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  1. #1
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    Helena Montana in September

    My wife will be in Helena on business towards the end of September. I'm seriously considering taking some vacation time to do a little riding and maybe even some backpacking. Could someone give me advice on fun things to do in town at night and ride and backpacking info? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Helena in September is Great!

    That right in the sweet spot. Temps are perfect and all the tourists have gone home and all the kiddies are back in school.

    You've gor great singletrack opportunites right on the edge of town. Mt Helena has a superb network of trails you can reach without ever getting in your car. Then there's Rodney Ridge, Mt Ascension, and my personal favorite, up Wakina Sky to Mt Helena Ridge and back down Show Me the Horse. Get the book "Montana Singletrack" from Beartooth Publishing. It will show you the goods for the immediate area. A little further out is a great, remote loop well worth the trip. I highly recommend the Little Blackfoot Loop.
    http://www.singletracks.com/bike-tra...dows-loop.html
    You can also head up to the continental divide at Rogers Pass. This is rough trail, exposed and windy, so it may not be the most fun.

    You're also within an easy day trip to Bozeman and all the great trails around there, including the Bangtail Divide, South Cottonwood, and Emerald lake. A little closer is the Whitehall area, which has two trails with the best views you will ever see.
    http://www.singletracks.com/bike-tra...abin-lake.html
    http://www.singletracks.com/bike-tra...uise-lake.html
    and the biggest epic you will find, the Curly Lake Highline.

    You're also close to Butte, which has unheralded (and largely untraveled) singletrack opportunities.
    http://www.singletracks.com/bike-tra...hland-cdt.html
    http://www.singletracks.com/bike-tra...ll-canyon.html
    http://www.singletracks.com/bike-tra...ver-ponds.html

    As far as backpacking opportunities, you're not far from the Bob Marshall/Great Bear/Scapegoat Wilderness complex, the largest in the lower 48. Simply unbeatable.

    I'm sure Helena has nightlife, but I'm afraid I'm no help there. I never did any thing more adventurous than get an ice cream at the carousel. Helena is the state capitol and has a college, so I'm sure there's something.

    If you go, your vacation time will be very well spent. Enjoy!
    All other things are rarely equal . . .

  3. #3
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    Good suggestions by Fischman. If you're in Helena you should ride the South Hills area and Mt Helena.

    The Bob is great for hiking. Just watch out for snow in the mtns in Sept...it happens.

    The nightlife in Helena isn't as great as Missoula or Bozeman. A popular local brewery http://www.helenabrewhouse.com/default.htm

  4. #4
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    I haven't read "Montana Singletrack" from Beartooth Publishing, but the outdoors shops in town have a Prickly Pear Landtrust South Hills Map that is worth picking up for a look at our extensive trail system right from town. As mentioned, no need to to drive anywhere. But there is of course even more options within 30 minutes drive.
    Helena nightlife is not great as far as I know, I always had much more fun in college towns (Missoula and Bozeman) than Helena.

  5. #5
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    In my opinion a must ride is the Mt. Helena ridge trail. And Entertainment trail in the south hills, all accessible from town.... If your here on wednesday be sure to check out Alive @ 5. Its about as exciting as it gets here lol.

    P.s. if your under about 35 check out the Lai-bat-ion station out in the valley... Lots of the younger crowd hang out there i have heard... Im only eighteen so i would know lol. I would love to show you around the trails if i make it home from Moscow (Idaho). Any specific date? I plan on coming home to do a little hunting in late september and would love someone new to ride with...

  6. #6
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    Helena riding

    Absolutely! Do you think I'll be able to rent a bike or do I need to figure out how much it would cost to get my SS out there?

  7. #7
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    well, i would just rent a bike from Great Divide Cyclery. its only $30 dollars a day! they rent specialized bikes... they are pretty well maintained as well. what kind of riding you do?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by donmeredith74
    Absolutely! Do you think I'll be able to rent a bike or do I need to figure out how much it would cost to get my SS out there?
    I'll plug Great divide cyclery as well, since I ride for the club! 406-443-5188
    There is also Big Sky Cyclery and they carry Giant, Rocky Mountain, and Felt that you can rent.

  9. #9
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    Hmm... I didnt know that Big Sky Cyclery actually rented bikes like Great Divide! I'll have to check that out next time I go in there...

