“A ridge traverse with moderate climbing, sweet singletrack and amazing views. A classic.”
— Leslie Kehmeier
Mt Helena Ridge is one of a handful of must-do rides in the Captial City of Montana. Moderate climbing, sweet singletrack and amazing views make this a classic.
Mt Helena Ridge ride is accessed at its namesake trailhead on Prospector Gulch Rd, 5.5 miles from downtown Helena. You can either pedal from town or utilize a shuttle system.
In summer the Trail Rider, a free shuttle from downtown is a great way to access the trail for a point-to-point ride. Check Bike Helena
for shuttle status.
Need to Know
Mt Helena Ridge is high and exposed. Be prepared to descend quickly when weather approaches. There are multiple intersecting trails that provide options for descending.
Since the route is easily accessed from town, be prepared for a variety of other trail users (hikers and trail runners). The heaviest trail traffic is found from the east end in Mt Helena City Park.
From the trailhead, the route climbs straight up initially and then settles into steady pedaling across open slopes towards the first taste of the ridge. After a punchy and loose climb to reach the top, the route drops into and across a saddle.
From here Mt Helena Ridge jumps in and out of pine stands as it starts its first descent. The grade is mellow at first and then transitions to steep and loose. As the grade rolls flat, you'll pass the intersection for Mini-Ridge and Emmet's and then continue on through the trees.
The route rolls on the contour for a bit, uphill at first and then descending. After breaking out into the open briefly, the trail dives back into the trees, down a quick, steep rocky descent and screams across a hidden meadow. It will seem like you'll be in for another steep grunt up the other side; luckily the route bangs right and takes up contouring again.
The next section traverses an open grassy hillside with amazing views all around. Carving left, notice the route below, as the ridge drops so will you.
Before a long open straightaway, pass the junction for Show Me the Horse, a great option for descending the ridge before getting into Mt Helena City Park.
At the end of the flat run, duck left into the trees and then pop out again for yet another high meadow. From here it's mostly open and a bit more rocky until the intersection with South Dump Gulch
Stay left here and at the next intersection to connect to West End
. Turn right and pedal a moderately technical connector with a few rocky, root-bound challenges.
Take another right at Backside
to climb steadily around the southwest side of Mt Helena. The trail is somewhat rocky, but very rideable. At the next junction you'll be ready for the final bit of the ride.
Stay right to tackle, Prospect Shafts
, a steep route down Mt Helena.
Very loose and rocky at first, the trail is wide and runs down an open face. The grade eventually lessens and the trail becomes more narrow as it traverses towards the Mt Helena trailhead.