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Helena Valley Northwest, Montana

Montana is one of twenty or more U.S. states that use Census County Divisions to help track the various subdivisions within each county.

The Helena Valley Northwest Census Designated Place is located within Lewis and Clark County, 3.5 miles north of Helena Valley West Central.

The small community with a population of fewer than 5,000 spans about 15 square miles and forms part of the Helena Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Helena Valley Northwest is situated along the outer edges of the capital Helena within the vicinity of the Scratchgravel Hills, which border the west side of the Helena Valley running parallel to Green Meadow Road.

This area is a popular attraction point to the northwest of the town and provides some top-notch recreation, especially in terms of hiking and biking. 

helena valley northwest

Main Attractions in or near Helena Valley Northwest

Recreation and historic culture—are two of the main things associated with anywhere in the region of Montana’s state capital.

Whether heading out towards the Scratchgravel Hills for some outdoor exploration or diving back towards downtown Helena with its museums and many other historical features, you won’t be short on things to do. 

Recreation Activities in or near Helena Valley Northwest

The Scratchgravel Hills in the Helena Valley is 5 miles north of Downtown Helena, and they have plenty of trails to explore.

The majority of the terrain comes by way of the Scratchgravel Hills Recreation Area, a popular region for all kinds of recreation, particularly biking and hiking.

hiking

The Scratchgravel Hills provide a good few trails and loops, and while still a popular point of attraction, the area tends to see quite a bit less traffic than Helena’s South Hills.

Covering close to 6,000 acres of former mining claims land, the Bureau of Land Management operates the recreation area, now considered top hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking destination.

The Scratchgravel Recreation Area prohibited motorized vehicles back in 2009 and there are a variety of trails and routes.

The trails are a mix of what is offered by the BLM by way of five trailheads and other trails that are basically old roads or well-worn paths sometimes ending up as dead ends if you aren’t familiar with the area.

There are various routes up to the peak but many walkers are unaware that some of the trails are actually on private land—meaning permission should be required. One such route is the Scratchgravel Peak Trail, a moderate 2.8-mile route that runs across the private property—so really permission is required.

However, you might see a few hikers who are aware of this trail and there is a parking area at the base–but no markers or such.

The trail provides some decent views of the surrounding region, and all the paths upward seem to lead to the summit.

There’s a rock outcrop with some really good panoramic views about two-thirds of the way up the route, and the left-hand trail is just slightly longer but a lot more of a gradual incline than the steeper right-hand trail.

The most popular starting point is from the Head Lane Trailhead, located at the southwest end of the recreation area.

This route ends up at the main ridge with some impressive views to the east and west along with some even terrain. After typically half a mile along with the trail, hikers arrive at the peak where the vistas over the Helena Valley are double-impressive.

Check out this list of hikes in Helena for more ideas about which way ad how far out to head. And of course, don’t forget this is Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest territory where you can find plenty of decent day hikes.

Biking

biking

The Scratchgravel Hills are NW Helena’s main year-round riding area. The snowfall is minimal and the open slopes of this area feature dry trails nearly every month.

Some of the well-known existing trails are a kind of combination of former Jeep trails and mining roads with some single-track. There are several main trailheads, namely: Head Lane, Birdseye, and John G Mine. 

Fishing

fishing

Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir links the city of Helena to Canyon Ferry Dam on the Missouri River.

The reservoir was developed primarily for local irrigation and municipal water purposes, but anyone looking for some decent fishing along the 6 miles or so of shoreline will see things in a different light once they have snagged a decent kokanee salmon or two.

There is a day-use area including a few picnic shelters and the reservoir is popular for both fishing and boating.

Camping

camping

Helena Campground and RV Park is a quiet campground north of the capital by about 7 miles. Amenities include showers and laundry services, and the sites are within easy reach of many Helena attractions.

Bookings are available which is recommended for this popular site during peak periods.

The Helena North KOA Journey is a popular campground in the northwest section of the Helena Valley. It has easy access from the highway—especially for bigger trailers, and amenities include top-quality free Wi-Fi and a dog park with a ‘large breed’ and ‘small breed’ section.

Accommodation–Hotels and Lodging

You won’t be short on the choice of accommodation anywhere within the region of Helena. To get much closer to the Helena Valley NW corner you might have to look at vacation rentals.

Aside from that you’ll have to head closer into the regions of Helena where there are plenty of hotels like the ones below closer to Helena Valley NW.

Special Events in Helena Valley NW  

  • May—Springfest—annual regional Helena event at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds
  • Jul—Last Chance Stampede & Fair—annual event near Helena featuring rodeo and fair activities
  • Check out more local events in the Helena Valley region HERE 

Activities and other Points of Interest near Helena Valley NW

Forests/State/National Parks/Wilderness Areas

Museums/Historic Items

Nearby Towns/Cities

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