As I mentioned we had a great view of Mount Helena from our campground so our last day in Helena was the day we decided to hike to its top. After searching the internet for some information on trails I pretty much settled on our hike starting on the 1906 trail and finishing on the prospector’s shaft trail. Looking at the trail map I found it to be a bit confusing but it looked like the place to start was at the Mount Helena City Park parking lot.
Mount Helena City Park is 620 acres in size and one of the largest city parks in the United States. Its center piece is Mount Helena which is 5,468 feet above sea level and towers over the city of Helena which is some 1,300 feet below. We parked (free parking and admittance) and found the nearby trailhead for the1906 Trail.
This 3.5 to 4 mile trail happened to be just what we needed with its 1,000 feet of elevation gain. We decided it would be a great way to get our mountain hiking legs back under us. After spending most of the last year on flat land these flatlander legs sure needed some conditioning. The 1906 trail started off as an easy hike and later became more of a moderate hike due the to increasing slope. No switchbacks were encountered since the trail just wraps around the mountain as it climbs. All along the trail we were serenaded by chickadees and red breasted nuthatches.
The trail is said to be the the easiest and most direct route to the top of the mountain. We hiked along the base of the limestone cliffs for awhile and passed by an interesting cave nicknamed the "Devil's Kitchen" which would be even better if it wasn’t for all the graffiti. As we neared the top we were passed by a young fellow who struck up a conversation with us.
What an interesting and polite fellow Jesse was. He walked and talked with us up the last 1/4 mile or so to the top of Mount Helena. Jesse was fresh out of culinary school and was back home in Helena taking a break from school before seeking employment. It was such a pleasure meeting up with such a nice guy. Once we reached the top of Mount Helena we were overlooking the city. It was a really nice 360 degree panoramic view from the summit of the mountain.
After saying our goodbyes to Jesse we hiked back over to the “other summit” where the radio towers were. Along the way we looked for the Prospector Shafts Trail but never found it so we simply retraced our steps back and took the 1906 trail back down. Later I learned we should have taken the Hogback Trail which then connects to the Prospector Shafts Trail. Oh well, maybe next time we will do that…
After the hike we checked out the 406 Restaurant and Bar for happy hour and scored a couple of glasses on an Oskar Blues Pint night promo. Once back home we started readying for our move to our next spot move to Kalispell where we will sit for a much longer time to relax a bit and explore Glacier National Park once again..
NOTE: We are currently in Kalispell Montana for 4 weeks…