New Meetup: Back to Button Rock

From: Susan & L.
Sent on: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 5:26 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for The Longmont Hiking Meetup Group!

What: Back to Button Rock

When: Sunday, May 16,[masked]:00 PM

Button Rock Preserve
Hwy 80
Lyons, CO 80540

Let's meet at Sports Authority parking lot in Longmont at 12pm. We will carpool from there.

If you would like to meet us at the trailhead:
From Lyons, take US 36 west 4 miles to County Road 80. Turn left on CR 80 and follow for about 2.5 (this will be a dirt road). The road dead-ends at the Button Rock Preserve parking lot and the trail begins just beyond the security gate.

The Button Rock Dam and Sleepy Lion trails form a 4.7 mile route through the Button Rock Preserve.

The trail begins on a smooth service road, gaining nominal elevation while skirting Longmont Reservoir, which at first glance appears little more than a wide, slow moving section of the creek. The grade increases slightly upon reaching the Sleepy Lion Trail junction. The Sleepy Lion Trail turns south and rises sharply, weaving quickly through douglas fir, ponderosa, cacti patches and rocky outcrops.

The forest suddenly thins and the trail levels, spilling unexpectedly into a rolling, verdant meadow. This segment is rife with signs of the Preserve?s abundant wildlife: deer, fox, coyote, rabbit, mountain lion, bear and prairie rattlesnake inhabit this area. Seasonal and occasionally seen are bighorn sheep.

Once across the meadow the trail reasserts itself, climbing steeply through non-descript forest to the Button Rock Trail junction. Some easy maneuvering amid large boulders yields terrific views across Ralph Price Reservoir and the distant summits of Mt Meeker (13,911?) and Longs Peak (14,259?).

The Sleepy Lion Trail continues unevenly for a short spell before bending north and dropping down to the Ralph Price Reservoir Dam base and service road (2.7 miles : 6,253?). Bear right on the service road, which crosses over the voluminous dam outlet and realigns with North St Vrain Creek for an easy 2 mile return to the parking lot. A spur trail just beyond the service road junction scales the dam wall (above the outlet, up and to the left). A short but steep climb places you atop the dam with panoramas of the reservoir and surrounding mountains, and a good perspective on the engineering complexities of dam construction.

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