Eagle Wind Trail, Rabbit Mountain Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
Eagle Wind Trail - 3.95 miles
Rabbit Mountain Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||3.95 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,530' - 5,530' (5,886' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+336' net elevation gain (+472' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
140 million years ago the Rabbit Mountain area marked the western shoreline of a massive inland sea that stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Hudson Bay. It was a tropical lowland covered by rivers, swamps, and lagoons. This sea retreated approximately 65 million years ago when tectonic forces pulled upon the earth's crust, resulting in a western uplift that gave rise to the Rocky Mountains.
The uplift's ripples caused rocks to compress and bulge at its base, creating anticlines - or convex folds on the earth's surface. As the bulging anticline's softer sediments eroded, only hard ridges - known as Hogbacks - remained from the previously rounded hilltops.
Rabbit Mountain's position three miles east of similar anticline formations along Colorado's northern Front Range is unique. The complex movements of two faults in the area pushed these eroding anticlines east, and with a rare orientation: their steepest sides face east, and gentler slopes to the west. This unusual location and orientation make it a natural landmark visible from three counties.
Today Rabbit Mountain stands along this divisive uplift between the Saint Vrain drainage basin (south) and Big Thompson drainage basin (north).
Here the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountain upslope, a rich ecological juxtaposition that brings wildlife communities together from each - notably white tail deer and mule deer - an uncommon occurrence in Colorado. Coyote, fox, rabbit, raptors and rattlesnakes also call this area home.
The Eagle Wind Trail - a lollipop loop - leads up and around the west slope of Rabbit Mountain with terrific views of the Eastern Plains, Continental Divide, and Colorado Front Range. Hikers, runners, cyclists and winter recreationalists will enjoy mild grades, good trail conditions, and wildlife viewing throughout.
The trail heads northeast from the parking area on a winding course to the Little Thompson Overlook Trail split (.5 miles : 5,712'). Follow signs and (right) across the saddle spanning a hogback (north) and the plateau around which the Eagle Wind Trail loops (southeast).
Continue over the service road (which provides access to the Indian Mesa Trail) to the beginning of the Eagle Wind Trail Loop (1.0 mile : 5,802'). The following description travels clockwise on the loop:
The trail levels atop a sparsely treed mesa with rangy panoramas of the Front Range, Continental Divide and Eastern Plains. Mountain mahogany, ponderosa and pinyon pine dot the expansive tract before you, brightened by an array of sage, switchgrass, and array of wildflowers. You'll merge briefly with a service road (1.45 miles : 5,825') through a wide clearing with views of Mt Meeker (13,911'), Longs Peak (14,259') and the Twin Sisters (11,428' - 11,413'). Veer off the service road (1.55 miles) and continue across the mesa.
In about two miles the trail turns sharply back northwest to begin the second, lower portion of the loop. This section undulates gently through heavier brush back to the beginning of the loop (2.95 miles : 5,802'). Just before completing the loop is an outcrop and interpretive sign that identifies peaks all along the Front Range and Continental Divide, from the Eldorado Canyon Area (south of Boulder) to Rocky Mountain National Park (north). Retrace your steps back to the parking area (3.95 miles : 5,530).
Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84View Interactive Google Map
- N40 14.798 W105 13.420 — Rabbit Mountain Trailhead
- N40 14.977 W105 13.085 — .5 miles : Little Thompson Overlook Trail junction
- N40 14.689 W105 12.795 — 1 miles : Eagle Wind Trail - begin loop
- N40 14.434 W105 12.467 — 1.5 miles : Clearing with westerly views
- N40 14.210 W105 12.416 — 2.25 miles : Travel on west (lower) half of loop
- N40 14.689 W105 12.795 — 2.95 miles : Complete Loop
- N40 14.798 W105 13.420 — 3.95 miles: Rabbit Mountain Trailhead
- Fault movements in the Rabbit Mountain area have cracked rock under-layers, freeing water trapped beneath the surface to rise. There are seven natural springs in the Rabbit Mountain area.
- The rich hills and recognizable buttes of Rabbit Mountain have been used by ancient peoples dating back over 5,000 years. As indigenous Indians were displaced by western settlers seeking gold, the land became an agricultural mecca for homesteaders in the area. Eventually, the granddaughter of former owner and forest ranger Jack Moomaw sold the land to Boulder County in 1984.
- Prairie Rattlesnakes are common to the Rabbit Mountain area. While seldom seen and encounters are rare, be cognizant of their presence and never place your hands or feet where you cannot see them.
Directions to Trailhead
The Rabbit Mountain Trailhead is located 2 miles north of Highway 66 on N. 53rd Street.
Head north on Highway 36 out of town towards Lyons. Highway 36 will dead end into Highway 66. Turn right on Highway 66 and continue for about 1 mile. Turn left into N. 53rd Street and follow it 2 miles until you see the Rabbit Mountain sign and parking lot on the right.
Boulder County Parks & Open Space
5201 St. Vrain Road
Longmont, Colorado 80503