  10. #10
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    Helena= amazing riding right from town. Also means semi-close proximity to aforementioned rides such as those in the T-roots, gallatins, etc. We have a bunch of bars and a really good local brewery. So if/when u get to town, shoot one of us loc's an email, I'm sure we can show you some fo the goods.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by helenarider
    Hmm... I didnt know that Big Sky Cyclery actually rented bikes like Great Divide! I'll have to check that out next time I go in there...
    I actually don't know the policy. But say "demo" rather than rent and maybe they will assume you might buy one afterwards. I have been on rides with others who were demoing a BSC bike.
    Last edited by ewarnerusa; 07-28-2009 at 09:46 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by donmeredith74
    My wife will be in Helena on business towards the end of September. I'm seriously considering taking some vacation time to do a little riding and maybe even some backpacking. Could someone give me advice on fun things to do in town at night and ride and backpacking info? Thanks in advance!
    I forgot to mention some obvious ones, the local group mountain bike rides leaving from town.
    Monday night - Helena Bike Club - Park Ave. Building, 301 S. Park Ave. at 5:30 p.m.
    Wednesday night - Big Sky Cyclery - 1419 11th Ave. - shop parking lot at 6:30
    Friday night - Great Divide Cyclery - 336 Jackson - shop door at 5:30
    Saturday mornings - free trolley ride for you and your bike to the Mount Helena Ridge trailhead, picks up at Woman's Mural (Broadway and Last Chance Gulch) at 8, 8:40, and 9:20 am.

  13. #13
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    I think you're fairly well covered here. I second picking up the PPLT trail map, particularly if you don't pick up a group ride. Post in here again closer to the time as well. I don't know what kind of rides you like, but the Ridge, Show Me the Horse, Entertainment (with the new extension) and Stairway to Heaven are some of my favorites.

    Nightlife isn't as bad as portrayed. There are fewer bars and fewer college kids, but frankly, MT is MT. It's not like Bozeman or Missoula have Twilo-style dance clubs or anything. I'd start out at Blackfoot as it's the best brewery in town (sorry Max!), and there's usually a pretty good crowd for you to meet new people and strike up conversations. There are a half-handful of decent restaurants and bars. In downtown, I recommend the Windbag, Lucca's, On Broadway and Silver Star, all of which have bars attached. Toi's Thai is decent. I have to give a shout out to Karmadillos in Reeder's Alley, too. Good SW-style Mexican-esque food, and friendly staff. Taco del Sol on the walking mall is worth a shot too, and she has a beer/wine license now. Good price on draft BF. For bars, I confess a soft spot for the Rialto, but it's dead until after dark.

    Avoid Riley's Irish Pub. Ugh. I've given that place so many more chances than they deserve, and I have had more bad service/food experiences than I can bother to type. Even a change of ownership didn't help.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

    Riding in Helena? Everything you need to know, right here.

  14. #14
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    look me up

    These guys all have it covered for Helena riding. It's truly exceptional. There are some great connector loops you can do for 3-plus hours of riding and 5,000 feet elevation gain. The PPLT map is a must, and it's all really well signed up in the extensive trail system.

    Great Divide Cyclery is definitely the place to pick up a test fleet bike. You should call far ahead to reserve one of the Speci fleet. Dynamite!

    I'd be happy to ride with you if you want. Could always use a good day off work fooling around on the trails. Just post back here or PM me.

    As for nightlife, you've got to go to the Blackfoot Brewery, right on Park Ave., conveniently located for post-ride beers. The brewery is one of the finest microbreweries you'll find. Just like their saying, Real good beer, real good people.

  15. #15
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    Helena in September

    Thanks for all of the great replies. I've booked my flights and reserved a bike. I gave serious consideration to shipping my ride out there but decided against all of the complication. I'll plan on riding the 28th and 29th before I head back home Wednesday. I can't wait!

  16. #16
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    Have fun. Let us know how much fun you had riding the trails.

    Take note of all the dead pine trees from the pine beetles. It's especially bad going over MacDonald Pass.

  17. #17
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    Just rode this today with some weather coming in- went up the Wakina Sky trail and down into town via the Mt Helena ridge-

    Wow you guys have some of the best riding close to town that I have ever seen. Nice trails, well laid-out and maintained.

  18. #18
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    So the time has FINALLY come. We're flying out Friday and plan on visiting some friends in Hamilton Saturday. Should we go the regular route (Hwy 12) or take the Skalkaho Pass (Hwy 38)? We have to do a little sight seeing but I don't want to turn it into a 12 hour drive either. Thanks!

  19. #19
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    I just got back from my Montana trip. I got to float the Bitterroot with my wife and a couple of friends, explored Missoula, Hamilton & Helena and did a little trail riding in Helena. I loved every second of it and everyone we ran into was fantastic. Thanks to everyone for the recommendations from trails to LBS to restaurants. WE LOVE MONTANA!

    If you're ever in South Carolina please let me return the favor!

  20. #20
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    Write your senator, tell him you don't want to lose the singletrack in MT. I think that would be the best thanks the Mountain MTB Alliance could get.
    ...building wherever they'll let me...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by donmeredith74
    I just got back from my Montana trip. I got to float the Bitterroot with my wife and a couple of friends, explored Missoula, Hamilton & Helena and did a little trail riding in Helena. I loved every second of it and everyone we ran into was fantastic. Thanks to everyone for the recommendations from trails to LBS to restaurants. WE LOVE MONTANA!

    If you're ever in South Carolina please let me return the favor!
    Glad you enjoyed it. It's a great place to visit and an even better place to live.

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    can I get an amen!

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