Round Trip Distance: 6.6 miles
Elevation: 4987 - 5733 feet
Cellphone: 1-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - Biking - Equestrian - Dogs
Time: 4 hrs.
Facilities: Vault Toilet on road in.
Trailhead: Rabbit's Ear
View Rabbit's Ear Trail in a larger map
The Rabbit's Ear Trail is located in the Rabbit Valley Recreation Area west of Grand Junction, Colorado, 2 miles from the Utah line. The trail climbs up and along a ridge to the top of a mesa overlooking the Colorado River. There are spectacular vistas to behold from the Grand Mesa to the east and the La Sal Mountains to the west. You can view the Colorado River as it passes beneath Mary's Loop and the Lions Loop and makes a big bend at Salt Wash. To the west you can see the river pass by the mouth of Mees Canyon. All the trail descriptions we have read describe hiking for about 2.5 miles to the overlook. The trail can be followed in a loop for another 2.8 miles and that's the hike being described in this post.
After turning off I-70 at the Rabbit Valley exit at mile marker 2 we turned left and crossed over the interstate. The pavement ended on the other side of the interstate. We continued along the road for a hundred yards or so to the staging area and checked out the kiosks. After leaving the kiosks we took the first left and followed the gravel road for 4.5 miles to the Rabbit's Ear trailhead.
From the trailhead we hiked up a gradual slope on the backside of the first hill. This went on for about a quarter mile until we came to a saddle overlooking some stock ponds.
The trail followed the ridge of the next hill for awhile and then it headed up and around the back of that hill.
The trail continued to climb in a moderate fashion for about a mile and then came to a slot in the cliff where it passed through the sandstone ridge.
The hillsides were a patchwork of different colors from all the wildflowers that were in bloom. We went from yellow hews from goldenasters to purple washes of wild onions and vast blue fields of penstemons.
Right at 1.3 miles from the trailhead the trail comes to a fork at the beginning of the loop. If you are going to take the hike that was suggested on the kiosk and don't want to exceed 5 miles then you want to be sure to take the left fork. We were planning to hike the entire 4 mile loop but we still took the left fork and hiked the loop in a clockwise direction.
The trail climbed for about another quarter mile before leveling off as it crossed the east end of the mesa. We got into some pretty thick clouds of gnats crossing this side of the mesa.
Around 2.5 miles from the trailhead we were looking out over the Colorado River. The trail turned west and traveled along the rim of the mesa.
The elevation was pretty constant for the next 2.5 miles of hiking. It turned out being quite the rim hike around the mesa. It made for some pretty easy going.
For the last half mile of the loop the trail dropped off the mesa switching back and forth several times before eventually connecting back into the original trail.
"So, you guys want to see me do some push-ups?" Seriously, lizards will do push-ups when they feel threatened and that's what this little guy was doing.
Back through the slot, down the hill and on to the trailhead. It didn't seem like a 6 hour hike but I guess we goofed around quite a bit. I went through about 100 ounces of water and Gatorade on this hike. The temperature was around 80 F.
We found the Rabbit's Ear Trail to be an enjoyable hike. The BLM has invested a lot of work into the trail by moving and placing large stones to shore up the sides and to form stairs in several places. Large cairns, made from piling stones on top of each other, comprise the majority of the trail markers. The path is well worn and the route finding is easy to work out. I highly recommend hiking the entire loop if you're up to the little bit of extra distance. Since the extra distance is from hiking around the top of the mesa it doesn't really require that much additional effort. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.