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Las Vegas Trails

Las Vegas, NV: Turtlehead Peak

Looking to escape the Las Vegas crowds? You better work! The trail up to Turtlehead Peak is strenuous—but the payoff is 360-degree views that you’ll likely have to yourself.

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The hike begins at the Sandstone Quarry trailhead. Begin hiking northeast on a wide, dirt trail that leads toward remnants of an old quarry that operated in the 1920s. After 150 yards, you’ll cross over a large wash and pick up the trail on the other side. After another 130 yards you reach a trail junction with Calico Tanks trail. Veer northwest (left) at the junction. For the next 300 yards, the trail stays west of and above the wash before crossing northeast over another large wash. You’ll be able to pick the dirt trail on the north side of the wash. A couple hundred yards from the wash, the trail will turn sharply east leading through the last section of sandstone.

Hike northeast through the open desert and toward the base of the mountain. The trail heads northeast on a steep grade and parallel to a wash. About a third of a mile from where you left the wash and surrounding sandstone, you enter the La Madre Wilderness. About halfway up the chute, the trail runs into where the chute splits into two washes. From this point there is no obvious trail up to the saddle. Be prepared to navigate dozens of social trails whilst tackling some class 2 scrambling. You’re about to gain 700 feet of elevation in less than half a mile! One of the easier trails to follow stays to the east (right) of the wash.

Look up at the outcrop of large rocks just below the saddle and head to the east side of those. Once you reach the saddle, take a breather and enjoy the views. Now get moving: you’re not there yet!

From the saddle the trail winds southeast on a fairly steep series of social trails for about a third of a mile. The best trail stays on the west side of the peak, not too far from the edge of a massive cliff. The peak is sharp limestone with little vegetation, but it’s still a great place to sit and rest before the difficult hike back down. Enjoy the unrivaled view you worked so hard to be able to see. There’s La Madre Mountain to the north, the Red Rock Canyon escarpment to the west, the city of Las Vegas to the east, and Calico Basin lies beneath you in the southeast. To return to your vehicle, retrace your steps.

Safety Information
– Pay attention when you get to the saddle and make sure you go back down the way you came on your return trip. It’s not uncommon for people to get turned around at this saddle and end up down in Brownstone Canyon.
– Hikers often underestimate the difficulty of this hike. Bring plenty of water and wear shoes with good grip. A good portion of this trail is very steep. Expect to fall on your bum at least once on the way down.

Random Information
What is Class 2 hiking? It is more difficult hiking that may be off-trail. You may also have to put your hands down occasionally to keep your balance. It may include hiking on talus/scree.

Trailhead Sign

[Chelise Simmons]

Signage By The Wash

[Chelise Simmons]

Trail Junction Sign

Your destination looms ahead. [Chelise Simmons]

Trail Stays Above The Wash

[Chelise Simmons]

Turtlehead Peak Trail Sign

[Chelise Simmons]

Trail In The Wash

[Chelise Simmons]

Sign Across Wash

[Chelise Simmons]

Escarpment View

[Chelise Simmons]

Trail Towards Saddle

Arrow is pointing to boulders you need to hike to. [Chelise Simmons]

Wilderness Sign

[Chelise Simmons]

Mojave Popcorn Flower

[Chelise Simmons]

Juniper Tree

[Chelise Simmons]

Turtlehead Peak

Your destination is the top of that peak. [Chelise Simmons]

Rocky Outcrop

Looking up towards the saddle. [Chelise Simmons]

View From Saddle

[Chelise Simmons]

Brownstone Canyon

View from summit over canyon. [Chelise Simmons]

Unusual Foliage

[Chelise Simmons]

Mojave Mound Cactus

[Chelise Simmons]

Turtlehead Peak Panorama

[Chelise Simmons]

View West

Looking over the Calico Hills and over to the escarpment. [Chelise Simmons]

View East

Looking into Brownstone Canyon. [Chelise Simmons]

View Southeast

Looking back over the visitor center. [Chelise Simmons]

Trail Facts

  • State: NV
  • City: Las Vegas
  • Distance: 0.0
  • Contact: Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center (702) 515-5350
  • Land Type: BLM Land


Location: 36.162446, -115.450341
From trailhead follow the trail north.

Location: 36.163431, -115.450221
Continue northwest on Turtlehead Peak Trail at junction with Grand Circle trail.

Location: 36.163578, -115.450384
Cross wash and continue northwest on trail.

Location: 36.164948, -115.450787
Head northwest on Turtlehead Peak trail at junction with Calico Tanks trail.

Location: 36.166088, -115.451873
Stay left of trail marker to hike above the wash.

Location: 36.167051, -115.452635
Follow the wash for about 30 yards then hike back on the trail.

Location: 36.167667, -115.452871
Exit the wash and rejoin the trail.

Location: 36.169551, -115.453683
Trail continues in wash.

Location: 36.170451, -115.454563
Exit the wash and rejoin the dirt trail.
Location: 36.175273, -115.453844
Trail becomes steep scree.

Location: 36.176501, -115.453319
Wilderness boundary marker.

Location: 36.180314, -115.450535
Leave trail and enter wash. Pick the best route up towards craggy outcrop at the saddle.

Location: 36.183550, -115.447738
From the saddle follow trail southeast toward summit. Pick a trail that stays close to the west side. BEWARE of drop off.

Location: 36.180266, -115.445736
Turtlehead Peak. Retrace your steps back to trailhead.