Thursday, December 29, 2016

Rabbit Mountain - Where Eagles soar, and snakes are rattled

Rabbit Mountain is 1 of 27 trails/open space park areas managed by Boulder County, Colorado, and the closest to the city of Longmont. Rabbit Mountain was created when the earth began uplifting to create the Rocky Mountains, and a fault line shifted this ridge slightly east of the foothills.

The Arapaho Indians once called the area home, the mountain created shelter from the westerly winds, and was abundant with edible plants and game to hunt. Prospectors came along in the middle of the 19th Century hoping to strike it rich from Gold, but the wealth was in short supply and many turned to farming. Boulder County acquired the Open Space area in 1984 for all to enjoy, and help protect its natural state.

Rabbit Mountain trailhead

The open space trail area is accessed from Highway 66/North 53rd Street just east of the town of Lyons, and to the west of the City of Longmont, there is parking for 41 cars.
Trails: Eagle Wind Trail (2.5 miles) - Indian Mesa Trail (2.2 miles) - Little Thompson Overlook Trail (1.5 miles)

My personal favourite of the 3 trails is Eagle Wind, it is a loop trail, and passes by rocky cliffs, through Ponderosa Pines, prairie-like meadows, and has views in all directions. All 3 trails start from the car park, and head uphill in an easterly direction for 0.5 mile until they split. This first 0.5 mile gains approximately 185 feet in elevation and is a moderate uphill.

The northerly section of the Eagle Wind Trail looking north

Eagle Wind Trail looking west

The Eagle Wind Trail is reasonably flat after approximately a mile of hiking from the car park, but can often live up to its name of Eagle "Wind" if there is a westerly blowing!.

Eagle Wind Trail

Eagle Wind Trail

Rabbit Mountain is home to many wildflowers in the Spring and Summer, and many animals, reptiles and birds. In fact, the area used to be called "Rattlesnake Mountain", and for good reason!. I myself have seen a rattlesnake on the fire road leading from the car park, but you are more likely to see Deer and a wide variety of birds. Golden Eagles can be seen soaring overhead, they nest on the southerly tip of the mountain (no access December 15 thru July 15).

Plenty of spots to sit and view the scenery or watch the wildlife

Beautiful views to the north from the Eagle Wind Trail

The Little Thompson Overlook Trail is an out-n-back hike to a beautiful cliff area overlooking the river, this is my second favourite trail.

Connector Trail leading to the Little Thompson Overlook

Little Thompson Overlook

The Indian Mesa Trail is also an out-n-back, and follows a fire road. This trail is, in my opinion the least scenic of the 3, but does take you down to the Little Thompson valley and has good views looking east.

Indian Mesa Trail looking westerly

Rabbit Mountain Open Space can be enjoyed by people of all ages, whether on foot, horse, or mountain bike. Dogs are also allowed as long as they are on a lease. The Park is open sunrise to sunset all year round, as are all of Boulder County Parks.

Trail users of all ages

Essential info:

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