Open Lands & Trails

Helena’s open lands hold precious scenic, cultural and recreational values.  Open lands are a spectacular backdrop for our town and provide citizens with access to a variety of recreation opportunities.  The City of Helena currently owns and manages over 1,950 acres of undeveloped parkland, including the popular Mount Helena City Park and several other trail locations. 

Open lands pose unique management issues that come with wildlands directly adjacent to an urban environment.  You can learn more about the vision for Helena’s future in the Helena Open Lands Management plan.  Much of Helena’s open lands were purchased with proceeds from the Helena open space bond passed in 1995.  All of the money has either been spent or committed.  The remaining task is managing and maintaining the land.  In January of 2007, the City Commission voted to assess properties citywide to create a maintenance fund for these lands.  The total annual assessment is about $156,000.

Helena Open Lands Listening Session

Fall Open Lands Major Projects Listening Session – September 15, 2020

The City Open Lands and Recreation Department (City) and Helena Open Lands Management Advisory Committee (HOLMAC) hosted a public listening session on September 15, 2020 to:

  1. Present City proposed on Helena Open Lands 
  2. Present a list of project suggestions on Helena Open Lands submitted to the City during the current calendar year by members of the public
  3. Solicit additional project suggestions from the public
  4. Accept feedback on proposed projects from the public

The public has the opportunity to submit additional project ideas and comments to the City and HOLMAC for 15 calendar days following the listening session. These will be due September 30, 2020. 

Helena Open Lands Listening Sessions

Helena Open Lands Listening Sessions

Beattie Street Trailhead

Beattie Street Trailhead

Helena is known regionally and nationally for its comprehensive trail system abutting the Continental Divide, and accessible from various points in city limits. The Beattie Street Trailhead is the starting point for miles of diversified trails and destinations, including Mt. Ascension. The Beattie Street Trailhead is the primary access to the South Hills east of Davis Gulch. Its popularity has become evident over the past few years with increasing numbers of cars at the trailhead. The City of Helena has been working to address needs and associated impacts of increased usage. In September 2018, the City Commission approved one of three alternative preliminary designs for parking and directed City Parks and Recreation to examine other improvements to Beattie Street. WGM Group, Inc. was contracted to provide design for Beattie Street paving and traffic calming measures, final design on the approved parking alternative, and cost estimates for construction. Design work was completed in Dec. 2019. Bidding and construction will move forward in 2020.

View conceptual designs here.

Maps

Maps

Disclaimer for interactive maps:

*IMPORTANT* These data are NOT the official records and may be inaccurate and incomplete.  Original and official copies of deeds, surveys, plats and ownership information are available at the Lewis & Clarke County Clerk and Recorder office.  By using this GIS information, the user acknowledges and accepts fully responsibility for verifying the correctness and the completeness of any of the information provided here.  The City of Helena and Lewis & Clarke County do not warrant, either explicit or implied, the completeness or accuracy of the information provided.  Additionally, the city and county accept no liability of any kind, including but not limited to any losses or damages that may result from the wrongful reliance on this information, and the user also accepts full responsibility for any subsequent use of reuse of the data, and shall be solely responsible for results or any damages which may result from the use of any of these data.  This map does not necessarily depict road ownership or maintenance, wither public or private.  Nor, does it necessarily depict all roadways in the county.  The data shown on this map were derived from various sources at different scales for a variety of purposes, and there is great variability in the spatial accuracy of the different data sets.  Therefore, there may be some mis-alignment between data sets and layers.

Rules and Regulations

Rules and Regulations

  • Hunting, firing a bow, or firing a gun is prohibited on city open lands.  Archery is allowed only at Davis Gulch archery range.  To use the facility requires a membership to the local archery association.
  • Camp fires or any open fires are prohibited on city open lands.
  • Camping is prohibited on any parks unless written permission is given by the Open Lands Manager
  • Dogs must be kept on leash within 100 yards of the trailhead and are expected to remain on leashes at trailheads.  Dogs on trails must be either kept on a leash or within site and under voice control.  These precautions are to prevent unwanted interactions between people, other dogs and wildlife.  To report problems with dogs please call Animal Control at the police non-emergency number (406)442-3233 or if it is an emergency call 911.  We also ask that you pick up and dispose of all dog waste.
  • Gathering firewood is prohibited unless authorized by the Open Lands Manager.  The city donates some of the downed materials from our fuel reduction projects as firewood for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP).  This is coordinated with volunteers to split and transport the cut wood to LIEAP, who then disperses the material to those who qualify for the program.  
  • Horseback riding is prohibited on city property.  With the variety of public lands in the area it is important to know the boundaries between city and state or federal ground.
  • In order to keep the open lands pristine for wildlife and for continued recreational use, we must pick up after ourselves.  If everyone properly disposes of their waste, we can achieve that goal.  We follow the motto- Pack it in, Pack it out.
  • The use of motor vehicles such as ATVs, 4-wheelers, trucks and motorcycles is prohibited on open lands unless authorized.  Authorized use would be for an open land maintenance related project.  All other motor vehicle use would require approval by the Open Lands Manager.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities

The Parks and Recreation Department has several opportunities for those wishing to volunteer.  Please contact us directly to inquire.

Brad Langsather, Open Lands Manager

Resource Links

Chapter 7 Open Lands Management Plan