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MCDowell Mountains gets a facelift
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Nov 25, 2012
Lately - with the weather being exceptional - I have taken the time to reaffirm my love with the McDowell Mountains in northern Scottsdale. I have visited this park on a hiatus every year about this time - but this year would be different.
The City of Scottsdale has completed construction of the permanent Tom’s Thumb Trailhead giving rock climbing a new place to rest while we play. The permanent Tom’s Thumb Trail Head will be located southeast of the intersection of 128th Street and the Preserve boundary, and will be accessed via 128th Street. From now on the preferred access from the intersection of Pima and Happy Valley Road will be to take Happy Valley east to where it turns north and becomes 118th street. Turn east on Ranch Gate Road then south on 128th street. This route has been improved to the boundary of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The old access route through Troon will be gated and closed to public traffic prior to completion of the new Trailhead. Please respect this effort by the City to attempt to avoid closure during the entire construction process, which will continue through early summer of 2012. Inevitably there could be some short term closures due to construction needs, so please follow any official signage.

The Preserve is owned by the City of Scottsdale and The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy and its primary purpose is to keep the natural habitat and geology in its native state. All usage is governed by the City of Scottsdale code and will be enforced. Once in the Preserve, please remember to follow all of the City of Scottsdale rules and regulations for the Preserve as indicated on the signage. These rules include no camping or overnight stays, opening at sunrise and closing at sunset, etc. Stay on the designated main trails, and only access crags on the official rock climbing trails, most of which are marked by signage along the Tom’s Thumb Trail. Under no circumstances use the old access to Tom’s Thumb that enters near the house SE of 128th and El Paraiso. (This signage was obtained by a grant the AMC received from the Access Fund and was installed by AMC and local climbers including members of

Please remember that the City of Scottsdale has been very good to the rock climbing community and is allowing us to continue to climb on all of the historic crags (albeit with new access). Your behavior can ensure that rock climbing can continue for the years to come. Please respect the partnership that has been formed with the City. Due to the work of fellow rock climbers,Eric Filsinger, the AMC and the city of Scottsdale, we now have upgraded facilities including a bathroom, parking, and shade structures overlooking the trailheads, graded trail systems and signage.

Rock climbers and hikers alike will benefit greatly from the improved signage encompassing the entire park and the trails to some of the more exclusive rock climbing destinations have been improved for easier access. We ask that you respect the area by staying to the trails, the city is working diligently on replanting razed, sensitive riparian areas. Roads have been replanted and should be respected by staying to the new paths and allowing them to grow back to former beauty.

We hope you will visit this area soon - The McDowell Mountain Preserve is the gem of the Scottsdale area and a mecca in the area for traditional rock climbing. Whether you are a rock climber, hiker or mountain bike rider, you will find your niche in this beautiful park.

Climb Safe - Climb Strong!


Note: Thank you to Eric Filsinger for updated material
From Mesa AZ
Joined Jan 31, 2006
965 points
Nov 26, 2012
Made it out there a couple of times this season. Fancy fancy! Lots of old scotsdalians walking around, some fancy mtn bikes, but we've been the only ones at the crags. Dogs are allowed too, which is nice (as compared to pinnacle peak). Jacob Jones
From oklazona
Joined Jan 11, 2012
0 points
Nov 27, 2012
Thanks for the kind words, Shiloh. It took a lot of work by a lot of folks over many years, but we now have recognized access to climb almost all of the historic crags. We should stick to the officially sanctioned Climber Access Routes as identified by the trail signage.

I posted the official rules and policies passed by Scottsdale's City Council in the Comments section of the routes for the McDowells. These became effective at the end of 2011 and everyone should try to follow them to keep our good standing.

Joined Oct 7, 2009
5 points

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