Calico 3 Peaks Quick Loop

H.W. Stockman
Feb 1, 2005

This route is fun, with a lot of variation, especially after a cool wet winter. However, there are a few caveats. This trip is ~8 miles, with ~3000' accumulated elevation gain. Most of the route is trailless, and is rugged. The exit east of Calico Tank is very tricky, and should be done only after you have gone with a person experienced in this area, or with a very good GPS track and favorable satellites (e-mail me* if you really want a GPS track, which you can use at your own risk). You must pick your way down ledges in the last mile of the hike, and it isn't good to rush that process. More of the last part of the hike can be seen here. This route could be fatally hot April through September; please use common sense about water and heat.

Though I often describe Kraft Mt. as one "peak", the top is quite serrated, and one must lose ~100' elevation at least twice. There is always a class 2 way on Kraft Mt., but an unwary traveler may end up on seemingly impassable cliffs. El Hijo is made of fairly sturdy limestone, but few ever go there, so the route is not cleared of loose rocks, and handholds must be thoroughly tested before they are trusted with human weight. The northern route up Turtlehead Jr. (Redcap) quickly becomes class 4 if you make a wrong turn (I've done that twice).

I started late (12:30 PM) and finished the hike in 4 hours. I was really moving when I could-- the tops of the ridges don't allow much more than 1 mph, as the footing is tricky. Give yourself plenty of time if you don't know this route -- say, 8 hours.

(I made up the names El Hijo and Tia Grande; I've found no previous names applied to these peaks. "El Hijo" means "The Son", and is a takeoff on La Madre and El Padre peaks, which are much higher but similar in form. Call them whatever you want. I put a register on El Hijo, but someone erased the name and put in "New Peak" in its stead; hmmm.)


The numbers (dark red) are keyed to the photos.

A map showing more hikes in the same area is here.


1. View east from 2nd Peak of Kraft Mt. The top is quite ragged, but, made of attractive candy-cane sandstone.


2. Another view ~east, showing the ragged top.





3. SE toward Calico Basin from El Hijo.


4. West from the same point, view of the top of El Hijo. This photo was taken a year before.


5. View west from the top of El Hijo. Here are peak names.





6. View east from El Hijo, over Kraft Mt., to Vegas.


7. Up the N side of Turtlehead Jr. (Red Cap); one route goes up this tunnel.


8. Top of Turtlehead Jr., view west to White Rock Hills and Big Mama. Notice the waves on the tinaja -- it was a very windy day, and there were actually a few whitecaps.





9. View east from top of Turtlehead Jr. El Hijo is the grey peak at left; Kraft Mt. is peeking out just right of El Hijo.


9. Heading east on Calico Tanks trail.


10. The big Calico tank was quite full. (View WNW.) Note people on left.





11. View ESE as sun gets low. Black Mountain is in far distance, Blue Diamond Hill is to the right in middle distance.

12. Black Mt. from Calico Basin (telephoto).





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