“A challenging trail with a 2,000 ft climb on rough and unstable rocky terrain.”
— Caesar Garcia
Don’t expect to get much running on this trail. The first 1/2 is a steady uphill at a low grade, but once you get past the halfway point, running is nearly impossible due to terrain and grade. The same goes for running downhill as well.
This is a challenging trail that will require an individual to be conditioned and agile enough to run and climb rough unstable rocky terrain. The entire trail is exposed and can experience extreme weather anytime of the year. Take plenty of water, dress in layers, and have sun protection.
To reach the trail, park at the lot for the Calico Tanks Trail
. Take this trail heading north a short distance to the junction with Turtlehead Mountain Trail which heads off to the left. The trail up starts with a steady gradual incline on a combination of double and singletrack, and the surface varies between hard compact dirt and loose rocks. The first part of the run is marked with signs that will say Turtlehead Peak Trail with an arrow. This section of trail is generally in the intermediate category of difficulty.
After about 1.2 miles, the real fun begins; the grade changes dramatically as does the terrain. Expect steep grades and larger rocks to climb over. The ground is very unstable in many sections, and the trail can be difficult if not impossible to find in some instances, making it tricky to follow the right path as you work your way up.
Follow the white arrows and/or white dot markings on many of the rocks but keep an eye out, in some instances the paint can be faded. There are green dots and arrows as well that parallel the white markings. Stay with the white markings as it will lead you to the top of Turtlehead Mountain.
On the final ascent to the top, there will be a fork in the trail with two arrows: an easy route and hard route. The hard way is no harder than what you already did to get up to that point. The top has amazing 360-degree views of Red Rock Canyon, as well as views of the Vegas skyline. It is well worth the run.
The descent can be dangerous with the steep grade and unstable footing. Expect it to take longer than a normal 2.2 mile descent. Again, follow the white arrows and white dot markings.
Be prepared on this run; bring plenty of water, snacks, and have proper footwear with good grip and stability. If running with dogs, they should be agile enough to jump up and down rocks.
Cell phone coverage varies along this trail so don't rely on it for emergencies.