Correct about the hardtail. If your budget is only 350, DO NOT go for a full suspension as you can't get anywhere near a quality dualie for even $1000. It will also be lighter and mean less maintenance.
My first mountain bike was in that price range, a 2000 or so Specialized Hardrock. (It was about 350 as well). It worked great for me, I really loved that bike. I took in on the street, fire roads, and some fairly technical trails and it did everything I asked of it. Obviously I outgrew it and got a larger, lighter, more expensive hardtail, but that Hardrock really introduced me to my love of biking in the first place. (Now I probably have too many bikes...if thats possible...)