Mt. Helena Ridge Trail In Montana

Here is everything you need to know about the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Montana
  • Length: 5.7 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)
  • Permit Required?: Yes.
  • Website:

The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail, located in Helena, Montana, holds a significant historical background that dates back to the early 1860s. The trail was initially established as a transportation route during the gold rush era, connecting the bustling mining town of Helena with the surrounding mining districts. It served as a vital link for miners, merchants, and settlers, facilitating the movement of people and goods across the rugged terrain of the region.

During this time, the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail played a crucial role in the development and growth of Helena as a prominent mining center. The trail provided access to the rich gold and silver deposits in the surrounding mountains, attracting thousands of prospectors and fortune seekers to the area. As the mining industry flourished, the trail became increasingly important for transporting mining equipment, supplies, and ore to and from the mines.

In the late 1800s, as the mining boom subsided, the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail gradually lost its significance as a transportation route. However, its historical importance remained intact, and the trail became a popular recreational destination for hikers, nature enthusiasts, and history buffs. Today, the trail offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the remnants of the region’s mining past, with various historical markers and interpretive signs along the route, providing insights into the area’s rich history.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Mount Helena Park Trailhead: This is the main access point for the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. It is located at the end of Park Avenue in Helena, Montana. There is a parking lot available for trail users.

2. Park City Trailhead: This trailhead is located near Park City, Montana, and provides access to the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. It is situated off of Highway 10 and offers parking facilities.

3. Tenmile Creek Park Trailhead: Located near East Helena, Montana, this trailhead provides access to the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. It is situated off of Canyon Ferry Road and offers parking facilities.

4. Oro Fino Gulch Trailhead: This trailhead is located near Clancy, Montana, and provides access to the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. It is situated off of Oro Fino Gulch Road and offers parking facilities.

5. Scratch Gravel Hills Trailhead: Located near Helena, Montana, this trailhead provides access to the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. It is situated off of Rimini Road and offers parking facilities.

6. Grizzly Gulch Trailhead: This trailhead is located near Helena, Montana, and provides access to the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. It is situated off of Grizzly Gulch Road and offers parking facilities.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Helena Trolley – A charming trolley service offering guided tours and transportation around Helena.
2. Uber – A popular ridesharing service providing convenient transportation at the tap of a button.
3. Lyft – Another ridesharing service offering reliable transportation options in the area.
4. Yellow Cab – A traditional taxi service available for quick and convenient transportation needs.
5. Helena Regional Airport – The local airport providing domestic flights and rental car services.
6. Mountain Line Bus – A public bus service offering transportation within the Helena area.
7. Helena Shuttle – A shuttle service catering to transportation needs in and around Helena.
8. Helena Bike Share – A bike-sharing program allowing you to rent bicycles for exploring the area.
9. Rental Car Companies – Various rental car companies, such as Hertz, Enterprise, and Budget, offering car rentals for independent transportation.


The amenities available at the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail. These could be portable toilets or permanent restroom buildings.

2. Parking: There should be designated parking areas at the trailhead or nearby for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the trail regulations and management, there may be designated camping sites along the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. These sites could have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and tent pads.

4. Picnic Areas: There might be designated picnic areas along the trail or at the trailhead. These areas could have picnic tables, benches, and trash bins for visitors to enjoy a meal or rest.

5. Water Sources: There may be water sources available along the trail, such as water fountains or natural water bodies. However, it is advisable to carry your own water as well.

6. Trail Markers and Signage: The trail should have proper markers and signage to guide hikers and ensure they stay on the designated path.

7. Information Boards: There might be information boards at the trailhead or along the trail, providing details about the trail, its history, flora, fauna, and safety guidelines.

8. Waste Disposal: There should be trash bins or waste disposal facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail to encourage visitors to keep the area clean.

