Hiking Project Logo

A steep, technical trail summiting Tortugas Mountain, with some scrambling on the eastern face.


Your Rating: Rating Rating Rating Rating Rating      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add To-Do · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

1.5

Miles

2.4

KM

Point to Point

4,863' 1,482 m

High

4,260' 1,299 m

Low

603' 184 m

Up

582' 178 m

Down

15%

Avg Grade (9°)

50%

Max Grade (26°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views

Description

One of the many short trails leading to the top of Tortugas Mountain, Turtleback Trail is the only one connecting to the mountain's eastern side. The trail begins at the Sunset Parking Lot. After crossing the Tortugas Trail loop a few hundred feet in, it begins a steep, challenging climb straight up the hillside. Rocks, generally small but some as large as basketballs, add some technicality to the mix. The primary challenge is in the grade, though, and many hikers will need to power hike the last half mile to the top. Exercise caution if descending this portion, as moving too fast can make it easy to lose control.

Two interesting features are found at the top: an observatory run by the nearby New Mexico State University (whose "A" adorns the hill to commemorate their mascot, the Aggies), and a small Catholic shrine. Pilgrimages to the shrine occur on a semi-regular basis, though most people visiting for this purpose take the easier Geothermal Road to the top.

The trail continues south for a few hundred feet before turning east. Descending down the eastern side is marginally less steep than the western slope, but it tends to be more technical. Larger rocks and boulders require some scrambling.

Turtleback crosses Tortugas Trail again a little after the mile point. The remaining portion of the trail is an easy descent to the flat Arroyo Loop.

Flora & Fauna

This trail features typical Chihuahua Desert Flora. Yuccas, agaves, creosote and on top of the mountains there are many big clumps of haystack cactus. They are really beautiful in May when they are in bloom.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brendan Ross with improvements by Jean-Claude Linossi

Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 3 votes

#26839

Overall
  3.3 from 3 votes
5 Star
0%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
67%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#398

in New Mexico

#26,839

Overall
27 Views Last Month
695 Since Oct 1, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
33%
33%
33%
0%

Photos

View on the top and Haystack cacti.
Apr 2, 2018 near Univers…, NM
The New Mexico State University observatory located at the top of A Mountain, near Turtleback Trail.
Oct 5, 2015 near Univers…, NM
Fairly representative sample of the trail type found here.
Dec 21, 2015 near Univers…, NM

0 Comments

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Unknown
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Apr 23, 2021
Nick Kepf
Tan only the west side. Good footing up and down. Beautiful at the top.
Jan 24, 2019
Kasie Hawkins
Dec 31, 2016
Jean-Claude Linossi
This is rather steep in places but well worth the effort. Nice views from the top. 1.5mi — 0h 45m
Welcome

Join the Community

Create your FREE account today!
Already have an account? Login to close this notice.

Get Started