recommended this route to me the first time I climbed Red Cap; of the four routes I have climbed on the peak, it is the easiest to follow, has the least exposure, and has the easiest scrambling.
From Charleston Boulevard (Route 159) west of I-215 and Summerlin, turn onto the Scenic Drive in RRCNCA. Just before Mile 3, you reach the signed Sandstone Quarry area (it is the third developed pullout along the road); turn off and park here.
RT distance is about 2 miles, and elevation gain is about 650’ (4280’-4925’).
About 3 minutes along the Calico Tanks Trail from its junction with the Turtlehead Peak Trail (or about 5 minutes from the parking area), you will reach a spot where the trail bends sharply to the right as it meets a wide, gravelly wash. Leave the trail and follow this wash-- avoid going left when you intersect another fairly wide wash-- through and over some small dryfalls and narrow sections that would feel like slot canyons if the walls were a bit higher. This wash will take you into open terrain near the left end of the peak’s western face; from there, look for a use trail that runs parallel to the north face of Red Cap.
The “White Gully” is the first significant gully you will see; look for a cairn on a boulder about 15’ or so up the gully (the photo shows the gully and the cairn).
Climb this Class 3 gully; turn around once in a while to check out the interesting views of Turtlehead Peak through the narrowing walls. At the top, where the rock to your left changes to red, look for a tree growing next to the wall to your left. You must climb this wall, which unfortunately is smooth and, although not high, just high enough to present a problem. When I climbed the route, there was a cairn serving as a “step” wedged between the tree and the wall, and this cairn was a great help, even if it made me feel a little dishonest for using it. Without the cairn, the pitch to get up to the red summit area would arguably be low Class 5. With it, the pitch is Class 3 or 4; go expecting Class 4 so there won’t be any shocks. There is also another option a short distance to the right; it is a short Class 4 pitch that is mostly a friction climb but does have some small holds. Photos below show both options.
SP member Stu Brandel
found an easier way up about 150' south of the cairn step and tree. He says it is a little bit of Class 4 at the end but easier than the wall. Please see below for two pictures depicting this option and read the captions for additional information.
Once up, hike uphill, keeping to your right, until you reach the tinaja below the summit block. If the water is gone and the depression is not obvious, look for a conical red outcrop on the right near the cliff edges; the tinaja is directly to the left of this outcrop.
By the tinaja, notice a crack about 8' high (pictured below). Climb it (marginally Class 4, could get harder if small holds break off, though) and then wander a short distance counterclockwise until you reach an easy break that gives up the summit itself.