Helena’s South Hills Trails are among the most treasured attributes of life in Helena. The proximity of this extensive trail network to downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods is truly unique. With more than 75 miles of trails in the foothills around town, there is plenty of room for bikers, hikers, runners, dog-walkers and even horseback riders to find their own favorite route. These trails provide locals and visitors alike with an opportunity to head out for an hour or an entire day on trails.
The South Hills Trails are located on a mix of property ownership and land management. In general, the trails closest to town are located on City of Helena Open Lands property, which includes Mt. Helena City Park and Mt. Ascension City Park. The city of Helena manages about 1,950 acres of Open Lands, primarily for wildlife habitat and recreation. Prickly Pear Land Trust has partnered with the city for the past 13 years to maintain existing trails and build new trails on city property. In addition, PPLT in partnership with the city of Helena and Helena Tourism Alliance has begun the process of collecting valuable usage data throughout the trail system by counting the number of hikers and bikers that utilize the trails.
The trails further up in the hills are located on U.S. Forest Service lands, which include the Mt. Helena Ridge, Wakina Sky and Rodney Ridge areas. These areas form a component of the extensive Forest Service trails network that extends unbroken from the edge of Helena to the Continental Divide. Trails on Forest Service property in the South Hills are open for use by hikers, bikers, and horseback riders, but are closed to motorized travel. Prickly Pear Land Trust has partnered with the Forest Service to coordinate trail management activities in the South Hills.
To read the South Hills Trails Plan, click here.
Interesting facts about the South Hills Trails System:
As the trail system has expanded to encompass areas further afield it has become increasingly obvious that a new map and/or mapping strategy is necessary in order to accurately represent all of the data while keeping it in an accessible, user-friendly format. PPLT is seeking proposals to design a new map or suite of maps as well as an accompanying digital interface that is compatible with both desktop and mobile devices and that meets the needs of this growing trail system.
Download the latest Prickly Pear Land Trust Trail Map.
Join Prickly Pear Land Trust staff and volunteers in giving back to the trails that are such a big part of living in Helena. Meet at the designated area at 5:30 p.m. where we will have a short discussion of the project for the day and divide into smaller work groups. These events are fun for the entire family and we always have a variety of tasks to match everyone’s ability and interest. Prickly Pear Land Trust will provide the tools and instruction on trail work. We also have gloves, if you need them. You need to bring:
We typically work rain or shine. However, we will not work if there are storms in the area that contain high winds or lightning. In the event of unfavorable weather, we will make the determination to reschedule the event by 4 p.m. on the afternoon of the workday and post the cancellation notice on our website and Facebook page.
2018 Trail Workday Schedule
Check back in the spring for our 2018 schedule.
Have questions? Need directions? Please call Prickly Pear Land Trust at (406) 442-0490.
Whenever you’re on the trails, yield to others appropriately: