Ralph Price Reservoir, Button Rock Preserve Trailhead, Boulder - Denver - Golden - Fort Collins - Lyons, Colorado

Ralph Price Reservoir - 3.8 miles

Button Rock Preserve Trailhead

Ralph Price Reservoir from its northeast shore

Ralph Price Reservoir from its northeast shore

Round-Trip Length: 3.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 6,020' - 6,430' (6,544' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +410' net elevation gain (+638' total roundtrip evelation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Ralph Price Reservoir - 3.8 Miles Round-Trip

Ralph Price Reservoir is located within the Button Rock Preserve, a public sanctuary established to protect the natural watershed that feeds it. The reservoir's maintained trail system, surrounding lands and tributaries provide visitors with good year-round wildlife viewing opportunities, prized trout fishing, and rare insight to how the city of Longmont, Colorado operates its water storage facility.

The Ralph Price Trail is ideal for families, trail running, winter activities, and anglers seeking easy access to prime fishing.

The trail begins on a smooth service road, rising nominally along North St. Vrain Creek while skirting Longmont Reservoir, which at first glance appears little more than a wide, slow moving section of the creek.

The grade increases past the Sleepy Lion Trail junction (.75 miles : 6,135') to the Ralph Price Reservoir access road (1.4 miles); bear right on the access road and resume a steady climb.

The road soon crests (1.6 miles : 6,544'), partially revealing the reservoir through a column of Ponderosa. From its apogee the road-trail drops leisurely to the Ralph Price Reservoir shoreline (1.9 miles : 6,430'). The reservoir's deep blue color and peripheral landscape are striking. Much of it's accessible, but informal trails on the western perimeter quickly give way to steep cliffs that should be respectfully avoided.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N40 13.707 W105 20.582 — Button Rock Preserve Trailhead
  • N40 13.200 W105 21.673 — Ralph Price Reservoir access trail junction - bear right
  • N40 13.180 W105 22.181 — End of Ralph Price Trail at reservoir trail

Worth Noting

  • The Button Rock Preserve and Ralph Price Reservoir are known for their diverse avian populations, which include Golden Eagle, Pigmy Owl, Osprey, Bald Eagle and Herons. Familiar mammals include deer, fox, coyote, mountain lion, bear and seasonal bighorn sheep.

  • The Ralph Price Reservoir is a regularly patrolled area. Dog leash and control laws are strictly enforced. There is NO mountain biking or camping permitted in the Preserve.

  • While it may appear possible to circumnavigate the reservoir, steep cliff walls make the route impassible.

Fishing Information

A special permit is required to fish at Ralph Price Reservoir

In addition to a standard Colorado fishing license, a special fishing permit is required. This can be obtained only from the City of Longmont City Clerk's office. Permits go on sale the 1st week in April; only 600 annual permits are issued each year, and once they are sold out, no more will be available until the following April.

Available on May 18th, 100 Day-use Fishing Permits are also available and must be purchased in advance and have a date filled out in advance. The day use permits are $10.00 each.

In general, 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, along with splake, a lake trout hybrid.

Directions to Trailhead

The Button Rock Preserve Loop begins at the end of County Road 80 just northwest of Lyons, Colorado. From Lyons, take US 36 west 4 miles to County Road 80. Turn Left on County Road 80 and take it 2.8 miles to the dead end at the Button Rock Preserve parking lot. The trail begins just beyond the security gate on the service road.

Contact Information

Longmont Water Utilities

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


"Hiked up to the Ralph Price Reservoir with our dog on a Sunday morning when at the waters edge Ranger Frel drove up to us kicking rocks from the trucks tires and then skidding to a stop. He began an agitated lecture on how he just watched our dog urinate at the waters edge and how he could give us a ticket for this as this is a water supply. Shocked I agreed and apologized, then I thought really, is this man an idiot. They have a boat with a gasoline engine sitting in the water and he is worried about a little urine. I would drink the urine...the gasoline...Watch out for Ranger Frel!"
Andrew  -  CO  -  Date Posted: August 31, 2015
"CO Road 80 was recently rebuilt and the area is now open for public use. (It sustained enormous damage in the flood of October 2013.) The Sleepy Lion trail is a nice loop trail where dogs can be off leash if under voice and sight control. (Dogs must be on leash when on CO Road 80.) It was good to see the engineering redesign of CO Road 80. Rangers patrol the preserve and live on site near the Ralph Price Rez. overflow outlet. Highly recommend. "
Karen dauer  -  Longmont, CO  -  Date Posted: June 30, 2015
"This trail is completely closed. The road is washed out, gated up, and signs are posted that you cannot park anywhere on the road, or hike in the area. "
Kerry Graham  -  United States  -  Date Posted: May 19, 2015
"Is this reservoir located on land taken from the North Saint Vrain Ranch Association comprised mostly of CU professors?? It was next to the Billings ranch. The Button Rock dam holds back the water right at the swimming hole. If it floods where does the water go?? Will it go to the Platte, cross Nebraska and dump into the Missouri River? Have those people been warned downstream?? How about the nuclear power plants near Omaha??"
Thor Odinson  -  Golden  -  Date Posted: May 1, 2014


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