It is important to note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is recommended to check with local authorities or trail management for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Helena Great Northern Hotel – Historic hotel offering comfortable lodging in downtown Helena.
2. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Helena – Modern hotel with complimentary breakfast and amenities.
3. Best Western Premier Helena Great Northern Hotel – Upscale hotel featuring a restaurant and bar.
4. Residence Inn by Marriott Helena – Extended-stay hotel with spacious suites and complimentary breakfast.
5. Hampton Inn Helena – Contemporary hotel with a fitness center and indoor pool.
6. Super 8 by Wyndham Helena – Budget-friendly motel with basic amenities and free breakfast.
7. Subway – Fast-food chain serving sandwiches and salads.
8. Taco Bell – Popular fast-food restaurant offering Mexican-inspired dishes.
9. McDonald’s – Well-known fast-food chain serving burgers, fries, and more.
10. Papa John’s Pizza – Pizza delivery and takeout restaurant.
11. St. Peter’s Hospital – Full-service hospital providing emergency medical care.
12. Helena Police Department – Local law enforcement agency.
13. Helena Fire Department – Fire and rescue services for the Helena area.
14. Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office – County law enforcement agency.
15. St. Peter’s Urgent Care – Walk-in clinic for non-life-threatening medical needs.

Mt. Helena Ridge Trail Difficulty Notes

The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is known for its challenging difficulty level, making it a favorite among experienced hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. The trail spans approximately 12 miles and features steep ascents, rocky terrain, and narrow paths that require careful navigation. Hikers should be prepared for a strenuous workout and be in good physical condition to tackle this trail. The breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the city of Helena make the effort worthwhile, but it is important to come prepared with proper gear, plenty of water, and a map or GPS device to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike.

Features And Attractions

The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail offers stunning scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable points of interest along the trail:

1. Mount Helena Summit: The trail starts at the base of Mount Helena and leads to its summit, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

2. 1906 Fire Tower: Along the trail, you’ll come across the historic 1906 Fire Tower, which was used to spot wildfires in the past. It provides a unique glimpse into the area’s firefighting history.

3. Prickly Pear Canyon: As you hike along the ridge, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of Prickly Pear Canyon, with its rugged cliffs and lush vegetation.

4. Devil’s Kitchen: This geological formation is a popular stop along the trail. It features unique rock formations and offers a great vantage point to admire the surrounding landscapes.

5. Mount Ascension: The trail connects with Mount Ascension, another prominent peak in the area. From here, you can enjoy additional scenic views and explore the diverse flora and fauna.

6. Helena Valley: As you continue along the ridge, you’ll be able to see the picturesque Helena Valley, with its rolling hills and charming cityscape.

7. Historic Mining Sites: The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail passes by several historic mining sites, providing a glimpse into the area’s mining heritage. You may come across old mine shafts, equipment, or remnants of mining operations.

8. Wildlife Spotting: The trail is known for its abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for deer, elk, birds, and other animals that call this area home.

9. Wildflower Meadows: During the spring and summer months, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers, creating a colorful and picturesque landscape.

10. Sunset Over the City: As the trail descends towards the end, you’ll be treated to stunning sunset views over the city of Helena, creating a memorable end to your hike.

These are just a few highlights along the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail. The trail offers a diverse range of natural and historical attractions, making it a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Bicycles are not allowed on the trail.
– Horses are not allowed on the trail.
– Camping or overnight stays are not permitted.
– Fires and smoking are strictly prohibited.
– Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
– Hunting or trapping is not allowed.
– Collection or removal of plants, animals, rocks, or artifacts is prohibited.
– Littering is strictly prohibited; please carry out all trash.
– Stay on designated trails and do not create new paths.
– Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed them.
– Be aware of seasonal restrictions, such as closures during fire season or adverse weather conditions.

Seasonal Information

The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is a popular hiking destination located in Helena, Montana. This scenic trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and the city below. While the trail is accessible year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting.

One of the best times to hike the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is during the summer months, from June to August. During this time, the weather is generally pleasant, with warm temperatures and clear skies. The trail is also at its most vibrant, with wildflowers in full bloom and lush greenery all around. Hikers can enjoy the stunning vistas and take advantage of the longer daylight hours to explore the trail at their own pace.

Another great time to visit the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is during the fall season, from September to October. As the leaves change colors, the trail transforms into a picturesque landscape, offering a stunning display of autumn foliage. The cooler temperatures make hiking more comfortable, and the trail is less crowded compared to the summer months. Fall also brings the opportunity to spot wildlife, such as deer and elk, as they prepare for the winter months.

It’s important to note that the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail may have seasonal closures or restrictions depending on weather conditions. During the winter months, from November to March, the trail can be covered in snow and ice, making it unsafe for hiking. It is recommended to check with local authorities or the Helena National Forest Service for trail conditions and closures before planning a visit during this time. Additionally, springtime, from April to May, may bring muddy conditions due to melting snow, so hikers should be prepared for potentially challenging terrain.

