Mount Helena City Park is a 620-acre (2.5 km2) park in Helena, Montana. The park encompasses Mount Helena which rises 5,468 feet (1,667 m) above sea level, overlooking the city of Helena 1,300 feet (396 m) below. The park includes six trails up and around the mountain, some of which connect to other trails in nearby Helena National Forest. Other trails go to the cave nicknamed “Devil’s Kitchen”, to the big letter “H” on the side of the mountain (the “H” was repainted April 2015 for the first time since 2008) overlooking the city, and to the summit of the mountain. The park is free of admission and is maintained by the City of Helena and local conservation and recreation groups from the Helena area.
There are many trails on Mount Helena…including the following:
This well designed trail has offered the easiest and most direct route to the top of the mountain for over 70 years. It follows the base of the limestone cliffs for awhile, and passes the Devil’s Kitchen.
THE PRAIRIE TRAIL
This trail was named for the beautiful prairie wildflowers that bloom along its length, and it is perhaps the best place to see the cliffs and to enjoy the park’s remarkably varied north-slope landscapes. The colors here are always beautiful, but especially when the wildflowers are in bloom and near sunset or sunrise.
THE BACKSIDE TRAIL
An interesting trail passing through a typically open and grassy woodland of ponderosa pine. You’ll notice that the pines at the trail’s western end have a little fire-blackening at the base of their trunks. Quick burning grass fires are a frequent visitor to such woodlands, and the pines are well adapted to thrive in spite of it.
THE HOGBACK TRAIL
A rather rough and rocky trail that leads from the peak of the mountain southward along the exposed Hogback Ridge. It is a lot more fun to go down this trail than to go up, but it offers spectacular views in all directions, and the closest thing to a wind-swept alpine experience to be had on our little mountain.
THE PROSPECTOR SHAFTS TRAIL
Named for the prospector shafts about half-way along its length. This is a long and very interesting trail that winds through a wide variety of landscapes, and which makes a lot of unexpected twists and turns. A fine way to explore the recently acquired southeast quarter of the park.
THE WEST END TRAIL
This is the most remote part of the park. The trail leads through a beautiful little meadow in the saddle between Mount Helena itself and the next prominent bump along the ridge. It is a great place to spend a lazy afternoon.