The Button Rock trailhead is a family friendly hiking trail with beautiful views along the North St. Vrain Creek. The trail has a loop option that takes hikers to Button Rock Dam and the Ralph Price Reservoir. This trail is on a dirt road, so hiking remains very simple, strollers can be used, and you’ll find many anglers fishing along the way. There is also an additional option along the Sleepy Lion trail which adds a little more distance and difficulty.
Hikers can choose to do the entire loop, turn around at any point.
Height: Trailhead @ 6,004 ft (1830.02 meters) Highest Point @ 6,447 ft (1965.05 meters)
Distance: 4.41 miles (7.10 km)
Elevation Gain: 833 feet (253.90 meters)
Duration: 2 – 3 hours (dependent on hiker’s ability)
Difficulty: Moderate – Strenuous
Need to Know: No biking allowed. Dogs are allowed.
Button Rock Dam To Ralph Price Reservoir Loop – 4.41 Miles Round Trip – 833 Feet Elevation Gain
This is our recommended family friendly loop hike. Hikers start out along the Longmont Dam road at the Button Rock Trailhead and simply follow the road all the way until Button Rock Dam. The entire route to the dam has gorgeous views of the North St. Vrain, passes by rock climbing areas, and great fishing holes.
1.5 miles in, hikers reach the junction of the loop (a bathroom is located here). To the left is towards the dam, and to the right heads up towards Ralph Price Reservoir. If doing the loop, we recommend you head towards the dam first, as it is better to hike up the steeper section at the dam than down it. Hikers will reach the dam, and bear right up the right hand side of the dam. The trail switchbacks to gain elevation to reach the top of the dam.
Hikers bear right to complete the loop and head back towards the trailhead.
Sleepy Lion Trail Trail & Ralph Price Reservoir Loop – 5.32 Miles – 1,207 Feet Elevation Gain
If your hiking group is feeling up for a slightly more difficult route, we recommend bearing left off the road to the dam to hike along the Sleepy Lion Trail. This trail has more elevation gain, but gives hikers a stunning view of Button Rock Dam and the Ralph Price Reservoir down below. The sleepy lion trail is .86 miles from the trailhead.
Hikers can also choose to take this trail but then simply descend down to Button Rock dam and exit out via the road. This will cut out some mileage if interested.
Other Trail Options
Hikers can choose to walk as far as they please and turn around on the main road. Also, the dirt road is well maintained all the way to Button Rock Dam, or to Ralph Price Reservoir if they bear right before reaching Button Rock Dam.
Ralph Price Reservoir
There are also trails going part way around the lake (North Shore Trail) that hikers can continue on. There is a lot of gorgeous wildlife like deer, eagles, osprey and many other birds around. There is no camping or swimming in this area.
We created the trail map below for your use. We also linked to our GPX files below this if interested.
We also have the county map for you here: Button Rock Preserve County Map
A special permit is required to fish at Ralph Price Reservoir
While anglers do not need a special permit to fish the North St. Vrain Creek along the way to the reservoir, anglers need a special permit to actually fish the Ralph Price Reservoir. These permits can be purchased from the City of Longmont at the City Clerk’s office. Permits become available on sale the 1st week in April. Only 600 annual permits are issued each year.
In addition, anglers can purchase a day use fishing permit that become available on May, 18th each year. These permits are $10.00 each and there are only 100 available each year.
Annual fishing permits are $30.00 for non-residents, and $20.00 for City of Longmont residents. For more permit information, contact the City Clerk (303.651.8649)
The permit allows you to fish from the shoreline with artificial flies and lures from May through October. The city of Longmont stocks the reservoir with brown and rainbow trout, and with splake, (a lake trout hybrid).
Hiking in Winter
This trail is a really great winter option due to the gradual gains. Of course, bring the proper equipment and traction for winter hiking.
Current Weather Conditions
Here is a detailed forecast for the next four days:
Directions & Parking
There is one large parking lot at the trailhead that still fills up quickly (about 60 cars). Families and hikers can park around .75 miles earlier on the road with overflow parking. We recommend arriving early to avoid the crowds. There is no fee here. Bikes are not allowed on the trail, but dogs are.
Here are directions to the main trailhead:
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about