Road Trip to the Rockies: Button Rock Preserve

Button Rock Preserve

Trail(s): Sleepy Lion Trail
Location: Button Rock Preserve
Fees: Free
Distance: 4.7 miles
Dogs Allowed: Yes

I was pleasantly surprised by Button Rock Preserve, operated by the City of Longmont.  Many time, “Preserve” is synonymous with “No Dogs Allowed”, but this preserve had a leash, off-leash, and no dogs allowed area.

I got a late start this morning and I didn’t arrive to the trailhead until around noon.  I expected that many people would be finishing up their 4.7 mile hike, but the parking lot was full of families, hikers, climbers, and dogs on this sunny, yet crisp winter day.

The beginning of the trail follows a slightly graded dirt road.  Generally, hiking up a road with lots of people isn’t my favorite type of hike, but it passes by climbing cliffs, a dam, and the small Longmont Reservoir which just look like a wide, slow moving portion of the North St. Vrain Creek which is also skirted by the road all within 3/4 of a mile.

Here, there is a turn off to Sleepy Lion Trail which is an off-leash area for dogs.  The single-track trail climbs through an evergreen forest, through a meadow, and to a handful of wonderful rock outcroppings with spectacular views of Ralph Price Reservoir and the snow capped 14er, Long’s Peak.

Ernest and I took a little while to snack and enjoy the vista before we continued along the well marked trail which slowly widened to about a car width as it descended down the mountain to the base of the dam where water shoots into the creek.

The sun shined on the spraying water creating rainbow colors which we admired before crossing to the service road and heading back to the parking lot.  The hike was very easy, beginning around 6,000 and only gaining about 600 feet over the first two miles.

I really enjoyed this jaunt in the woods at Button Rock Preserve which was only an hour drive from home.  I’d highly recommend hiking the Sleepy Lion Trail during the winter and spring.  It might be on the hot side in the summer, as there isn’t a ton of shade on the road.  ETB

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