Sleepy Lion Hike at Button Rock Preserve

About a month ago we took off down the road looking for a new adventure. We drove a bit and then settled on a hike at Button Rock Preserve which was a fabulous choice. The map below shows the location of the trailhead. Zoom out a bit to show the reservoir. 🙂

The trailhead is just northwest of Lyons, CO off of US-36. Head north out of Lyons towards Estes Park and look for Longmont Dam Road on the left. Follow that to the trailhead.

There are a number of different hikes here. We chose at random while we were out and ended up heading up the Sleepy Lion trail off to the left about halfway to the dam. This was our route:

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The path starts out as a wide gravel road heading up out of the parking lot. There is a pit toilet a few hundred yards up. The gravel road is an easy hike up and will take you all the way to the dam and beyond, with the North St. Vrain Creek running alongside the whole way. It would be a great hike with younger kids as it isn’t at all technical.

About halfway up there is a trail that splits into the woods off the to left of the gravel road. This is the path we took. Because adventure.

The path winds uphill through the woods and eventually pops out into a beautiful meadow. I took no pictures of this because I was winded and trying to keep going. One of these days I’ll be able to keep up with the kids and my husband and I will take some pictures on the way up one of these hikes. 🙂

It was at about the halfway point that I started taking pictures, at the spot where you come out above the reservoir. The view is gorgeous. You can see in the bottom of the picture where the water is being released below the dam. It is at the point in the hike that the trail splits again and you can head down towards Hall Ranch open space if you want to.


From this point the rest of the hike is mostly downhill.


Eventually you will come out and meet the gravel road you were on originally. This is where the dam outlet is that you could see earlier. We stood for a few minutes and watched the water gush out. It was quite a sight and the mist was nice and cool in contrast to the heat of the summer sun. The picture below is looking back towards the Sleepy Lion trail from a spot near the bottom of the dam.


From here it was a leisurely walk back down the road to the parking lot. The wildflowers were pretty, as was the small waterfall running under the road feeding the creek.


The picture below is looking back up towards the dam. The dam outlet, the Sleepy Lion trail, and another trail (Hummingbird something-or-other that was lots of rock steps up to the dam) is up the left fork. I’m not certain what trails are off to the right. Possibly the other side of the Hummingbird one? That path is saved for another day’s adventuring.


We stopped to dip our toes in and cool off once we got closer to the parking lot. The water was cool and clear and anywhere along the creek would make for a lovely spot to bring a book and read.


After a quick pass by the pit toilet we were back down the hill in the parking lot, headed off for home with tired kids and new stories. I can’t wait to head back out and see what other adventures await us at Button Rock Preserve.

Have you had any adventures on the Sleepy Lion trail or one of the other hikes at Button Rock? Share with us in the comments!

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