OverviewSmithy Mountain is a low, forested mountain that forms much of the southern shoreline of Ralph Prince (Button Rock) Reservoir in the Button Rock Preserve. Of the several mountains in and around the preserve, Smithy Mountain is the smallest and perhaps least impressive, and rightly so, only 700 feet separate the summit block from the shoreline of the reservoir. However, the climb required to reach the summit takes you along quiet shorelines and through open montane forest. Summit views are limited by trees, but along the way there are many vantage points to see Coffintop Mountain, Button Rock and Button Rock Mountain. Views of Button Rock Reservoir are particularly good from near the summit.
1114 feet of elevation gain 3.3 miles one way 2 hours up 1.5 hours down
Button Rock TH: 13T 0471014mE 4453283mN
Sleepy Lion Int: 13T 0470237mE 4452661mN
Button Rock Dam: 13T 0468906mE 4451884mN
Smithy Mountain Summit: 13T 0467709mE 4451607mN
Climbing Smithy Mountain
The most practical and enjoyable route to Smithy Mountain starts at the Button Rock Preserve TH. From the trailhead, a two mile walk along an access road for Button Rock Dam takes you along the North Saint Vrain River. One option to consider is to take the Sleepy Lion Trail which winds through meadows and ends at the Button Rock Dam. Whether you take the trail or not, a mile of hiking or so will lead you to the base and pump house of the Button Rock Dam, where a small trail on the north side of the dam leads you to the top. Button Rock Reservoir holds 248 acres of water and reaches a maximum depth of 204 feet. On the road crossing the dam, look across the water in a southwest direction to view Smithy Mountain. The easily recognizable Coffintop Mountain lies directly south, and Button Rock Mountain sits about 2 miles northeast. Cross the 210 foot tall dam heading south and pickup the marked trail at the southern edge. This trail will take you along the shoreline to the end of a shady cove before it becomes an unmaintained fisherman's trail. This fisherman's trail leads you around a point and near the end of the next cove, at the base of Long Gulch. Unfortunately, the sandy banks of the reservoir become impassible cliff bands before you reach the gulch, and one must climb up 100 feet onto the hillside to bypass the rock. Upon descending into Long Gulch, you can begin climbing the east slope, a quite steep and open side of the mountain. This is where the majority of the climbing is, 734 feet in a quarter mile. The climb up to the summit ridge is loose and tiring, but good views of Button Rock Reservoir sprawl out below you while you catch your breath. The highest point is a stack of large granite boulders at the north end of the summit ridge, and the final jaunt to the summit block requires some class 3 moves. The summit rock has a small twisted pine growing out of it, and has room for only one person. Views to the west do allow you to see some of the tall peaks of the Continental Divide. The top is not spectacular, but it is a quiet and isolated place.
Red TapeButton Rock Preserve does have its own regulations different from the Roosevelt National Forest that borders the area. For complete rules, please refer to these restrictions.A general overview of the area can be found here.
Along with these regulations, there are a few necessary precautions for hiking through the montane forest. As high altitude peak climbers in Colorado, we sometimes forget of the dangers at lower elevations. The dry climate of the low forest is perfect habitat for rattlesnakes, the patchy undergrowth is a resting place for ticks and mountain lions do live in the area. In fact, the Sleepy Lion Trail is named after a sleeping mountain lion a park ranger observed nearby.
Button Rock Mtn
Smithy Mountain Cactus
CampingUnfortunately, camping is not allowed anywhere within the boundaries of the preserve, but is allowed in the bordering Roosevelt National Forest. For RNF, please adhere to these regulations
External LinksButton Rock TH
LOJ profile for Smithy Mountain