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: 

Wanted: Trail Crew Member

Position Title: Trail Crew Member

Brief Description: Full-time seasonal individual to perform trail maintenance

Reports To: Trails Coordinator

Status: Seasonal – Full Time (40 hours per week)

Compensation: $13.00 – $14.50/hour DOE



As a PPLT Trail Crew Member your “office” will be the nearly 70 miles of trails in the South Hills of Helena! Work is primarily in the field with limited office tasks. Fieldwork includes, but is not limited to, completing signage and trail maintenance inventories, building new trail, clearing trails, maintaining trails including brushing, retreading, building and cleaning drainage structures, training/supervising volunteers during work events, and being an ambassador for PPLT on the trails. Fieldwork will be completed almost exclusively using hand tools (hand saw, Pulaski, McLeod, shovel, etc.). Fieldwork will often be self-guided, although sometimes you may work with a supervisor, partner staff or with a team of volunteers. This position allows for a flexible work schedule to achieve 40 hours per week, including required evening and weekend work on occasion.

This position requires extensive hiking over varied terrain, working in a variety of weather conditions, demanding physical labor as well as the soft-skills necessary to teach and lead volunteer crews and interact positively with trail users. Office work includes working closely with the Trails Coordinator and Project Manager to ensure all trail issues are being mitigated and annual maintenance work plan is being completed.

Additional duties include maintaining hand tools, maintaining an organized tool cache, and filling out required trail and signage inventory paperwork.

Required Skills & Background

Additional Preferred Skills & Background


For this position a reliable personal vehicle is required to access job sites. Job assignments often require driving to trailheads on gravel roads. PPLT reimburses employees for the use of their personal vehicles for mileage driven from the office to the work site. Other vehicle repairs are the responsibility of the employee.

Gear and Tools

Use of personal gear is required; backpack, rain gear, hiking/work boots, etc. Tools are provided by PPLT to be maintained in good working order by the employee.

Position Length

Maximum length of this position will not exceed 5 months. Exact start and end dates will be negotiated by PPLT and the chosen candidate. If necessary, PPLT will shorten the season to accommodate student schedules.

BASIC CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT form the fundamental performance requirements for continued employment. All employees are ambassadors of the organization and are expected to support and fulfill the mission of the organization. All employees, regardless of job title, must demonstrate the following minimum requirements for continued employment. In addition, it is the employee’s responsibility to read, understand and comply with all policies and procedures.

1) Client/Partner Relationships: Be able to identify key client and partner groups and assess service needs. Strive toward meeting their needs in a caring, efficient and cost effective manner.

2) Quality: Comply with established requirements for job performance methods, procedures and standards.

3) Professional Conduct: Comply with established employment policies and practices. Maintain confidentiality of client, member/contributor and employee information. Accept direction and provide direction in a cooperative and positive manner.

4) Personal Conduct: Engage in personal conduct that is honest, respectful, courteous, and dignified as well as legal, ethical, dependable and reliable. Demonstrate appropriate dress and personal hygiene.

5) Competency: Develop and maintain skills, knowledge and abilities required for adequate performance of assigned job duties. Participate in continuing professional education.

To Apply

Email a PDF copy of your resume and three references to Evan Kulesa, Trails Coordinator, at [email protected]. Please review the PPLT website for a better understanding of the organization. Qualified applicants will be contacted to schedule an interview with final candidate selections. Review and interview of applicants will begin March 26 and will continue until the position is filled.


Trail Map

Download the latest Prickly Pear Land Trust Trail Map.



Trail work

Join Prickly Pear Land Trust staff and volunteers in giving back to the trails that are such a big part of living in Helena. 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 1.5 hours before the workday and post the cancellation notice on our website and Facebook page.

Several trail maintenance opportunities are available throughout the season. Mark your calendar now and plan to participate in one of the following service events.

Community Work Events

The dates are set; check back here and on our Facebook page for updates on locations and projects. Meet at 5:30 p.m. at the designated area, where we will have a short discussion of the project for the day and set off to work. Meeting locations and project description will be updated at least two weeks before the work event.

*On Monday, August 20, a volunteer appreciation event is planned. Check back here for more details.

National Trails Day

Join PPLT in partnership with Montana Conservation Corps as well as thousands of volunteers across the country for this national day of trail work! This is always one of our favorite events of the year and includes trail work, good food and prizes!

June 2, from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by a picnic barbeque. Check back here for meeting location(s) and projects.

Business, School
and Community Organization Events

Do you have a designated service day at your work? Are you a teacher looking for opportunities for your students to give back to the community? Do you lead a community organization that would like to work on the trails?

PPLT is happy to host service days for groups out on the trails! Please call 442-0490 or email [email protected] for more information and to schedule an event.

Trail Volunteer Training Series

Have you always wanted to learn the intricacies of trail maintenance techniques? Do you have no other desire on Saturday mornings than to grab your shovel and pick mattock and improve your local trail system? Then these events are for you!

PPLT will be hosting a trail volunteer training series to train volunteers both new and old. Completion of training courses will not only get you major kudos, but will allow you the ability to do some trail maintenance activities on your own. You do not need to be able to attend both courses, although you are encouraged to do so.

Space in these workshops is limited. Please register by calling 442-0490 or emailing [email protected].

Saturday, April 21 – Mt. Helena Trailhead

Saturday, April 28 – S. Beattie Trailhead

*Sessions begin at 9 a.m. at the designated meeting spot and will end by no later than 2 p.m.


Do you find yourself on the trail often and see trail items that need attention? Adopt-A-Trail is the right spot for you! Adopt-A-Trail volunteers walk their trail a minimum of twice a year and report any findings to the PPLT Trails Coordinator. Help us by picking up garbage, spotting weeds, noticing missing or broken signs and any other issues that need to be attended to. This is a minimal commitment and is perfect for those who want to be involved on their own schedule!

To register for this program please contact [email protected] or call us at (406) 442-0490.

Trail Rules & Etiquette

City of Helena Parks
and Open Space Lands

U.S. Forest Service Lands

Whenever you’re on the trails, yield to others appropriately:

Trail Talk with Evan

Read Evan’s latest Trail Talk here!