ElevationAscent: 639' 195 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 4,894' 1,492 m
Low: 4,256' 1,297 m
GradeAvg Grade: 16% (9°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)
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“A challenging climb to the Tortugas Mountain Observatory.”— Brendan Ross
Southern New Mexico weather can be hot, windy, dusty, or all three at once. Summer heat is usually in the high 90's, and afternoon thunderstorms are common. Make sure to check the forecast and bring more water than you think you'll need. There is very little shade, so morning runs are preferable in the summer months.
The trail starts just before the picnic canopy near the Sunset Parking Lot. The rocky, rugged singletrack wastes no time in making a steep ascent, passing a few short segments and the main Tortugas Trail on the way up. Look for an interesting boulder field to the left near the Tortugas crossing.
Most runners will find themselves power hiking large segments of the trail for the first half mile. The combination of a steep grade, large rocks, and loose dirt make this a challenging climb. As the trail turns south, it flattens out considerably and provides a nice breather. A steep shortcut to the Altura parking lot branches off at North Tortugas Connector to the left.
As the path nears Turtleback Trail, it once again becomes a steep, difficult climb for its last segment. North Turtleback ends next to the New Mexico State University observatory at the top of the mountain.
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Land Manager: BLM New Mexico - Las Cruces District Office