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Leave it all on the trail
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Stopping thru Helena next week. I have the book for Best singletrack in Montana, but I was curious if someone wanted to give their two cents on best rides in Helena. Looks like there is a large network. :thumbsup:

We will also be camping, and was wondering if there were some cool camping spots close to town or away from town if its a sweet spot. Looking to stay away from the generators and the 27 kids that one couple decided to have.

Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! :cool:
 

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Try riding from the mount helena trailhead. Hit Dumpout trail, then climb Wakina Sky, down Stairway to Heaven, Back up Wakina Sky, down the trail that comes out right up the road from Mini Ridge, then climb up Mini Ridge, go down the Ridge trail to Show Me Your Horse, down Show Me Your Horse, Then go down Grizzly gulch road back to Dump Out trail and back to your car. It takes about 3 hours if you're moving pretty good. It's probably my favorite loop in Helena.
 

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Close to Helena are a few USFS campgrounds: Park Lake would be my first choice, but Cromwell Dixon up on the Divide isn't bad (18 miles out of town on Hwy 12), and Vigilante out by York is OK too, and has the advantage of being close to the York Bar (still the best hamburger I've found in MT).

For eating and drinking, the way to go is beers at the Blackfoot taproom (closes at 7:00, and as a taproom you're limited to 48 oz) followed by dinner at the Windbag, a short walk away on the walking mall. Good place- used to be our premier cathouse... Blackfoot on tap, and the prime rib sandwich is one of the best deals in town. Both places are close to 2nd homes for me these days.

There's another brewery in town, Lewis and Clark, located in the basement of a sports bar called the Brewhouse. In another town I'd probably like them a lot, but Blackfoot is just so much better. And the Brewhouse is OK, but it's basically a local version of Applebees.

Oh, yeah- riding. The Mt. Helena Ridge Trail is the centerpiece of our system. It's worth a ride. But why not stop in a bike shop or the Base Camp and pick up a local trail map for $8? MXracer299's loop is a good one, and I like the trails on Mt. Ascension, too. If you ride the Ridge, just pay attention to your exit route: bikes are strongly discouraged from descending on the 1906 trail, and so far we're doing OK on avoiding user conflicts.
 

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Agreed, pick up the new South Hills Trail map at a Bike Shop. That book you're talking about is years old and out of date. Bike Shops are Big Sky Cyclery (on 11th across the street from the mall) and Great Divide Cyclery (downtown on Jackson). Any trails on the Mt. Helena Ridge trail will treat you well, also head over to Rodney Ridge or Mt. Ascension. Blackfoot Brewery is very tasty, but the unfilteredness tears up my stomach. dinner at Windbag, Brewhouse, Mediterranean Grill, Bert & Ernies for little higher class. Silver Star is a pretty package but I've always been disappointed with the food quality. Lower class, the wife and I love to eat at Last Chance Casino, get yourself a 1/2 lb Gulch Burger. Suds Hut has best fried chicken around.

Camping away from others, we like Avalanche Gulch near Canyon Ferry.
 

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ewarnerusa said:
That book you're talking about is years old and out of date.
I think Switchback78 is referring to "Montana Singletrack", which just came out a couple of years ago and is not out of date at all. "Mountain Biking Helena" is out of date. Lots has changed since 1998.

For a local feel and to meet local bikers, stick with the Blackfoot and Windbag.
 

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montanatom said:
I think Switchback78 is referring to "Montana Singletrack", which just came out a couple of years ago and is not out of date at all. "Mountain Biking Helena" is out of date. Lots has changed since 1998.

For a local feel and to meet local bikers, stick with the Blackfoot and Windbag.
Yeah, I was thinking of the "Mountain Biking Helena" book.

Since MXRacer threw out some favorite trail names, I'll play. I start from my house, head up Sanders St. to the water tower and Rocky Road, ride over to and then up Mt. Ascension and down Entertainment (this can be bypassed on "easy" days and just take the Archery Range Trail), up Rodney Ridge, down Don't Fence Me In, towards town on Oro Fino Gulch Rd, back up Grizzly Gulch, up McKelvy, left on Mt. Helena Ridge Trail, down Show Me The Horse, then back into town on Grizzly Gulch Rd and through town to get home. Usually around a 20 mile trip. Highly recommend Show Me The Horse.

Waukina Sky is a nice climb but more fun to descend. Unfortunately, it is a popular trail in the uphill direction so you can get some pretty mean stares if you bomb down it. Fortunately there are basically two parallel trails there, the actual trail and the route up the creek bottom. Helena Ridge Trail is the centerpiece and I highly recommend riding it in the direction towards town. I'm not sure when the trolley rides start, but on Saturdays in the summer you can ride the trolley with your bike for free to the Mt. Helena Ridge trail head. Here's the old link, I'm not sure of the current schedule. http://www.downtownhelena.com/trolley.htm
If you feel like driving to a trailhead, head south of town to the Montana City exit, take a left and then first right on McLellan Creek Rd and follow that up into the mountains.
 
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