In the Helena Valley it’s easy to stick to the hikes you know. Mount Ascension and Mount Helena offer easily accessible, fun hiking for the whole family. But, not far from the city’s limits is a trail with something to offer for just about any recreationist.
Just under 3.5 miles from Unionville, an easily missed trailhead sits to the left of the road just before a sign signals the driver of the road narrowing. The trail is known to bikers in town as Brooklyn Bridge, but to myself and the friend that first showed me the trailhead, it’s just a spot tucked away in the Helena National Forest, perfect for the adventurous hiker.
The trail winds up a short climb — about three quarters of a mile — to the first rise. There, one can either continue straight down the trail, or venture to the southeast and explore a series of meadows with great panoramic views of the South Hills. Here, wildflowers grow rampant in the spring. The trail continues over a series of gentle hills and gullies for several miles, running into private land below Skihi Peak.
Hikers may opt to section hike a couple of miles with the family. The trail is mostly two-track for the first three miles and makes for easy hiking for the little ones. At this time of year the trail would be great for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
For bikers the trail moves from wide two-track, to techy singletrack farther on, offering both tech and flow sections for bikers of all skills. Some of the later sections of trail are rocky and may be difficult for hikers or inexperienced mountain bikers.
Brooklyn Bridge has something to offer for everyone, so take some time this winter to strap on your snowshoes or hop on your fat bike and try something new and different in the Helena Valley.
This story has been edited to note private land in the area.