Mount Helena is one of the defining features that surround the Montana capital city. The mountain is encompassed in Mount Helena City Park, a designated park within the City of Helena’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Mount Helena City Park is considered to be one of the most popular recreation areas in the city of Helena. The Park itself is a 620-acre area that includes the monumental Mount Helena within its expanse.
The Park has numerous trails that allow visitors to wander around Mount Helena and make the trek to its summit.
Due to the close proximity of this park to downtown Helena, the area is quite busy. Visitors enjoy recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing within the park.
Most of the trails in the park are multi-purpose, allowing hikers and mountain bikers. Horses are not allowed on the trails within the City Park.
Some of the trails that start in Mount Helena City Park extend into the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, where additional trail uses are allowed.
Mount Helena Statistics
- Elevation (ft/m) – 5,468 feet (1,667 meters)
- Nearest Town – Helena, Montana
- Season (when can it be accessed) – All Year
Mount Helena Recreation Activities
The area around Mount Helena is considered a city park, so recreation activities are limited to those allowed by the city of Helena.
While there are limited recreational activities within the City Park, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy Mount Helena.
Hiking is the most popular recreational activity on and around Mount Helena. There are numerous designated trails within Mount Helena City Park.
Most of the trails provide visitors with access to the summit of Mount Helena. The trails also provide access to some of the popular rock climbing routes on Mount Helena.
A few of the trails that start in Mount Helena City Park will provide access to forest service land, where you can explore additional trails that lead to other parts of the forest.
If you hike out of the city park boundaries, you’ll note that the trail use becomes more diverse, as the forest service does allow horses on most trails in the area.
Trails around Mount Helena are considered to be multi-use so the Mount Helena City Park and its trails are very popular with local mountain bikers.
Most of the trails in Mount Helena City Park connect with each other so there are many different options for great rides within the city park.
Using the West End Trail, mountain bikers can access the Mount Helena Ridge Trail which is a great 11-mile out and back ride that provides plenty of awesome single-track riding.
Mount Helena provides some of the closest opportunities for rock climbing in the Helena, MT area. The limestone cliffs that rise out of the hill are a perfect spot to rope up and try your hand at scaling a wall.
All of the routes on Mount Helena are considered to be single-pitch and max out at a difficulty of 5.6.
Mount Helena Trail Routes
Being that Mount Helena is encompassed within a city park, there are plenty of well-maintained, and accessible trails for hiking and biking.
The trails in the Mount Helena area, especially those that originate in the Mount Helena City Park are quite busy, as the area is a popular recreation area for Helena residents.
The 1906 Trail is a moderately challenging trail within Mount Helena City Park. The trail is a 2.9-mile out and back trail that starts at the main parking area for the park and heads up to the summit of Mount Helena.
This trail does cover approximately 1,023 feet of elevation gain, so it can be challenging for some hikers. You’ll enjoy great views of the city of Helena and the surrounding valley and mountains from this trail.
Generally considered to be a moderately difficult trail, the Powerline Trail within Mount Helena City Park is a great trail if you like to climb. This trail starts at the parking area and takes a steep incline to the summit of Mount Helena.
The trail is a short 1.8-miles out and back and has 994 feet of elevation gain.
The Prairie Trail is one of the prettiest hikes in Mount Helena City Park. The 1.34-mile trail can be hiked as an out and back, or connected with the 1906 Trail for a nice 3.0-mile loop.
The trail crosses through a really pretty prairie that surrounds the northwest side of Mount Helena. It then climbs fairly steeply up to the summit of Mount Helena.
The Backside Trail is one of the few trails within Mount Helena City Park that does not lead to the summit of Mount Helena. This 2.9-mile trail is aptly named as it circles around the backside of Mount Helena.
The loop trail has a total of 1,053 feet of elevation gain, so it is considered to be a moderately challenging trail. The Backside Trail is a great connector for the Mount Helena Ridge Trail.
If you are looking for a trail that will challenge your hiking, biking, or trail running skills, the Hogback Trail is the perfect option.
This half-mile-long trail heads off of the Prospect Shaft Trail and makes a very steep climb up the side of Mount Helena, where it connects with the 1906 Trail.
From this connector point you can either head to the summit, or head back to the parking area via the Powerline Trail.
Prospect Shafts Trail
Prospect Shafts Trail is a 2.6-mile out and back trail. It is considered to be moderately difficult thanks to a fair amount of elevation gain.
The trail starts at the main parking area and travels 1.3-miles to a junction where the Prospect Shafts Trail ends and splits into the Hogback Trail or the Backside Trail.
West End Trail
For the hiker or mountain biker that wants to leave the crowds behind, the West End Trail is a nice option. Though this trail is short, at just under a half-mile long, it is the best trail to use to access the Mount Helena Ridge Trail.
The trail is moderately difficult, but it is the most secluded trail in the area.
Mount Helena Ridge Trail
The Mount Helena Ridge Trail starts in Mount Helena City Park and leaves the park boundaries heading into the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.
The Mount Helena Ridge Trail is a 5.8-mile point-to-point trail that ends at Park City in Nelson Gulch. The trail, though longer, is a fairly easy hike, with only 800 feet of elevation gain.
This trail is heavily used by mountain bikers. You can double your mileage by doing this trail as an out and back, which is your best option if you don’t have a vehicle to shuttle you back to Mount Helena City Park.