Rabbits Ear Trail Date: 3/28/2011 Difficulty: Moderate Miles: Approx. 6 miles round trip Rating: Time: 3 hours Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39°12’59.11″N , 108°57’17.11″W
Rabbits Ear trail is located in the Rabbit Valley Recreation Area which is also part of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation area. The Rabbit Valley Area has long been a popular location for people around Grand Junction and the Fruita area. There are plenty of recreational opportunities for everyone including hiking, camping, horseback riding, and atv use.
To access the trail head you need to travel approximately 30 miles west on Interstate 70 until you come to the Rabbit Valley off ramp. This will be Exit #2. Exit the Interstate and turn left at the top, cross over the interstate and go past the kiosk and cattle guard then take your first left. Continue driving east on a well maintained gravel road for about 4 ½ miles. The trail head is located at a small parking area off the road to your right.
The trail begins climbing straight from the beginning, although it is up most of the way the climb really isn’t too steep. The trail basically has about two levels and then the top so you have opportunities to give your legs a break.
Once you reach the first level the trail follows along a ridge for a short distance. There’s a couple stock ponds down in the valley on your right and in the distance on your left are Mack, Loma and Fruita. From this point the trail drops down into a small gulch then begins climbing back up to the next level.
As the trail continues up to the top of the mesa you will come to a rough sandstone area and immediately after that you pass through an interesting notch in the cliff face. As you exit out the other side of the notch you will have nice views of the Monument and Grand Junction to your left and the Colorado River twisting below you. From here the trail meanders along the base of the cliff. From this point the trail is fairly level until it comes to a faint fork.
At this point you can either take the left or right fork. I opted for the left fork. I think taking the left fork is a nicer route to take due to the fact that all of the great views are in front of you. If you went the right fork it would seem like a lot of the views would be behind you. The climb up this section to the top of the mesa is probably the steepest part of the whole trail. The climb is pretty steep but shouldn’t give anyone any problems unless it’s muddy. Once you reach the top of the mesa the trail levels off and remains basically flat the rest of the way around the mesa top.
Once you reach the top the effort it took to get there is rewarded with some outstanding views. You’ve got Grand Mesa and the Colorado National Monument off in the distance to you left, The Black Ridge Wilderness with the mouth of Mee Canyon in front of you and Utah and the La Sal mountains in the distance on your right. Unfortunately on the day I went Mother Nature was not cooperating and a nice blanket of clouds and snow disrupted most of my views.
Once you’re done enjoying the views you can either continue along as the trail follows the rim of the mesa or turn back and return the way you came. I continued following the trail as it traveled around the mesa top then gradually worked its way back down towards the beginning of the trail.
Overall this was really a great trail. The BLM has done some extensive work by making steps in areas and even carving out some spots in the sandstone. It reminded me a lot of some of the trails in the Colorado National Monument. I rated the trail moderate due to the steady climb up and the distance. I didn’t see much in the way of wildlife or historic features but the views were awesome even considering they were limited by the weather. The one thing I didn’t care for about the trail was the steady hum of traffic on the interstate that is inherent with the trails in this area. The closer I got to the river the less I could hear the traffic.