The Cross Country Skiing Paradise on Rabbit Ears Pass

xc sking on rabbit ears pass colorado

World Class Cross Country Skiing on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Each time we come down from cross country skiing on Rabbit Ears Pass I’m planning when we can get back up there. Rabbit Ears Pass is a backcountry skiing paradise. It is a winter wonderland. Those who know its trails, hidden slopes, and nuances can’t get enough of it. For those who have never skied up there it’s time you discovered the pleasure.

Rabbit Ears Pass is known for its open parks, meadows, dense spruce forests, crazy deep snow, and endless possibilities for cross country touring and making turns with your touring skis or tele skis. The terrain can be deceiving. Driving across the pass some may get the impession it is pretty flat. Once you are out from behind the windshield and on your skis the true terrain reveals itself. Lots of climbs, plenty of places to make turns, thousands of acres to explore and see where your skis take you.

At just shy of 10,000 feet in elevation, Rabbit Ears Pass, is a mountain pass paradise.

From Steamboat Springs driving east – the first parking lot for xc skiers is the West Summit. There are three more parking areas going across the pass to access cross country and snowshoe trails. Bruce’s Trail is the second, Fox Curve the third, and Walton Creek is the fourth. From the Walton Creek access the skiing up to Telegraph Hill and North Walton Peak is tons of fun. You can also access the famous Hogan Park Trail which runs from Rabbit Ears Pass to the top of the Steamboat Resort Ski Area. Hogan Park is a classic tour.  None of these trails on the west side of the pass will disappoint you.

All the cross country trails are marked with blue diamonds nailed to trees or posted on stakes in open meadows. The diamonds are pretty easy to follow but, of course, you’ve listened to that small voice in the back of your head and brought a map and compass, to be smart.

The West Summit may be the most popular access simply because it is the first parking lot you come to from town. The 1A loop (3.7 miles) offers spectacular views of the Yampa Valley and the Flat Tops.

Bruce’s Trail (3.1 miles) is groomed for skate and classic skiing but only for a short time in the early part of winter. Grooming stops on Bruce’s once some track opens up in the valley. When the grooming stops then Bruce’s becomes a nice short backcountry trail that is cut wide to accommodate the Bombadier. Bruce’s is located at the bottom of a gully and except for the top of the trail can be in the shadows most of the day.

Fox Curve (3.6 miles) offers a great tour and seems to see the least amount of skiers. Lots of folks stop at the initial open meadow and go no further. If you are game and tour the designated loop you’ll be in for a great day on pass. Lots of climbs, lots of fun descents, and meandering meadows.

Walton Creek (1.9+ miles) skiers tend to b-line it to Telegraph Hill or to the top of North Walton Peak. Turning their skis is the goal and these two hills are a great place to find ’em. This parking lot is also the access to Hogan Park. The Hogan Park Trail goes from Rabbit Ears Pass to the top of the Steamboat Ski Area. This is a classic touring trail. Over hill and dale, over creeks and through parks… Great skiing with the option of skiing down the ski area to finish!

The cross country skiing up on Rabbit Ears Pass is world class. It is extra special and always fun to go explore again and again.


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