Hall Ranch and Button Rock Preserve

In a busy world with constant distractions, finding peace and solitude is of utmost importance in order to live a healthy lifestyle. And I certainly did find a lot of peace and solitude this past Sunday while out exploring Hall Ranch Open Space outside of Lyons, Colorado. It is also part of the Boulder County trail system which is also really easy to find too as the main trailhead is just over a mile from town off of Colorado Highway 7. If you’re worried about parking, they have well over 60 parking spots. Here are some more quick details about this hike:

Where: Hall Ranch North Foothills Open Space and Button Rock Preserve

When: January 27th, 2019

Trails Hiked: Nighthawk Trail, Button Rock Trail and Sleepy Lion Trail

Total Distance: 15.8 Miles

Towards the beginning of the Nighthawk Trail.
A little further up the Nighthawk Trail.

To start, I took the Nighthawk Trail which is 4.7 miles one way. The beginning of this hike was through some relatively chill terrain and featured some unique geology. Over the course of this trail, the elevation increases 1,282 feet and features some switchbacks as well as some pretty forested areas further on. The amount of snow and ice on the trail was minimal early on thanks to the trail being in direct sunlight. However, that soon changed once I reached certain parts of the trail that went directly through the woods.

The snow covered trail with several deer off to the right out of view.
It was a truly peaceful Sunday morning.
A nice herd of deer that spent the whole day on this hillside.

After walking through a mixture of woods and open fields for awhile longer, I reached a clearing at the top of a hill that gave way to some remarkable views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker off to the west. Right at this point, the wind started to dramatically pick up and was beginning to blow snow all over the place. Shortly after I took some photos of the mountains, they quickly disappeared behind clouds and snow as a snow storm was beginning to move in the area. The very next day, this same snow storm would cause a major headache for people living in the Denver metro area too.

Looking towards Longs Peak and Mount Meeker from the Nighthawk Trail.
Another similar view.

Not bothered by this at all, I continued onto the Button Rock Trail which is located within the perimeter of the Button Rock Preserve. The Sleepy Lion trail can also be found here as well. Furthermore, the trail itself continues to weave in and out of trees and open fields until you reach a rocky area which provides you with views of the Ralph Price Reservoir.

Nothing but an endless sight of trees and snow!
The sign while entering the Button Rock Preserve.
View of the Ralph Price Reservoir. Longs Peak and Mount Meeker are obscured due to the snowstorm.

Considering that it was still only late morning, I decided that I wanted to continue hiking. After reaching this awesome overlook area, the wind picked up even more. It was so strong that I could not even put my coat hood up. Therefore, I decided that I wanted to hike down to the edge of the reservoir and have a snack while taking in the surrounding views. To reach the dam, I was going to have to take the Sleepy Lion Trail which was quite scenic and featured numerous switchbacks that were somewhat icy. After a short time, I finally reached the dam and the winds were so strong that I had to carefully watch how I was walking in order to not get swept off my feet.

The helpful signs leading the way.
I took this from where the dam and the woods meet in order to avoid the gusty winds!

After taking some more pictures, it was soon time to head back the way that I came while fighting against both the wind as well as the mud on the trails thanks to the recently melting snow. In addition to that, some parts of the trail that I had previously hiked through had so much snow blown over them that there was no sign that I had even been there earlier in the morning. The drifts were quite significant in some spots too!

Views of Lyons and Longmont from the Nighthawk Trail.
Amazing view on the return trip!

Overall, this hike was a lot of fun. It seemed as if the views were continually getting better throughout the day too. The only thing that was somewhat bad was the amount of mud on the trail due to the melting snow. However, this was definitely expected given that it is currently winter time. Last but not least, I would recommend visiting this open space as it seemed out of the way and quite tranquil. I think the next time I head back to this area I will explore more of the Button Rock Preserve.

Author: David Higham

Spending time in nature calms my soul.

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