Where: CO Hwy 80, Lyons, Colorado 80540
This favorite hike lies well outside the city limits of Longmont, off of Highway 36 just west of Lyons. But it's actually managed by the City of Longmont, thanks to the Longmont and Ralph Price Reservoirs, which provide water for the city.
Button Rock is a great day hike for families; it's not too strenuous (the incline is very gradual on the way to the reservoir) and not too long (about five miles round trip), but still offers plenty of scenic viewpoints: crashing waterfalls, craggy rock formations and wide-open spaces. You can walk along the wide road that runs alongside the river, which is flat and smooth enough for strollers. Or you can climb the Sleepy Lion Trail, which is a bit longer and steeper, and leads you to a lovely grassy meadow. We've never seen any slumbering lions around here, but apparently bighorn sheep sometimes show up. Other animals you might catch a glimpse of include marmots, eagles and mule deer.
Whichever route you take, you'll end up at Button Rock Dam, where a powerful spray of white water shoots into the river below. It's an exciting sight and sound to say the least -- and on hot days, the mist from the water will cool you down considerably. From there, you can climb the steep trail to the reservoir high above, a placid and relaxing spot for a picnic. The views from up here are spectacular.
Getting There: From Lyons, head west on Highway 36 for 4 miles. Turn left at Boulder County Road 80 and continue for 3 miles. Take note! Boulder County Road 80 is not prominently marked and is easy to miss.