Friday, February 24, 2017

Turtlehead Peak - 2/24/17

Archive Photo: Turtlehead from Side

Bridgepoint & Bridge Mountains from Turtlehead Peak

Las Vegas Strip from Turtlehead Peak

Trail Junction
 A lucky seven hikers showed up for a good climb up to Turtlehead Peak. The trailhead is located at the Sandstone Quarry pullout from the scenic loop of Red Rock Canyon NCA. We arrived early so there was a lot of parking. These days, an early arrival is the only way to guarantee a spot! We started out the trail, passed through the quarry informational area and came to one of the new trail signs that told us to turn left for Turtlehead. We did.

Hiking up Turtlehead / Limestone Trail
 These new brown signs are very nice. We have needed them for a long time. The signs for Turtlehead take hikers all the way over to the bottom of the ascent ridge. ... Then you are on your own!

Red Rock Escarpment from Trail
 There are several ways to skin this cat! Sorry cat lovers. The writer has done Turtlehead 4 times ... not one of her favorites ... and every time, a different route was taken.

Ascent Slope

Paralleling Wash to Saddle
 The first time was many years ago. With the absence of a "good" trail, we climbed a very steep and slippery slope that was used by most everyone else at that time, ... ten years ago. Many years went by before I climbed the peak again. The next time, we followed a "Turtlehead Expert!" This leader had run up the mountain daily for a long time and he knew the best route. We climbed up through the wash finding easy ways to get up and around all the scrambles.

La Madre above Turtlehead Saddle
 The third time, another leader decided to take the group straight up below the cliff of the "turtle's head." Interesting but quite a challenge.

Hikers waiting on Lower Saddle
 Then, today! Our demure and conservative leader, Barb, wanted to take us up the easiest way she knew and that was via the trail ... the new trail that had metamorphosed from the old trail.

Brownstone Canyon, Damsel Peaks and Las Vegas

View from Upper Saddle at Side of Turtlehead Peak
 In the last ten years, hiking has become a very popular sport. The many trails up Turtlehead that have appeared are difficult to choose from. However, there is one ... or two ... trails that we deemed as "main" trails that climbed up on the left side of the wash. Although still a formidable climb, the trails make the climb as easy as possible. Our group of seven still managed to find about seven different ways to get to the saddle!

Climbing the "Head"
 We gathered at the saddle then proceeded to begin climbing the "head" of the turtle.

View from Ridge Approach
 Once again, there were about seven different routes being taken. We could all see each other and we were all veteran hikers so it was all good.

Arriving at Peak (Griffith Peak in Background)

Calico Hills below Peak
 The writer decided to take a route that she had not taken before. A clear trail took her diagonally across to the other side of the head and then a right turn led her up along the ridge of the cliff. The views were magnificent! And, the climbing was a little less steep than that normal "straight up" stuff that she has done in the past. Everyone was already at the peak when I arrived. (BTW, a new sign in book is needed. There wasn't one in the ammo box.)

Starting down from Turtlehead Peak
 It was a very cold day and the breeze at the peak cooled us off quickly. So, we started down after only a few minutes.

Saddle Scenery
 We all took the same route down and stayed together a lot better.

Trail View

Mike calls this, "Three Damsels."
 As we descended, we passed many recreational hikers that were going up. Why not! It was a beautiful day! We tried to descend the same route we came up but our route changed just a little in a couple of places. When we got back to the trailhead parking lot, it was full to capacity. Just a note to the locals: The scenic loop will be going down to one lane from this Sunday evening to "the summer." Bring your "patience hat" to the hike! Lovely day!

5 miles; 2000 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Descent View

Arriving back at the Sandstone

Reaching Turtlehead / Limestone Trail

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