Little Thompson Overlook Trail, Rabbit Mountain Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado
Little Thompson Overlook Trail - 2.9 miles
Rabbit Mountain Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||2.9 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,530' - 5,802' (5,888' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+272' net elevation gain (+444' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Little Thompson Overlook Trail - 2.9 Miles Round-Trip
Rabbit Mountain stands along a 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 plant and animal communities together from each.
The Little Thompson Overlook Trail runs along the east slope of a hogback to an outcrop with excellent views of the Eastern Plains and Little Thompson River. This easy out-and-back is ideal for running, biking, families and winter recreation. Visitors will enjoy diverse wildflowers and good wildlife viewing opportunities throughout:
The trail curls northeast to the back side of a steep-faced hogback. The Little Thompson River flows below, framed by another row of hogbacks to the east.
The Little Thompson River is lined by cottonwood and willow, which stand out in this otherwise open space. The trail rises nominally along the hogback's contours to its apex (1.15 miles : 5,888'), from which it drops gently to its terminus at the Little Thompson Overlook (1.45 miles : 5,802').
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.
Unique to Rabbit Mountain is its position three miles east of similar anticline formations along Colorado's northern Front Range communities.
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.
- N40 14.798 W105 13.420 — 0.0 miles : Rabbit Mountain Trailhead
- N40 14.977 W105 13.085 — .5 miles : Littel Thompson Overlook Trail junction
- N40 15.365 W105 13.236 — 1.0 mile mark
- N40 15.643 W105 13.219 — 1.45 miles : Overlook - end of trail
- Rabbit Mountain stands along a 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 plant and animal communities together from each. It's one of the few places in Northern Colorado where white-tail deer and mule deer populations overlap.
- 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.
Directions to Trailhead
The Rabbit Mountain Trailhead is located 2.8 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 1 mile. Turn left into N. 53rd Street and follow it 2.8 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