Helena, Montana offers over 80 miles of trails that you can access right from Downtown. These trails are part of the South Hills Trail System and are managed by the Prickly Pear Land Trust cooperatively with the City of Helena, Helena National Forest and Bureau of Land Management.
Beyond Helena, there are hundreds miles more of trails that are ready for you to explore on your Montana day hiking experience.
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In town for only a couple days, Visit Helena Montana has a map loaner program so you can borrow a South Hills Trail Map for free. Click this link for directions and hours.
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Exploring Beyond the South Hills?
Some of Our Favorite Helena, Montana Day Hikes
Mount Helena City Park - Access directly from Downtown Helena - South Hills Trail System
Mount Helena City Park is Helena’s most noticeable landmark and features numerous trails of various levels of difficulty across the park’s 900+ acres. Maps of this area are located at the base of the mountain in a kiosk. Trail maps are available for purchase at all the Helena outdoor stores including Base Camp, Bob Wards, Capital Sports & Western and Montana Outdoor Sports.
Obviously, there are many different routes and trailheads, but this is one that we often recommend to Helena visitors.
To reach the main trail head from Downtown Helena, head South on Park Avenue, then take a right on Carriage Lane at the Reeder's Village Subdivision Entrance. From Carriage Lane, follow the signs to the Mount Helena City Park Trailhead at the end of Reeder's Village Drive. Click here for a google map to the trailhead parking.
An ideal loop if you have 2-3 hours, depending on your hiking level is to take the 1906 Trail to the Summit of Mount Helena and then come down the mountain via the Hogback Trail to the Prospect Shafts Trail, wrapping around the mountain to where you parked. Note: It looks quicker to take the Power Line trail down, but please note that this trail is really steep and tough to come down.
Mount Ascension - Access Directly from Downtown Helena - South Hills Trail System
The easiest way for visitors to access Mount Ascension is via the Beattie Street Trailhead and Parking Area. Here are directions to the trailhead. There are many different loops you can explore on Mount Ascension from this trailhead. Want to go to the top of the Mount Ascension Summit - elevation 5282 feet? Here's a route that you might enjoy to reach the top:
From the Trail head take the Prickly Pear from the Parking lot, then turn right onto PayDirt. This will bring you to Trail Junction 14 (where things can get a little tricky - because you'll be at an awkward intersection, but it is well-marked). You will want to follow the signs to the 2006 Trail/Mount Ascension Summit. You'll take the 2006 Trail to the summit. You can head down the same way you came up or mix it up a bit by take the Mount Ascension Loop Trail around the city-side of the summit to the 2006 Trail.
Trout Creek Canyon Trail - near York, Montana
Trout Creek Canyon trail is relatively easy 3.0 miles in length. It begins near Vigilante Campground and ends at Forest Service Road #138. Trail is located approximately 24 miles northeast of Helena, Montana in the Big Belt Mountains. Follow Hwy 280 east of Helena about 16 miles to the small community of York. Proceed northeast along Trout Creek another 8 miles to the end of the road and the campground. Trailhead is located in the Campground. Most of the trail is handicapped accessible and this a great family hike. Click here for a google map to the trailhead parking. This is the perfect hike for families CHECK OUT our blog and be sure to print a Tout Creek Canyon Brochure.
Refrigerator Canyon - near York, Montana
This canyon located northeast of Helena, Montana is a fantastic destination on a hot summer day. Temperatures within the small cayon reamain cool year round. Take county road 280, otherwise known as York Road. At the York Bar, turn left onto a gravel road and head north about 8 miles to Nelson. At Nelson, turn right heading east toward Hogback Mountain approximately 5 miles. The trailhead sign is large and easily seen from the road. For those with horses, there is a roadside turnout here with a hitching rack, but you may need to go up the road a mile or so to turn around. Click here for a google map to the trailhead.
Casey Meadows Trail - near Montana City, Montana
This easy walk in the Elkhorn Mountains features a gradual elevation gain of 1,300 feet on the three-mile route to the meadow. Other trails intersect at the meadow for hikers seeking additional recreational oppertunities. From Helena take Interstate 15 South to Montana City and turn right at the school. Follow this road past Saddle Mountain Estates to Forest Road 294 and the Casey Meadows Trailhead. Note: I've done this trail with my kids when they were 8 and 10 and they enjoyed the hike very much. It's not too strenuous unless you choose to head up to Casey Peak. The Meadows is perfect for the family.
Crow Creek Falls - near Townsend, Montana
To get to Crow Creek Falls, travel south to Townsend on highway 287 for 30 miles to Indian Creek Road (FR 360). Follow this road for approximately 11 miles to the juncstion with Weston Creek Road (FR 4031). Travel about 2.5 miles on FR4031 until its junction with Weasel Creek Road (FR405). Follow FR 405 to the Eagle Guard Station. The trailhead is west of the station. From the trailhead, hikers can take 2 routs to the falls:
- Follow Trail 112 for approximatly one mile to the Trail 134 Trailhead. Trail 134 will take you the remaining two miles to the falls.
- The trailhead for Trail 109 is east of the Eagle Guard Station and leads hikers 3.5 miles to falls.