For our spring break road trip finale, Zosia
Zgolak and I ascended Mount Ascension in Helena, Montana on 24 April
2022. We had originally planned to hike this diminutive but
officially-named summit at the start of our trip, but at the time, we
balked because of frigid temperatures. Nine days later, the weather
was much more pleasant. Similar to nearby Mount Helena, numerous
trails crisscross Mount Ascension and make it popular with joggers, dog
walkers, and mountain bikers. Furthermore, there are multiple
access points, and being the lazy sort, I chose one that made the ascent
ridiculously short. Given that we still had a lot of driving ahead
of us to get home, Zosia did not object to my choice.
From Helena city centre, drive all the way south on Saunders Street
which eventually bends eastward and becomes Virginia Dale Street.
Turn right onto Lime Kiln Road and drive 1.0 kilometre before making
another right turn. The road passes a couple of private driveways
before the pavement ends, but the gravel road beyond should still be
suitable for 2WD vehicles. From the last right turn, drive 2.0
kilometres to a 3-way junction. Park here without blocking any of
the roads. The road heading west is gated a short distance from the
junction and is the start of "2006 Trail".
From the 3-way junction, Zosia and I ignored a signed trail immediately
branching off to the left and continued along "2006 Trail" past the gate.
After an easy walk for a little over a kilometre, we reached a 5-way
trail junction marked by a sign post stuck in a large cairn.
Continuing straight ahead, we climbed the remaining short distance to the
summit of Mount Ascension. I did mention that our chosen route was
After congratulating ourselves for such an epic achievement, Zosia and I
returned to the 5-way trail junction, but instead of backtracking along
"2006 Trail", we took "Entertainment Trail". This led us to a
higher unnamed bump to the southwest with slightly better views than
Mount Ascension. From this bump, we continued southward along
"Entertainment Trail" until we reached a junction with a trail branching
to the left. This is the same trail which we ignored at the start
of our hike, and it led us efficiently back to our parking spot without
Leaving Helena, Zosia and I drove to Great Falls and stopped to play a
round of disc golf there before heading back to Canada. The border
crossing was a bit of a nightmare. Although our interview with the
border agent only took a few minutes, we had to wait in line on the road
for an hour and forty minutes just to get to him. We could have
ascended and descended Mount Ascension twice during that time!
From the high point of the unnamed bump (1632 metres), Zosia enjoys
nice views of the city of Helena, Montana with Mount Ascension behind
||Here is a more comprehensive view of
||Zosia descends the backside of the
unnamed bump and will eventually take a connector trail back to
Distance: 2.9 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 1 hour 23 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 116 metres
Sonny attempts a long putt at the Warden Park Disc Golf Course in Great
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
Zosia flings a disc past the star-spangled banner while a T-Rex chases
her from behind.
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak