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Turtlehead Peak & Turtlehead Jr. – Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada | zephyr sunrise

Turtlehead Peak & Turtlehead Jr. – Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada

Erin and I were able to slip out of the O.C. for a quick trip out to Las Vegas at the end of December. Diane was willing to watch Zephyr for a few days (Thank you!). We decided to head out to Vegas and hit the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. This is one of my favorite spots to hike within a short distance from Southern California. We were headed out for four days and wanted to spend at least two of them on the trails.

We decided on 2 trails… Turtlehead and Turtlehead Jr.

Valley View from 3/4 up Turtlehead

Valley View from 3/4 up Turtlehead

#1 – Turtlehead

This trail is a ton of fun and a workout. It starts around 4400ft and heads up for another 2,000 or so. The hike is mildly strenuous. The view from the top is incredible, you can see the entire canyon all the way down to the Las Vegas strip. The trail is nearly impossible to locate for first timers and I recommend grabbing the GPX file from Hiking GPS waypoints (*.gpx) file, or downloading our tracks. Thank you Bird & Hike for the sweet GPX file.

  • Start Location:  Sandstone Quary parking lot 
  • Trail Route: Challenging to keep on route, I recommend downloading the GPX file or our tracks
  • Distance: Approx. 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Approx. 2200ft
  • Time: 2-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Medium/Strenuous
  • Kid/Family Friendly: If you are fit enough to carry small children on your back or front in a pack it is possible, but probably a little sketchy. I would say 5 and up on their own is probably fine, however over 7 would be better. There is a lot of areas to get injured, slip and fall and some very sheer drop off points.
  • WARNING: Sheer cliffs, slippery gravel, slightly technical scrambling
  • GPX File: Hiking GPS waypoints (*.gpx) file

Here are some pictures from the Turtlehead trail!

#2 – Turtlehead Jr.

I enjoyed this trail more than the previous and much more popular Turtlehead trail. This trail has much more scrambling, sheer drops and even a very cool little crag to ascend through in one section. I recommend taking this one on if you really enjoy getting out on the edge. Excitement factor for me was high on this hike!

  • Start Location:  Calico Basin Road, before you enter the official Red Rock Conservancy
  • Trail Route: Challenging to keep on route without a book and some serious landmark spotting skills. I recommend using this book Hiking Las Vegas
  • Distance: Approx. 3.75 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Approx. 950ft
  • Time: 2-4 hours
  • Difficulty: Medium/Strenuous
  • Kid/Family Friendly: This hike is pretty sketchy for little ones. There is a lot of sheer cliff and some tight squeezes. I would be nervous bringing my little guy up this route. I would pack him into my backpack but I don’t think Erin would let me.
  • WARNING: Sheer cliffs, slippery gravel, technical scrambling, big drop offs, lot’s of excitement

Here are the Maps and the Flyover for both hikes.

#1 – Turtlehead

#2 – Turtlehead Jr.