Hiking

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The Helena National Forest manages over 1,000 miles of designated trails. These routes provide a variety of challenge and opportunities.

Trail Difficulty: Generally, difficulty ratings are not assigned to trails on the National Forest (with the exception of cross-country ski trails). The degree of difficulty is very subjective and depends upon factors such as personal fitness and health. Trail users are encouraged to seek information about specific trails including: trail length, elevation changes, topography, and current conditions. Related trail information can be found at this website or by calling one of the Helena Forest Ranger Districts.

Shared Use: Helena Forest trails are open to a variety of uses. Please travel with the expectation of encountering other people on the trail (especially when you least anticipate it). Trails designated as ATV routes are also open to motorcycles, horses, mountain bikes and hikers. Trails closed to motorized travel are usually open to all other non-motorized uses. One exception is trails located within the Scapegoat and Gates of the Mountains Wilderness areas. Wilderness trails are closed to both motorized use and mechanized equipment such as mountain bikes. Please refer to trail symbols in this website or contact a Helena Forest office for information regarding allowed uses on specific trails.

Safety: Forest visitors are responsible for recognizing risks inherent with backcountry travel and taking appropriate precautions. Trails on the Helena Forest are maintained to agency standards that ensure the safety of travelers. However, there are other important safety considerations.

  • Animals: Animals such as bears and moose can present an immediate and direct threat to your safety. Please be aware of the potential for animal encounters and learn the appropriate avoidance techniques.
  • Climate: Weather conditions in western Montana often change quickly and dramatically. Please check local weather forecasts before you begin your trail excursion. Regardless of existing weather conditions or predictions, be prepared for moisture and cool temperatures.