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Redcap - Red Rock Canyon

A demanding backcounty extension off the popular Calico Tanks trail to the summit of Redcap Peak. Aka: Turtlehead Jr.
Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 2.4 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours

Overview :  Calico Hills is a grouping of colorful sandstone formations north of the entrance to the Scenic Loop Road. Popular with hikers,... more »

Tips:  Backcountry Route! Safely hiking backcountry routes depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Parking, Trailhead and Restrooms

Follow I-215 (Las Vegas Beltway) to W Charleston Blvd. Proceed west on hwy-159 to the Red Rock Canyon. Entrance fee is $7.00 per day. Enter the scenic loop drive (one way only) and turn off at the sandstone quarry. A loop to a large asphalt parking area sits directly off the scenic loop drive. Restrooms available.

2. Turtlehead Mountain - Calico Tanks Junction

Stay to the hikers right and follow the Calico Tanks trail.

3. Leave gravel wash for sand

The trail leaves the gravel wash and turns east, up and over into a small sandy ravine. Small steps and boulders become normal, contine to follow the well worn trail. Use caution as high traffic leaves the rock slick and covered with sand.

4. White Boulder Cairn

Access to the upper cliff bands is through a vegetative wash. The spot is marked with large white boulders forming a natural cairn on the otherwise red rock.

Leave the main Calico Tanks trail and begin to work up the wash. This class 2 scramble is mainly loose rock and choss.

5. Class 2 Wash Scramble

This class 2 wash scramble is mainly loose rock and choss. Easy to negotiate, the wash ends at a large Juniper tree. Turn to the hikers right and proceed out onto a prominent point.

6. Cliff band view

Beautiful views over Calico Hills to the main mountain peaks of Red Rock Canyon. Views down and back along the Calico Tanks trail, it is easy to spot people hiking along the wash. Turning east again, proceed up the next short wash

7. Duel Buttress

Proceed up the next short wash (class 2 scramble) and squeeze through the duel buttress. Arriving at the small plateau.

8. Junction Cairn and False Summit Wash

At the end of the small plateau look for a cairn next to a wash. Two washes actually, both headed north. On the hikers right (east) is a class 2+ scramble wash. To arrive in the second wash (west) would be a difficult class 3+ or 4 climb (15'). The west wash allows quick access to the final summit scramble. If your skills permit enter western... More

9. False Summit and Northern wash workaround

From the false summit proceed north, a wash is running off the northern face (class 2). Drop down about 50' circle around and climb back up the second wash to the approach (just below a "chockstone" type boulder).

10. Access to summit area

Standing just below the "chockstone" proceed with caution south, then west, up a class 3+ narrow ledge system to arrive at the summit area

11. Crux access to summit

The crux of the scramble is a class 3+ 8' crack to the summit; a mushroom shaped dome sitting on the southeastern edge of the summit bowl area.

Good hand and feet positions make the move simple enough, but allow the strongest climber of the group to go first and belay weaker climbers. The crack allows for ample palm wedges and grips.

12. Summit of Redcap

The summit is a small sandstone bowl atop the mushroom shaped dome. A large white rock creates the summit cairn and secures the registration container.

13. Summit area and desert tank

Wander around the summit area slickrock. The beautiful desert tank is shallow, but usually contains water. The entire red slickrock area is a beautiful area to explore.

14. Exit by way of desert tank and chockstone

Exit by way of the large (almost chockstone)boulder sitting at the eastern end of the desert tank. Use webbing or rope to act as a hand line for descent back into the wash (escaping the class 3+ down climb).

15. Return by same route

Return to the Calico Tanks trail following the same route through the wash system.