The McDowell Mountains are just outside Scottsdale and have a concentration of some of the best granite in the Phoenix area. With several large walls within reasonable hiking distance – a day or a weekend can be spent climbing classics such as: Toms Thumb, the Gardener Wall, Sven Slab (pictured left) or Morrell’s Wall. With the majority of the routes being lead on trad gear, this area is a great challenge for the lead climber with classics such as Beat Feat (5.7) and Hanging Gardens (5.5), one of the finest 5.5’s in the entire state.
Areas Within McDowell Mountains:
Check out the MAP
Take Pima Rd out to Happy Valley from the 101/ Rio Verde Dr and continue east past Troon and the turn off for Pinnacle Peak. Turn right at the sign for Tom Thumb trailhead and continue till the road ends at a T. Turn right and continue south and park in the lot. The new large metal structure provides shade and restrooms – However, there is NO WATER at this park.
Our Favorites Include:
- Hanging Gardens (5.5) Gardeners Wall
- One For the Road (5.6) Sven Slab
- Beat Feat (5.7) Morrell’s Wall
- Sail Away (5.7) Sven Tower Two
TIP: This is a large park with several separate areas. The higher routes will require hiking time, so plan accordingly.
Gardeners Wall and Morrell’s Wall are the walls with the
longest routes. With exciting vista’s and sustained cracks, these
are premier gems in the area. The Tom’s Thumb, Glass Dome,
and the Lost Wall areas are not as easily accessible and
therefore see less traffic, making for a wonderfully solitary
climbing experiences in the middle of the busy city of Scottsdale.
Further East, Sven Slab, Sven Towers and Rosetta Stone offer great trad climbing,
including the 3-pitch Right Rib (5.6) on Sven Tower 3, and Sail Away (5.7) on Sven
Tower 2. Rosetta Stone is an enjoyably remote area on the southeast side of the range –
boasting mild routes withgreat views of Four Peaks and Fountain Hills.
The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that champions the completion and sustainability of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve for the benefit of this and future generations. They connect the community to the Preserve through public and private partnerships, environmental education, and stewardship.
They champion the cause of preserving this critical environment amidst the hustle and bustle of the Scottsdale community. Unlike Troon mountain, falling into the hands of developers and local private interest, the McDowell Mountain Park has remained in its pristine condition due to the influence of their organization and its efforts. The park extends the length of Scottsdale and contains numerous environments for rock climbing, hiking, rappelling and exploring. For rock climbers, the North Side of the park is a destination for some of the best rock climbing in the area.
There are multitudes of trail systems all over the McDowell Mountain range from its climbing areas in the north to the vast mountain biking and hiking trails on the west and south borders of the park. McDowell Mountain Regional Park is a 21, 099 acre playground with over 50 miles of trails to enjoy. With several locations hosting Nature Centers, you can find plenty of places to head out into the mountain, trail run or mountain bike.