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