Kokopelli - Rabbit Valley Section

Rating: 
One-way Distance: 20.7 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 4329 - 4996 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 3 hrs. 15 mins.
Trailhead: Rabbit Valley
Fee: none
Attractions: Multi use




The Rabbit Valley section of the Kokopelli trail begins in Rabbit Valley where it travels out to the Utah Border and enters the BLM Utah Rims Management Area. From there it travels up the valley of Bitter Creek where it is contacted to by the Zion Curtain trail. At that point it begins a steep climb that takes it up to the Rim Trail near a campground. The trail turns southward across the mesa and then starts a long gradual descent the leads to the Westwater Road. The last few miles of the trail follow the Westwater Road to where it crosses under the railroad tracks and the Cisco Section of the Kokopelli Trail begins.


The Rabbit Valley trailhead is just south of Exit 2 on Interstate 70 near the Utah border. Bikepackers will probably be starting from the Rabbit Valley Campground a little further down the trail or from some other camping spot.


From the trailhead the route is easy to follow by watching for the Kokopelli trail markers. This section of the Kokopelli trail is 100% double track. There are several singletrack optional routes along the way beginning with Trail 2. It dumps back out onto the Kokopelli Trail near Castle Rocks and then branches off again and rejoins once more near the Western Rim trail.


The official route of the trail takes it by the Rabbit Valley campground. From there it enters a wash near the point where the Jouflas Horse trail branches off on the left. As it travels up the wash it enters the McDonald Creek Cultural Resources Area and at the point where it climbs out of the wash the Kokopelli Trail is rejoined by Trail 2 which begins sharing routes with it.


The route gets sandy as it passes through the Castle Rocks area. There is a small camping area on the right and across the road on the left is the McDonald Creek trailhead with vault toilets at both locations. The trail goes through another wash just around the corner and Trail 2 branches off once again on the right.


There are several forks in the road as the trail continues heading south. The route is easy to follow with Kokopelli Trail markers at each intersection. Near the 4.6 mile point the trail crosses the Colorado/Utah border where it leaves Rabbit Valley and enters the Utah Rims management area.


Just past the 5 mile point the trail reaches a temporary elevation high point. It is here that the Western Rim trail branches off on the left and Trail 2 reconnects on the right. The Western Rim trail can serve as another alternate singletrack route.


A look at the elevation profile for this section of the trail shows how the hills are laid out. The Utah border is just before the first high point. After that the trail drops down into the valley and turns north by northwest. The trail climbs very steeply to get out of the valley and up on the rim. After that there is a lot of well earned downhill to look forward to.


Just past the 6 mile point the trail passes through a gate. Soon afterwards you can look down and see the Western Rim trail coursing along a bench below. With such incredible scenery it is easy to see why the Western Rim trail is a local favorite.


The next 4 miles of the trail moves along at a pretty good clip over a mostly smooth dirt track with only a few minor washes and hills to slow you down.


Just past the 11 mile point the Zion Curtain trail connects on the right. At this point the Kokopelli trail turns into a small side drainage where the big climb begins.


Bikepackers that are weighed down with gear are going to end up pushing their bike most of the way up the hill. We were traveling light and managed to grind our way up it stopping 3 or 4 times to put our lungs back in our chests.


The top of the hill is reached right at the 12 mile point. There is a fork on the left that leads to a campground and the top of the Rim trail. The Kokopelli trail rolls downhill to a fork where it turns toward the south and continues along some sweet dirt track that is occasionally interrupted by rocky seams of sandstone.


After the trail reaches its highest point of elevation for this section the rocky ledges become the dominant feature. We've traveled this spot several times in both directions and have kind of gotten used to it.


The rocky ledges give way to a very fast downhill stretch that leads to the Westwater Road a little over the 17 mile point.


The Westwater Road comes up as a well earned downhill blast that lasts for almost 3.5 miles. At the point where the road passes beneath the railroad tracks the Kokopelli trail leaves it and branches off on the right. There are a few campsites and a vault toilet about another mile down the road at the Westwater Boat Launch on the Colorado River. Traveling light it took us just over 3 hours to reach this spot from Rabbit Valley and that included stopping 190 times to take a picture. The Cisco Section of the Kokopelli Trail is 24 miles and took us 3.5 hours and that was traveling light once again. As far as the Rabbit Valley Section goes, if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.