Don't Fence Me In Trail Run

Each May, Montana’s trail running season kicks off with Helena’s Don’t Fence Me In Trail Run. What started off as a small gathering aimed at generating support and excitement for local open space is now a major community event celebrating our local wild lands and our connection to them. And what better way to celebrate the outdoors than wandering the switchbacks and rough terrain with your fellow outdoor enthusiasts! Everyone is encouraged to run with us on the nationally renowned South Hills trail system, whether pushing through the 30K dash over two peaks, celebrating the 20th annual trail run with the new 20K, scrambling through hills and trees with the 5K or 12K races, or taking time to sniff the wild roses in the non-competitive 5K Dog Walk. The 20th Annual Don’t Fence Me In Trail Run is set for Saturday, May 9, 2020.

30K – $80    |   20K – $65    12K – $50    |   5K – $30    |    5K Dog Walk – $35

As always, kids 17 and under register for free!

5K Course

Trail Map

Elevation Gain: nearly 430 ft

Mileage: 2.6 mile course

12K Course

Trail Map

Elevation Gain: nearly 1,400 ft

Mileage: 7.2 mile course

20K Course

Trail Map

Elevation Gain: 2,461 ft

Mileage: 12.37 mile course

30K Course

Trail Map

Elevation Gain: 3,935 ft

Mileage: 18.43 mile course

Pre-Party and Packet Pick-Up

Avoid the Saturday morning registration lines by attending Friday’s pre-party and packet pick-up at Blackfoot River Brewing from 3 PM to 7 PM on May 8. Outside, just North of the taproom, there’ll be live music and food trucks to accompany the release of the legendary E-trail Pale Ale. Mingle with fellow racers and pick up your race t-shirt, race bib, and packet materials. Cheers to the start of trail season!

If you are unable to pick up your packet on Friday, there will be race day pick-up and late registration at the start/finish area from 6:15 AM to 10:30 AM.

  • Early-birds registering before April 1 will receive official race t-shirts in their size. Those registering after April 1 will likely get their size, but there are no guarantees. T-shirts are unisex (and the same sport-tek style as the last two years), so we recommend women size-down accordingly.
  • Late registration begins Wednesday, May 6 and all races will have a $10 price increase. Thank you for helping PPLT plan ahead by registering early!

Race Day Timeline

Trail run activities begin and end at Pioneer Park (aka Anchor Park) located at the south end of the Downtown Helena Walking Mall, next to the Lewis & Clark Library. The official starting line of each race is at the intersection of S. Warren Street and Miller Street, and the finish line is in Pioneer Park near Reeders Alley. See Courses for descriptions and maps of the events.

  • 6:15 a.m. – 30K and 20K packet pick-up begins
  • 7:00 a.m. – 30K run begins
  • 7:30 a.m. – 20K run begins
  • 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. – Packet pick-up and day-of registration for 12K, 5K, and 5K Dog Walk
  • 10 a.m. – 12K Run and Walk begins
  • 10:30 a.m. – 5K Run and Walk begins
  • 10:45 a.m. – 5K Dog Walk begins
  • An awards ceremony will take place around noon – all friends and family are welcome!

Awards Ceremony

Overall male and female winners in each distance will win a prize sponsored by Patagonia. First-place male and female finishers in each age group in each event will be awarded a prize from PPLT. The 5K Dog Walk is noncompetitive. See the results page for past years’ race times.

Age Groups

  • 70 and over
  • 60-69
  • 50-59
  • 40-49
  • 30-39
  • 20-29
  • 15-19
  • and 14 and under.

USATF rules apply.

Registration Opens January 1, 2020

Follow us on Facebook at Prickly Pear Land Trust and Instagram @PricklyPearLandTrust  #DontFenceMeInTrailRun

Thanks to Jason O’Neil for the photographs from 2019!

Support our Trails - Support a TrailRaiser

Keep us trekking along—become a PPLT TrailRaiser! In order for Prickly Pear Land Trust to reach its funding targets for 2020 and continue its mission of connecting land and people through trails and open space, we need you to get us across the finish line. By becoming a TrailRaiser and getting friends and family to donate in your name, you will make a genuine difference in this community and involve more of the community at the same time.

We have had such wonderful TrailRaisers in the past! Just last year, 9-year old Aven Baker raised over $2,000 for PPLT and TrailRaising Team Malcolm Gilbert and Jake Brodsky together raised over $2,500. And every single person, child, or pup has their own reasons to support PPLT—whether they use the trails to get or stay in shape, walk the park for sunshine and fresh air, enjoy learning about the efforts to protect bird and elk habitat, or just love the opportunity to do some real work on our service days. What’s your reason?

Tell your friends and family why local community and conservation are important for you and how they can support it too. Organize a group and TrailRaise together, or sprint ahead on your own. Either way, we have some perks for those who are willing to put in a little extra mileage on PPLT’s behalf. For those who raise:

Rules and Guidelines

  • You must understand your course route and read course description.
  • Dogs are only allowed in the 5K Dog Walk and must have a leash and poo bags. They are also welcome in the park.
  • Baby strollers are not allowed in any event due to the single track trails making it challenging for faster racers to pass. Baby backpacks are recommended!
  • A 50% refund can be processed until March 15.
  • No refunds after March 15. All proceeds go directly to PPLT’s trail maintenance and conservation efforts.

2019 Sponsors

The 2020 Sponsors will be shown here on March 1, 2020.

2019 Mount Helena Presenting Sponsor

2019 Mount Ascension Sponsors

2019 Rodney Ridge Sponsors

2019 Springhill Meadow Sponsors

Big Sky Cycling & Fitness

The Base Camp

Bison Engineering, Inc

Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center

First Security Bank

Gold Leaf Physical Therapy

Heuiser Physical Therapy

Made to Move Chiropractic

Montana Eye Care

Montana State Fund


Opportunity Bank of Montana

Peak Physical Therapy

Performance Injury Care and Sports Medicine

Valley Bank


Don’t Fence Me In Trail Run is the first race in the Treasure State Trail Series.

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