I started up the Nighthawk Trail, the pedestrian and equestrian only option. It's a nice one.
I took a right on Sleepy Lion for the fun and fast technical downhill. Then I took Longmont Dam Road up to the ranger station, and the shoreline trail west. The trail skirts ranked Boulder County peak 7071, and also provides access to Cook Mountain, another ranked Boco peak.
At the far end of the shoreline trail, you meet up with Longmont Dam Road once again. Why not just take it through? Well, because it's private, and signed on the reservoir side, and as I would soon discover, fenced and gated on the other side.
I took a right on Longmont Dam Road, then a left at the first old jeep road to head for Coulson Gulch.
I took a right here, joining jeep road 118-1 for a very short time, before taking a steep trail on the left up to a trashed campsite. I took the once thin exit trail out of this site, which I recently discovered had been given an interesting name by someone...
I got off the trail at one of the pull outs along the jeep road, and headed down a steep section before taking a right into another one of the pull outs along the road. Here, you join a now blocked off shoot of the road (118-3 on your Forest Service map), and then hit some sweet single track on the right. It winds up and up, and eventually joins the remnants of the road, which have now been largely reclaimed by nature. It's back to single track in most places.
I took a right on to the trail that meets the loop around Button Rock Mountain. I'd originally planned to run the entire loop, but the day was getting on, and I decided to just hit the summit and turn around. Plus, I still had to go all the way back to Hall Ranch!
A quick snack and I was on my way. I'd abandoned my plans to head up higher due to the weather, and it had been nice so far. But as they say, if you don't like the weather in Colorado, just wait ten minutes. It went from sunny and warm to cold and snowy in a heart beat.
I continued along the jeep road (118-1 to 118-2A), losing elevation before reentering the Button Rock property. This trail is on the USGS map, but not on the Forest Service map. It is on the excellent MapBuilder Topo layer on Caltopo, a good place to look to find the trails that aren't on any other maps. It parallels Rattlesnake Gulch while staying up from the drainage a bit.
Things look promising at first, with distinct single track visible beyond the entrance.
Soon I was at the dam, and took the short trail down to join the old road that runs back to Hall Ranch. I decided to take the road for a longer stint, rather than take a short downhill on Sleepy Lion to rejoin the shorter western section of Button Rock trail.
I got back to my much earlier departure place from Nighthawk, and took the short connector to Nelson. I ran the more fun (in my opinion) north side of the trail, and then hit Bitterbrush.
It's a day, but this provided a fun and interesting approach to this peak. I ended up covering 35.83 miles with 5399 feet of elevation gain in 8 hours, 18 minutes, and two seconds, a 13:54 minute per mile pace. It was certainly a good training run. I felt pretty good for almost all of it, and this was my longest and fastest paced effort to date.
Link to run map on Caltopo.