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Turtle Mountain Trail

Extremely Difficult


2.2 mile 3.6 kilometer point to point
Extremely Difficult


Ascent: 1,713' 522 m
Descent: -5' -1 m
High: 5,982' 1,823 m
Low: 4,274' 1,303 m


Avg Grade: 14% (8°)
Max Grade: 39% (21°)


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Trail shared by Phil Miller


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A steep out-and-back trail featuring views of both Caballo and Elephant Butte lakes from the peak.

Phil Miller

Features Birding · Cave · Fall Colors · Geological Significance · Historical Significance · Lake

Need to Know

Free, small parking lot. Be respectful and make room for others.


This is a steep hike that snakes its way up the ridge from the trailhead to the peak of Turtle Mountain, which is also known as Caballo Cone. The hike follows the ridge of the northern Caballo Mountains along a rock formation called the Nakaye Formation that is a part of the Magdalena Group. The Nakaye formation was deposited in the Pennsylvanian meaning the rock was formed between 299–323.2 Million years ago. The rock was turned on its side (in some places as much as 65° and 90°, but even more uncommonly and stunning the bed is overturned to 75°; meaning it is now resting upside down) by the hot springs fault that runs N–S along the western edge of the Caballo Mountains.

To the east younger Permian formations (Abo: deep-red rocks, and Yeso; yellow-orange rocks) can be seen as well. On the horizon rocks of the Late Cretaceous can be seen as well but are harder to identify from the ridge vantage point.

The trail provides views of Elephant Butte lake for most of the hike, and both Elephant Butte and Caballo lakes can be viewed from the Caballo Cone/Turtle Mountain peak. The little town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is a permanent fixture of the hike.

Flora & Fauna

Tarantulas, Tarantula Hawk Wasps, millipedes, butterflies, foxes, and coyotes to name a few. There are plenty of birds of prey that can be seen in the air and perched nearby the trail. There are certainly rattlesnakes that can be seen in the summer. Ocotillo (which prefers to grow on limestone), and prickly pear cactus are common, as well as sage mesquite and yucca.

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Nov 3, 2019
Phil Miller
5mi — 4h 10m

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  5.0 from 1 vote


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in New Mexico


7 Views Last Month
7 Since Nov 4, 2019
Extremely Difficult



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