Directions: From Fountain Hills, the easiest way to Marcus Landslide trail is to take Fountain Hills Blvd until it turns into E McDowell Mountain Rd.
1. Travel 10 miles on E. McDowell Road
2. Take a left onto Forest Road through Rio Verde for 2 miles
3. At the stop sign, turn left onto Rio Verde Drive for 9 miles
4. Take a left onto N Alma School Pkwy for 1.2 miles
5. Take a left onto E Jomax Rd for 1.4 miles
6. Turn left onto N 118th street for 0.7 miles
7. Turn right onto Ranch Gate Rd for 7 miles arriving at the Tom Thumb Trail parking area
About the Hike: Marcus Landslide trail is an easy 4.1-mile trail with a mild elevation gain of 518 feet. I recommend hiking this trail in the winter and spring months because no shade is available along the path. I explored Marcus Landslide on an early morning the last week of February 2021. I noticed few hikers as I started at 8:00 am, but I passed many groups of hikers heading out when finishing.
You get a beautiful view of Four Peaks off in the distance from the trailhead. The trail is smooth and perfect for our furry friends and those who love mountain biking.
Just a little way up, the first unique rock format is off to the right. You can take a short ancillary trail up to the rock formation and read the interpretive geological sign.
My friend Holly and I took turns turning rock formation into images. Holly was quick to see a sleeping dinosaur hidden within this formation nestled off in the distance north.
Looking for a ride? When I glance over at the next rock formation all I could see was a hand with the thumb out looking for a ride.
In the distance is McDowell Mountains "East End". About 500,000 years ago, the East End collapsed into a massive rock avalanche.
Imagine 5.5 million cubic meters of granite rock, vegetation, and soil suddenly flowing easterly for 1-mile before coming to rest. This avalanche is Marcus Landslide which is 1,650 feet wide and 4000 feet long with a height of 100 feet above the valley floor.
Sadly, with no rainfall, no wildflowers are blooming across the Arizona landscape. Instead, I found beauty in the cacti peppered across the desert floor.
We found the perfect location for a break at the Fallen Mushroom rock formation.
As I hiked along the trail, I would pause to read and learn about the area's landslide and geological features. The crack along the bottom of this mushroom rock will expand, resulting in this sizeable standing mushroom rock tumbling down.
Near the end of the trail is a 1-mile loop. I found it to be the best part of the hike and where the elevation slightly ascends the 153 feet.
Time to explorer Submarine Rock interpretive path.
Saguaro cacti are sprinkled across the landscape showing off their grandeur.
The trail winds and twists through the formations.
Waiting for you at the top of Loop trail are those amazing Arizona views. Gazing downward, I followed the path we just finished.
A glance back as we were finishing the hike offered a surprise. I spied a vacant little bird's nest tucked away in the tree.
We stepped off the trail to let a large group of hikers pass. While waiting, we noticed the sun accenting the rocks behind us.
I thought to myself how perfect this hike would be when visitors come. It's easy, has those interpretive markers along the trail, so they'll learn about the area. Plus, it's a lovely scenic area to share with visitors unfamiliar with the desert's ecological system.
Most importantly, though, is to remember there is no shade. Do not forget to bring, sunscreen, either a hat or umbrella and lots of water.