turtlehead peak trail

Hike Turtlehead Peak Trail

One of the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, the Turtlehead Peak hike is tough but rewards you with sweeping 360 views of Las Vegas and the surrounding La Madre mountains. The trail to Turtlehead Peak the shortest peak hike in Red Rock Canyon park, so be prepared for a workout and some crowds. It's worth it, the views are incredible.

Rating:
5 / 5
Distance:
5 miles (8.1 km)
Time:
3-4 hours
Difficulty:
Hard
Climbing:
2000 ft (610 m)
Trail Condition:
Marked (but hard to follow in places)
Challenges:
Climbing, Crowds
People:
Crowded
Known For:
Views
Best Time:
Early Morning
Dogs:
Leashed
Bathrooms:
At Trailhead
Parking:
Fee, Free with NPS Pass
Hike Weather:

Turtlehead Peak Trail Trail Maps

Google Maps trailhead:
Sandstone Quarry Overlook, Las Vegas, NV, 89161, USA

Hike Location

turtlehead peak trail location
The Turtlehead Peak trail is about 45 minutes west of the Las Vegas strip in Red Rock National Conservation Area.

3D Hike Map

turtlehead peak trail 3d map
The Turtlehead Peak trail starts in the colorful rock formations at Red Rock, and then makes it's way up the steep gully section, eventually reaching the saddle and then winding it's way up to the summit.

Hike Elevation Profile

turtlehead peak trail elevation
The beginning of the hike is the only place where the climb is pretty gradual. Once you get to the middle, it's really steep. There's a section that climbs 700 feet in less than a half a mile. Just take your time and you will be fine.

Interactive Hike Map

Turtlehead Peak Trail Map Downloads

Download a GPX file to use on your GPS device. GPS devices are great to plan and follow routes, and there are tons of free electronic hiking maps that you can use. But don't rely solely on electronic navigation, always have a paper backup. Print out the PDF below, get a topo map, and/or print these directions.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Turtlehead Peak Trail Directions

turtlehead peak trail

Do you have the right gear for this hike? Check out all the gear and clothing that I personally use and recommend. I've tested it all and cut the junk out so you don't waste your money.

What to Expect

Turn by Turn Hike Directions

turtlehead peak trail parking
The Sandstone Quarry parking lot is easy to find and is on the map you get at the visitor’s center.
turtlehead peak trail parking
There are bathrooms in the parking lot.
turtlehead peak trail
A few trails leave from the trailhead at Sandstone Quarry. You’re heading to Turtlehead Peak, which shares the same trail as Calico Tanks in the beginning.
turtlehead peak trail
The trail is wide and easy to spot.
turtlehead peak trail
Head up the trail with Turtlehead Peak looming in front of you.
turtlehead peak trail
Shortly after the start of the hike, you’ll reach the Sandstone Quarry. The quarry is on your right, the trail to your left.
turtlehead peak trail
The quarry has some abandoned blocks and an interpretive display. It’s worth a look. Continue back to the trail when you’re finished.
turtlehead peak trail
The trail is clearly marked to the left the Sandstone Quarry area. Head towards Turtlehead Peak.
turtlehead peak trail
In general the trail is easy to follow on the lower slopes. There are trail markers large and small, so look for them if you see a split or side trail. The larger (main) trail is generally always clear on this part of the hike.
turtlehead peak trail
Another trail marker makes it easy to follow the path.
turtlehead peak trail
Shortly after the quarry, the trail splits. Keep left to head towards Turtlehead Peak.
turtlehead peak trail
The trail is still nice and wide as you hike between the sandstone formations.
turtlehead peak trail
The hike heads up onto a ridge, with a wash down below to your right. Unlike later in the hike, the trail here is well marked with signs like these.
turtlehead peak trail
The trail heads into the wash for a bit. Look for stones lining the sides to avoid any false trails, which happen often in washes.
turtlehead peak trail
The trail heads back up onto a ridge, and again, has a nice big sign.
turtlehead peak trail
The trail veers away from the wash and up towards the chute. The feel of the trail changes here. It’s not as wide and well marked as it was before.
turtlehead peak trail
So the next part of the hike is a bit of a “choose your own adventure.” The idea is that you hike up the chute to the saddle before Turtlehead Peak. The problem is that the trail is steep and splits apart at many points (and rejoins most of the time too). In general, you want to keep the bottom (lowest point) of the chute to your right as you hike up. The “official” trail line that you see on some topo maps is also different than the actual marked trail at points. The good news is that there are multiple ways to the saddle, and if you loose track of the directions here, chances are the trail you’re on will get you to the top.
turtlehead peak trail
So off the bat, the trail gets steep. Look ahead for the most well worn path before you start climbing.
turtlehead peak trail
There are occasional trail markers on the rocks, but don’t count on them. In addition to these signs, there are (aqua) green blazes to look for. They blend in with the rocks so you have to really look for them.
turtlehead peak trail
Avoid the side trails that go to the other side of the gully.
turtlehead peak trail
Notice the green blaze in the middle of the rock. Look for the blazes as you climb. And if you don’t see them but seem to be still heading up toward the saddle, don’t stress, just head toward the saddle.
turtlehead peak trail
Some hikers have left cairns too, another sign that you’re in the right place.
turtlehead peak trail
Towards the saddle you’ll see this huge boulder. Almost there, the saddle is shortly after this.
turtlehead peak trail
One last steep stretch to the saddle.
turtlehead peak trail
When you get to the saddle, soak in the views and make the right toward the back of the peak.
turtlehead peak trail
This first part of the trail on the saddle is pretty easy to follow.
turtlehead peak trail
After a short level stretch, you’ll start climbing again.
turtlehead peak trail
At the first big junction you encounter, make the right.
turtlehead peak trail
Similar to the chute, there are a few ways to the summit here, with the trail splitting and rejoining often. In general, you’ll go up a bit toward the summit, then hike left toward the ridge, and then loop back around toward the summit. Check the map section out to make sense of what I just said.
turtlehead peak trail
As you go up, the trail veers left toward the ridge (and away from the summit).
turtlehead peak trail
Views! Eventually you’ll come out on the ridge with sweeping views of Red Rock Canyon and Las Vegas in the distance.
turtlehead peak trail
Head right up the ridge toward the peak. The trail splits, etc. here too, but just keep going toward the summit.
cris hazzard on turtlehead peak
You did it, the summit. It can be windy up here, so be careful. Enjoy the views. To the southeast you’ll see the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. The mountains surrounding you to the west is the La Madre range.
turtlehead peak
There are some great views into the rock formations at Red Rock Canyon. There’s also a small trail register at the summit (unless someone has stolen it).
turtlehead peak trail
Once you’re done on the peak, head down the way you came up. It can get tricky heading down, so keep your eyes open for the green blazes.

Turtlehead Peak Trail Video

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A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.