Overall, the best times to visit the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail are during the summer and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant, the scenery is stunning, and the trail is accessible. Whether you prefer vibrant wildflowers or colorful foliage, this trail offers a memorable hiking experience for nature enthusiasts throughout the year.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its steep and rugged terrain.
2. ADA Accommodations: The trail does not have specific ADA accommodations, but the nearby Mt. Helena City Park offers accessible facilities and paved paths for individuals with disabilities.
3. Accessible Parking: There are designated accessible parking spaces available at the trailhead for visitors with disabilities.
4. Restrooms: Accessible restrooms can be found at the nearby Mt. Helena City Park, providing facilities for individuals with disabilities.
5. Informational Signage: The trail lacks specific ADA signage, but the nearby park may have informational signs with accessibility features and guidelines.
6. Alternative Accessible Trails: While the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail may not be accessible, there are other nearby trails, such as the 1906 Trail, that offer wheelchair accessibility and ADA accommodations.
7. Assistance Animals: Visitors with disabilities are allowed to bring their assistance animals on the trail to aid them during their visit.
8. Trail Difficulty: The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is rated as a difficult trail due to its steep inclines, uneven terrain, and lack of accessibility features.
9. Trail Length: The trail spans approximately 5.5 miles, providing a challenging hiking experience for those who are able-bodied.
10. Scenic Views: Despite its inaccessibility, the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Helena Valley and the distant mountains.

Safety Information

1. Trail Difficulty: The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is a moderately difficult trail with steep sections and uneven terrain, requiring proper hiking skills and footwear.
2. Weather Awareness: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, as the trail is exposed and can be subject to high winds, sudden storms, and temperature fluctuations.
3. Trail Length: The trail is approximately 7.6 miles long, so plan accordingly and ensure you have enough water, snacks, and daylight to complete the hike.
4. Trail Markings: Look for trail markers and signs along the way to stay on the designated path and avoid getting lost.
5. Wildlife Encounter: Be aware of potential encounters with wildlife, including bears, mountain lions, and snakes, and know how to react in such situations.
6. Hiking in Groups: It is recommended to hike in groups of two or more for safety and to have someone to assist in case of an emergency.
7. Cell Phone Reception: Keep in mind that cell phone reception may be limited or unavailable along certain sections of the trail, so inform someone about your plans and estimated return time.
8. First Aid Kit: Carry a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers in case of minor injuries.
9. Water and Hydration: Bring an adequate supply of water, as there are limited water sources along the trail, and stay hydrated throughout the hike.
10. Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, as the trail offers limited shade.
11. Leave No Trace: Practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash, staying on the trail, and respecting the natural environment.
12. Emergency Preparedness: Familiarize yourself with the trail map, carry a compass or GPS device, and know the location of the nearest emergency services in case of an unforeseen situation.
13. Trail Conditions: Check for recent trail condition updates before embarking on the hike, as weather events or maintenance work may affect accessibility or safety.
14. Physical Fitness: Ensure you are in good physical condition before attempting the trail, as it involves elevation gain and can be physically demanding.
15. Time Management: Start the hike early in the day to allow ample time for completion and to avoid being caught in darkness or adverse weather conditions.

Conservation Notes

The conservation status of the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is of significant importance due to its ecological value and the need to protect its natural resources. As a designated National Recreation Trail, the trail is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is subject to specific conservation guidelines and regulations. These measures aim to ensure the preservation of the trail’s unique flora, fauna, and overall ecosystem.

The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is located within the Helena National Forest in Montana, an area known for its diverse wildlife and pristine landscapes. The trail traverses through various habitats, including dense forests, alpine meadows, and rocky ridges, providing a home to a wide range of plant and animal species. Some of the notable species found along the trail include elk, mule deer, black bears, and numerous bird species.

To protect the conservation values of the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail, certain restrictions are in place. These include limitations on camping and fires, as well as regulations regarding waste disposal and the use of motorized vehicles. These measures are crucial in minimizing human impact on the trail and its surrounding environment, ensuring the preservation of its natural beauty and ecological integrity for future generations to enjoy.

Efforts are also made to educate visitors about the importance of conservation and responsible outdoor recreation. Informational signs and brochures are available along the trail, highlighting the significance of preserving the area’s biodiversity and promoting sustainable practices. By adhering to these conservation guidelines, visitors can help maintain the ecological balance of the Mt. Helena Ridge Trail and contribute to its long-term sustainability.

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