The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (in short Continental Divide Trail) is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles (5,000 km) between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states - Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. In Montana it crosses Triple Divide Peak which separates the Hudson Bay, Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean drainages.
Continental Divide Trail
As of 2004, the trail, a combination of dedicated trails and small roads, is considered 70% complete. The uncompleted portions of the trail must be traveled by bushwhacking or roadwalking.
Only about two dozen people a year attempt to hike the entire trail, taking about six months to complete it. As of 2008, no equestrians have managed to ride the entire trail in a single year, although several "long riders" have tried. German long distance rider Günter Wamser (on his way from Fireland to Alaska), and Austrian Sonja Endlweber (who joined him for the rest of the journey from Mexico) managed to complete the tour with 4 BLM-mustangs in 3 summers 2007 - 2009.
The Continental Divide Trail along with the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail form the Triple Crown of long distance hiking in the United States.
Continental Divide Trail logo
This trail can be continued above the Canadian border to Kakwa Lake north of Jasper National Park by the Great Divide Trail, which is so far described only in a few books, and carries no official Canadian status.
The CDT in New Mexico is about 700 miles (1,100 km) long and some portions have very limited water. Local volunteer groups place water caches (usually a pile of plastic gallon jugs) at strategic points along the trail. Three southern termini of the trail exist: Crazy Cook Monument, Antelope Wells and near Columbus, all in New Mexico's boot heel. The terminus near Columbus is not on the Continental Divide (see Animas Mountains) but rather in the vicinity of Columbus, New Mexico, a village that is also the northern terminus of the annual 250-mile (400 km) Cabalgata Binacional Villista.
Out of the estimated 770 miles of the CDT in New Mexico, 194 miles still need to be completed.
Fall colors near Tres Piedras, in the Carson National Forest
Notable points on the CDT in New Mexico include:
- Cumbres Pass
- Carson National Forest
- Santa Fe National Forest
- San Pedro Parks Wilderness
- Cibola National Forest
- El Malpaís National Monument
- Pie Town
- Gila National Forest
CDT in Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado
The CDT passes through many of the highest and wildest mountain regions of Colorado, such as the San Juan Mountains and the Sawatch Range. In most areas the trail is well marked. It is concurrent with the Colorado Trail for approximately 200 miles. The Continental Divide itself in Colorado meanders some 650 miles. There are many stretches of the Continental Divide in Colorado that have no distinct marked or named trail. The Continental Divide TRAIL only covers a portion of the Continental Divide in Colorado. Many stretches of the Continental Divide in Colorado are still a wilderness to even a footpath.
Out of the estimated 800 miles of the CDT in Colorado, 209 miles still need to be completed.
Wind River Range high country
The CDT includes a large section of rangeland in the middle of the state, as well as the Wind River Range and Tetons in the northwest portion of Wyoming. The CDT traverses a large portion of the southern half of Yellowstone National Park. Hikers must decide on a route with regard to the Great Divide Basin at the southern end of the state. The shortest route is through the middle, and water availability is uncertain in most years.
Out of the estimated 550 miles of the CDT in Wyoming, 74 miles still need to be completed.
Montana / Idaho
Montana and Idaho boast a diverse and beautiful landscape of timber-covered mountains, flowing trout streams, open prairies, rocky bluffs and canyon-carved lakes. The CDT extends for 800 miles through Big Sky Country and steps over the border into Idaho for 180 miles.
The mountain goat is the official symbol of Glacier National Park
The CDT travels through some of Montana and Idaho’s most majestic and historic lands: Waterton Lake and Glacier National Park on the Canadian border, the lofty peaks of the Anaconda, Bitterroot and Beaverhead Mountains, Lemhi Pass where Lewis and Clark first set foot on the Divide, Hell Roaring Canyon, Chief Joseph Pass – named for the most famous of Nez Perce chiefs, ghosts of mining past, the untamed Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and the Chinese Wall – a 1,000 foot escarpment.
Montana and Idaho are home to the mountain goat, grizzly bear, gray wolf, bald eagle and osprey, as well as, Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, aspen, lady-slipper, buttercups, beargrass and glacier lilies.
Out of the estimated 980 miles of the CDT in Montana and Idaho, 450 miles still need to be completed.