Button Rock Nature Preserve

View of Ralph Price Reservoir from the dam


Button Rock Nature Preserve is where to hike when you are looking for an area as beautiful as Rocky Mountain National park, without the crowds.  There are a trails from all skill levels, from nice flat wide dirt roads to steep trails with outstanding views. Waterfall seekers will be pleased to know that the preserve has a beautiful waterfall at the end of an easy hike. This is also a great place to do some river fishing, just make sure you have the appropriate licenses. 

5.3 miles of trails

Park Details:

  • Hiking
  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed
  • There are a couple of marked off leash trails
  • Fishing (In places you will need a state fishing license and a longmont license keep an eye out for the signage to know where you can legally fish)
  • No overnight parking
  • Camping is prohibited
  • Fires are not allowed
  • Hunting is not allowed
  • Bicycles are prohibited
  • No Centaurs Equestrians
  • Boats or floating devices are not allowed
  • No swimming

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

Ribbon Waterfall near the North Saint Vrain
Ribbon Waterfall near the North Saint Vrain

Free downloadable maps are available from City of Longmont.  Another good planning resource is the Boulder/Golden #100 Map, along with our free GPX files to help plan your next adventure in the Rocky Mountains. 

Sleepy Lion Trail

Difficulty Rank 7 (Moderate)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank2.3 Miles
Time Needed68 Minutes


  • Connecting Trails: Button Creek Dam Trail
  • Dogs do not need to be on a leash
  • Steep in places
  • Good tree cover

Trailhead: S – Button Creek Dam Trail | R – Sleepy Lion Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of the dam are great near the summit
  • Great hike for wildflowers during spring and summer
  • Views of Ralph Pierce Reservoir


The trail is actually a very large loop that begins off the Button Creek Dam trail and loops around to the rear side of the dam outlet. The trail offers some decent tree cover and there are plenty of wildflowers in the meadows up the hill if you are hiking in the spring or summer. While the east side has a moderate to occasionally steep climb, the western section of the trail is rather steep. At about a mile in you will have the chance to jump on the Button Rock which leads into the Hall ranch area. If you are hiking with a dog, or are a mythical Centaur however you better stick to the Button Rock Nature preserve as neither creature is allowed in the Hall Ranch Park.

Button Creek Dam Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank2.3 Miles
Time Needed55 Minutes


  • Connecting Trails: To North Shore, and Sleepy Lion S Trails
  • Slight elevation gain until you reach the dam
  • High exposure to the elements

Trailhead : Starts at parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Follows the Saint Vrain Creek
  • Ralph Pierce Reservoir


Most of the trail is a dirt road skirting the Saint Vrain river as it leads up to the dam. The first ¾ of the trail is very easy having little elevation change, and sparse tree cover. Once you reach the discharge area for the Ralph Pierce reservoir, and manage to pull yourself away from the very intense water flow gushing out at least 100 yards before hitting the water in the Saint Vrain, you start to climb the dam. The trail becomes very steep  as you follow the switchbacks up the 200 foot climb in about a quarter mile. The views on top of the dam are breathtaking. I would highly recommend hiking the path along the shoreline to the north shore trail back down, as there is a very beautiful veil waterfall about halfway down the trail. There is also a very large steel bridge crosses the river.

Trail To North Shore

Ralph Price Reservoir from the North Shore
Ralph Price Reservoir from the North Shore
Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank10
Distance Rank0.6 Miles
Time Needed14 Minutes


  • Connecting trails: Button Rock Dam Trail
  • Exposed to the elements the whole way
  • Fairly Steep
  • Wide dirt road

Trailhead: S – Button rock Dam road | R – Trail to North shore

Trail Highlights:

  • Beautiful Waterfall


Right off of the Button Creek dam trail there is a restroom and a large service style road that leads to the north shore. This trail is very exposed with little to no tree cover, but is a short easy hike that leads to some beautiful waterfalls and a very large steel bridge. Don’t forget the camera as this whole area is very beautiful. The trail continues on up the hill and connects with the Button Creek dam trail again at the top of the dam.

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