Helena's Open Lands provide a wonderful recreation opportunity for Helena's residents
and visitors. However, there is a marked lack of facilities and recreation opportunities for individuals with limited mobility, who rely on wheelchairs, and for those who cannot ascend or descend the existing trails. Recognizing the disparity between these two points,
the Rotary Club of Helena is seeking to expand access to Helena's open lands with opportunities that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Rotary reached out to the City of Helena's Parks and Recreation Department in January 2019
to begin discussing the potential of building a new ADA compliant trail from the Mt. Helena Trailhead parking lot. The proposed trail would travel north and west to a vantage point that provides panoramic views of Helena and the Helena Valley, including the downtown area, the Cathedral, Carroll College, and the Capitol.
The proposed trail is approximately one-half mile (780 meters) in length and will have an overall grade of less than 2%, with the trail gaining approximately 40 feet of elevation (13 meters) over its length. A meeting with the City's ADA Compliance Committee presented the suggestion of ADA-compliant carveouts with benches along the route. This proposal includes
three such carveouts that would also host an interpretive sign to present information about
Mt. Helena's 1) flora and fauna, 2) history, and 3) geology. Additionally, a sign at the terminus of the trail is proposed to explain the surrounding landscape.
Our club has secured pledges for much of the budgeted $25,750 to build the trail. We are requesting a matching grant of $2,500 to allow our club to pay for the excavation and surface material spreading for the trail. Club members will play a significant role in spreading the decomposed granite surface material on the trail.
We anticipate the trail will be constructed during the upcoming summer of 2020. However, given the shut down of many activities as a result of Covid-19, it is possible we will not be able to complete the project until the spring of 2021. Even if we must delay the project, it is a high priority for our Club and we hope that the District will support our efforts.