Mt. Ascension Natural Park Expansion Project:
The Backdrop Initiative

Mount AscensionBackdrop Map -- September 2014Skyline. Frame. Horizon. Ridge. Whatever you call it, Helena’s southern skyline provides one of the most beautiful backdrops of any city in the United States. It is also home to our beloved 72-mile trail system.
Mount Ascension is a big player in our backdrop; its trails provide unparalleled views of the Helena Valley, the Continental Divide, and surrounding mountain ranges. Prickly Pear Land Trust has been working since 2006 to protect access to Mount Ascension’s Entertainment Trail while reassembling a fractured landscape to be placed into public ownership. With the generous assistance of numerous partners, PPLT has been very successful in this ambitious project known as the “Backdrop Initiative.”

PPLT and the city worked with multiple partners to acquire 13 parcels in and around the Alpine Meadows Subdivision, situated on the south ridge of Mount Ascension. These lots are 20 to 58 acres in size; 10 have been conveyed to the city and are now part of the park. When this project is complete, Mount Ascension Natural Park will have increased in size by 88 percent.

When combined with other open lands and the adjoining Helena National Forest lands, Mount Ascension is critical to our acclaimed South Hills trail system. Purchase of these parcels will complete PPLT’s efforts to preserve this trail corridor for hikers, mountain bikers, runners, snowshoers, birdwatchers, wildlife viewers, photographers, and botanists.