Go Huntin' Wabbit
There are three main Rabbit Ears visible from the east side of the Organ Mountains, and therefore 3 Rabbit Ears. All three require technical climbing skill and equipment. For the hiker and scrambler, on the southwest side of the Rabbit Ear Massif is the Rabbit Ears Plateau. Rabbit Ears Plateau is one of the lesser summits of the range at 8,010', but it has a lot of prominence and spectacular views. Also, if you have the time, you may want to explore the forested plateau area beyond the summit. It appears to have one of the few actual pine forests in the Organ Mountains.
The hike begins at the jeep road parking area 1.7 miles south of the Baylor Pass Trailhead. There is a small parking area at a turn around just over the jeep road's cattle grate. The road was in fine shape for my civic to this point, and it probably could have gone further, but it detracts from the hike. A high clearance or 4 wheel drive could easily get higher. Either way, proceed up the jeep road. About a half a mile in, you'll encounter the old rock building, and about another half mile later, you'll come to the mine. The hike to this point has incredible views of the Organs, and is very easy to follow. You may want to explore the mine a little, and move on after.
At the mine, look for the Iron Door (yes, the Organ Mountains have at least one) and locate one of the trails that climb above it. These trails pass by the collapsed mine tunnel, so be careful here. Basically, the trails converge and climb gradually towards the Big Windy Canyon, which is to the north. The name is very appropriate.
The trail moves towards the mouth of the canyon over limestone, which composes the entirety of the San Andreas Mountains to the north, and Franklin Mountains to the south, as well as the southern end of the Organ Mountains. Most places near the high peaks of the Organs are either the dramatic quartz monzonite, or the gray rhyolite seen south of Filmore Canyon, but here we have limestone. The mine was in the limestone, so it could be metamorphosed slightly, and have some precious metals in it. Either way, the hike crosses it before dropping very, very slightly into Big Windy Canyon.
Almost immediately after entering the canyon, the trail disappears. Rock cairns, small sections of trail, and obvious paths provide the way. Once you start to encounter boulders and rocks, the hike become a mix of scrambling and hiking. It never really stops. This is actually a harder hike than Organ Needle, though more fun, as you use your upper body for most of it. However, you don't have a rough eroded dirt trail, you have boulders, incredible scenery, and a very fun route.
From the beginning of the bouldering, your route forms a gentle arc through the canyon moving to a saddle between South Rabbit Ear and the Rabbit Ear Plateau. The saddle looks more or less east-southeast. Be careful not to leave the canyon floor early on. The correct route stays lower, down on the rocks, and avoids vegetated slopes. Cairns lead the way, and only a few locations down low require moving through vegetation. As the Canyon narrows, with the high buttresses of the Plateau on the south side, the north side will have the three Rabbit Ears above you. Much of the upper portions of the canyon are steps of rock mixed with boulders. It's a fun hike here.
Nearing the saddle, you start to encounter trail in the vegetation. Once in the saddle, above you to the north is South Rabbit Ear, with it's nearly shear south face, and to the southwest is the Plateau. A faint trail leads up towards it. It never really is a clear route, but staying low on duff and going around the trees may be easier. There is no need to be on rock here. You can work your way up, or go around a worn and sliding scree gully with a half burnt log next to it. Above that, it is a pretty easy scramble to the summit. Nearing the summit, if you find yourself going through thick vegetation, you are off-route. The trail to the top is obvious, or close to obvious. Also, the summit has an oak shrub growing near it which may help guide the way. However, the oak might be more noticeable on top. The summit is a nice large block of monzonite and is easy to get up onto. Descend the way you came, or explore the plateau a little and then head down.
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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