Hiking In Scottsdale, Arizona [Papago Park and Tom’s Thumb]

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Hiking in Scottsdale and Phoenix was one of the highlights of my recent trip to Arizona.  Now, when I say “hiking” I really mean “pleasant long walks in nature”, not some crazy rock climbing shit.

But seriously, we are total newbies when it comes to actual hiking.

Hiking Marcus Landslide Trail Scottsdale
View from Marcus Landslide Trail

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Papago Park Double Butte Loop

We chose this location because it is very close to Scottsdale and didn’t have the crazy parking situation that we heard about at Camelback Mountain.  We did the 2.3 mile Double Butte Loop plus a little extra climbing.

This loop is marked easy/moderate and I found that to be pretty accurate. It was a fun hike but it wasn’t as quiet and serene as I had hoped. Since it’s so close to the city you can hear and see airplanes landing and taking off and part of the trail goes right by the highway.

One great thing about this trail is that it’s close to the Desert Botanical Garden, so you can take a tour of the gardens before or after your hike.

Hiking Papago Park in Phoenix Arizona
Relaxing mid-hike at Papago Park

Tom’s Thumb Marcus Landslide Trail

I originally learned about Tom’s Thumb when I was researching Scottsdale hiking trails. Once we got there we discovered the actual Tom’s Thumb trail is extremely difficult so we opted for the moderate Marcus Landslide Trail.  I loved every single minute!  This trail is 3.7 miles with a 300 ft elevation gain and takes you to the top of the 2nd largest landslide in Arizona.

It was remote, uncrowded, quiet, and insanely beautiful.  The colors really struck me — the mountains in the distance were a beautiful blue, all the cactus and vegetation were green and the rocks and trail were red. It was absolutely stunning!

Marcus Landslide Trail Tom's Thumb Scottsdale Arizona
View from Marcus Landslide Trail

10 Tips For Hiking In Scottsdale

I thoroughly enjoyed hiking in Scottsdale, and I am definitely planning on incorporating more hikes on our upcoming adventures.  Since I’m not a total newbie anymore I wanted to share with you what I learned from my first 2 real hikes.

  1. Wear a backpack.  Crossbody bags don’t cut it.
  2. Don’t wear white…it gets grungy quickly.
  3. Go to the bathroom before you start…or else you will have to pee on a rock (picture omitted by author).
  4. Don’t lick the cactus…just seeing if you were paying attention.
  5. Don’t over document…or your husband (or wife or hiking partner) will secretly hope you fall and break your phone.
  6. Pay attention…there is a lot of beauty out there.  And critters.Papago Park Hike Lizard
  7. Take care of your feet…sturdy shoes are a must, and a soak in the hot tub afterward doesn’t hurt either.
  8. Wear a hat…even if it’s cloudy.
  9. Bring extra water…more than you think you will need.
  10. Have fun…life is good

Final Thoughts

While hiking Camelback Mountain is a goal for many people, we chose to tackle the less well known Papago Park and Tom’s Thumb trails. These easy trails in Scottsdale and Phoenix are great for beginners or those looking for easy hikes with great scenery.

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Danielle

    Loved the tips at the end! Some great photos as well 🙂

    1. Katie @ ZenLifeandTravel

      Thanks, Danielle!

  2. Justine

    Oh wow, I’m so jealous of your US hikes! I adore being in the outdoors, especially hiking. Welcome to the clan! 😉 Ha, yes indeed – definitely don’t lick the cactus!

  3. Alice Chen

    That tip about wearing the hat is a super good idea. I used to not care but wearing a hat really makes a difference! Hats and sunglasses ftw

  4. Reena | Just24Days.com

    Love the post! I haven’t been to Arizona yet but am bookmarking this post when I do visit!

    1. Katie @ ZenLifeandTravel

      This was my first trip and I fell in love! It was so beautiful and the weather was fantastic – can’t wait to go back.

  5. Katie @ ZenLifeandTravel

    lol, I’ll try : )

  6. Carrie @ Season It Already!

    We liked Papago Park and found it easy, too! I don’t remember it being loud at all though. We were the only ones there and I don’t remember planes or anything. We did walk by a couple of locals, but that was about it. Stop licking cacti, Katie! 🙂

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