About the Continental Divide Trail

CDT 319x319The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) is a 5.000 km long-distance hiking trail from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide. The Continental Divide is the hydrological divide that separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean in the West from the watersheds that drain into the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico in the East. The CDT runs from the southern terminus at the Crazy Cook Monument on the U.S./Mexican border in New Mexico to the northern terminus on the U.S./Canadian border in Glacier National Park, Montana. The trail passes through 5 states, 25 National Forests, 21 Wilderness Areas, 3 National Parks and 1 National Monument, including Gila National Forest in New Mexico, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Idaho, and Glacier National Park in Montana.

Map of the Continental Divide TrailThe CDT was designated a National Scenic Trail by Congress in 1978. However, at the time of this writing the trail is still not fully completed, and alternate routes exist on sections of the trail. The hiking ranges from high alpine trails to bushwhacking, desert navigation and even some road-walking. The “official” length of the CDT is 5.000 km (3.100 miles).

Together with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Appalachian Trail (AT) the CDT makes up what is known as the Triple Crown of Hiking, the three longest National Scenic Trails in the U.S. The CDT is by far the least travelled of the three. There is no one thru-hiking permit available and nobody knows the exact number, but it’s estimated that less than 200 people attempt a thru-hike each year, compared to 700-800 on the PCT and even more on the AT. The CDT is considered to be more of a logistical challenge than the other trails, due to it’s remoteness, but it’s also considered to be the most rewarding in terms of scenery and wildlife. The hiking season has a window of opportunity usually stretching from mid-April through September, about a month shorter than for the PCT, mainly due to the early onset of winter in Montana.

Some facts

  • Length: 5.000 km (3.100 miles)
  • Location: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana
  • Southern terminus: Crazy Cook Monument, New Mexico
  • Northern terminus: Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Highest point: 4.350 m (14.270 ft), Grays Peak, Colorado
  • Lowest point: 1.200 m (3.900 ft), Columbus, New Mexico
  • Hiking season: April through September
  • Unofficial slogan: Embrace the brutality

In early May I will be starting my own thru-hike of the wild and scenic trail that is the Continental Divide Trail. Embrace the brutality!

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