Marcus Landslide Trail - Hike, Horseback, Mountain Bike, and Rock Climb near Scottsdale, Arizona
~23010 N 103rd Pl, Scottsdale, AZ 85255, USA,Scottsdale,Arizona
33.69493111, -111.80131195
15.6 miles NE of Scottsdale, Arizona
Address: ~23010 N 103rd Pl, Scottsdale, AZ 85255, USA
GPS: 33°41'41.8"N 111°48'4.7"W
Maps | Directions
State: Arizona
Trail Length: 3.00 miles
MTB Difficulty: Intermediate
Trail Type: Lariat
Hike Difficulty: Intermediate
Elevation Gain: 518 feet

Pet Friendly

Hike, Horseback, Mountain Bike, and Rock Climb

The Marcus Landslide Trail is named after ASU professor Melvin Marcus, a renouned geographer, after the discovery and recognition of the interesting geographical area in 2002. More than 500,000 years ago, catastrophic events led to the landslide in the McDowell Mountains that has created beautiful formations for the hikers, bikers, and climbers to behold.

Experts believe some of the native plants and animals of the time are buried underneath the landslide including mammoths, giant sloths, saber-tooth cats, camels, and horses. Courtesy of hikearizona.com

The Tom's Thumb Trailhead is the starting point for the Marcus Landslide Trail, which is heavily marked and worn-down by many hikers and riders over the years. The trail is wide and very smooth, which is great to allow plenty of views at the eye-catching boulder and rock features. On a clear day, one can see the Superstition and Mazatzal mountains on the horizon. There is little elevation gain for the first mile or so of trail, but it eventually climbs up into the landslide areas. Some of these avalanche landmarks include the breakaway scar, the fall zone, and the slide mass edges.


Hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding

Start at the Tom's Thumb parking area and trailhead and turn left, following the signs for the Marcus Landslide trail. Follow this trail for 1.5 miles until it connects with the Boulder trail. At the fork, turn right and follow the loop around, ending at the fork once again. Follow the trail for the 1.5 miles back to the parking area.


Rock Climbing

Start at the Tom's Thumb parking area and hike along the Marcus Landslide trail. Access trails to the climbing areas are found all along the trail at varying distances with the closest at 0.3 miles in. The nearby climbing in the McDowell Mountains offers 125 total climbing routes, 96 of which are trad. The local climbing ethos celebrates stiff ratings, including run-outs, on varying quality granite depending on the specific crag. The climbing ranges from 5.4 to moderate 5.11, both trad and sport, so there are routes to enjoy by climbers of all skill level and pursuit. Some of the classics include Changes in Longitude at 5.5 trad and 150ft in 2 pitches and Leave it to Beaver at 5.9 trad and 90ft.

Once threatened by house and golf course development, the city of Scottsdale (with the help of it's citizens, who kept voting in tax $$ support to acquire the land!) managed to turn the whole place into the McDowell-Sonoran Preserve, starting in the mid 90's and continuing to this day. The Preserve today sits at almost 22,000 acres with the eventual plan to encompass some 36,000+ acres! Courtesy of mountainproject.com

To keep climbing access, rememeber to stay on developed trails and keep the crags clean. 

540 Edited by sott

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Never modify trail features. Ride trails when they're dry enough that you won't leave ruts. Speak up when you see others on the trail and always yield to hikers, horses, and others coming uphill. Always ride on the established trail.

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Be courteous, informed, and prepared. Read trailhead guidelines, stay on the trail, and don’t feed the wildlife.

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  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel & camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors

Directions

From Scottsdale, Arizona

  1. Head north on N Scottsdale Rd toward E Indian School Rd (276 ft)
  2. Turn right at the 1st cross street onto E Indian School Rd (2.2 mi)
  3. Turn left to merge onto AZ-101 Loop N (10.5 mi)
  4. Take exit 36 to merge onto N Pima Rd toward Princess Dr (0.5 mi)
  5. Turn right to stay on N Pima Rd (0.7 mi)
  6. Keep right to stay on N Pima Rd (4.0 mi)
  7. Turn right onto E Happy Valley Rd (4.2 mi)
  8. Continue onto N 118th St (0.1 mi)
  9. Turn right onto Ranch Gate Rd (1.3 mi)
  10. Turn right onto N 128th St (1.0 mi)
  11. At the traffic circle, continue straight
    Destination will be on the right
    (0.4 mi)
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Guest Review/Comments

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Marcus Landslide hike, McDowell Mountain Park - Pa by A Romain
Marcus Landslide Trail, Scottsdale, AZ! by Places WeGo Marcus Landslide around and around by Crzy4AZ Hanging Garden Climb in the McDowell Mountains by Walking with a Wookie

Trails

Distance ?

2.2 miles

Elevation Gain ?

-131 feet

Real Ascent ?

299 feet

Real Descent ?

430 feet

Avg Grade (-1°)

-1%

Grade (-15° to 14°)

-28% to 25%

Elevation differences are scaled for emphasis. While the numbers are accurate, the cut-away shown here is not to scale.

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