Skyline. 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 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. From 2006 to 2015, Prickly Pear Land Trust worked 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 was very successful in this ambitious project known as the “Backdrop Initiative.” In December of 2015, the city of Helena took ownership of the last four parcels totaling 153 acres from Prickly Pear Land Trust, culminating the project.
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 completed PPLT’s efforts to preserve this trail corridor for hikers, mountain bikers, runners, snowshoers, birdwatchers, wildlife viewers, photographers, and botanists.
Click here to view a Story Map presentation of the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest Program, which helped fund part of the project.