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North Turtleback

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.0 (3)

A challenging climb to the Tortugas Mountain Observatory.


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Map Key

0.7

Miles

1.2

KM

Point to Point

4,894' 1,492 m

High

4,256' 1,297 m

Low

639' 195 m

Up

0' 0 m

Down

16%

Avg Grade (9°)

38%

Max Grade (21°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views

Description

Almost identical to the western half of the Turtleback Trail a few hundred feet away, North Turtleback is one of several steep ascents to the top of Tortugas Mountain.

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 hikers 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.

Flora & Fauna

Desert plant life is best seen in the spring and early summer, when there's more precipitation, but the heat hasn't dried everything out yet. Animal life includes roadrunners, jackrabbits, lizards, hawks, and, of course, snakes.

Contacts

Shared By:

Brendan Ross with improvements by Jean-Claude Linossi

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 3 votes

#25115

Overall
  3.0 from 3 votes
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Trail Rankings

#364

in New Mexico

#25,115

Overall
1 Views Last Month
178 Since Dec 18, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

The New Mexico State University observatory located at the top of A Mountain, near Turtleback Trail.
Oct 5, 2015 near Univers…, NM
Looking down the trail. Lots of Yuccas
Mar 13, 2018 near Univers…, NM

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Check-Ins

Dec 22, 2018
Atanu Barai
Dec 31, 2017
Jean-Claude Linossi
Steep trail with loose rocks. Good views of the Tortuga mountain and Las Cruces. 0.7mi — 0h 30m
May 8, 2017
Rachel Jagielski
stayed on top to view a beautiful sunset