show them respect and care for them without intervention by the "Authorities". May 21, 2014
Hey Manny... I know how what a pain it can be to have cliffs closed. But we need to protect the native fauna. Prairies arent endangered, neither are peregrines. However they are protected Federally from harassment. That is why there are still cliffs closed for Peregrines all over the West ( Yosemite, Zion, Mt Lemon, Chochise, J-tree ) So kinda a moot point about endangerment; we dont need to puch them back. I generally walk the walk. When the birds "let you know" they are very distressed and eggs can chill and young can suffer. Nest are very exacting in the direction they face, height, size, exposure, etc... some nests are dated in use for a thousand yrs! As to the National forest response; it was the local Payson state wildlife manger; Im the one who informed them and told you of the response, remember? Anyhow, his lack of response is not typical and certainly not of Federal land managers; so that particular issue is not necessarily finished. Your last lines ring true; too bad alot of climbers dont have the morals and respect that you do.... you know that!!

cheers.. lou May 21, 2014
manuel rangel
manuel rangel   Arizona
Just saw your comments Lou. I remember you telling me about your phone con and the results.

Just what law are you referring to concerning harrassment of falcons etc? The only one cited was the Migratory Species Act. It is a stretch to use that law but it has been used so far. Other than that, they deserve the same respect any animal is due, including leaving them to nest alone.

If you can point out a law, that would be dandy. The closures in AZ you mentioned are under scrutiny as well. You can't hold everyone accountable with useless policies set in stone; that has to change. Feb 24, 2015
Went up Treiber's Deception this morning (11/19/17)... great route. However, had a brain fart and left my anchor at the top (dyneema sling & several lockers). If anyone happens to head up soon and would be kind enough to retrieve it there is a 6-pack of beer or soda in it for you! Thanks so much
-dan Nov 19, 2017