The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) is one of the most significant Trail Systems in the world. It stretches 3,100 miles along the spine of the Great Continental Divide from Mexico to Canada and provides access to some of the most wild and scenic places left in the world. Raw, wild, remote and unfinished; it is a trail that will make use of all the skills of an experienced backpacker. It is also a trail that is beautiful, stunning and perhaps the most rewarding of the major long distance hiking trails. Congress designated the CDNST on November 10, 1978. The Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) estimates that as of 2013, 76 % of the trail is in its permanent location.
- Montana/Idaho – 980 estimated miles, 350 miles to be completed
- Wyoming – 550 estimated miles, 80 miles to be completed
- Colorado – 800 estimated miles, 200 miles to be completed
- New Mexico – 775 estimated miles, 125 miles to be completed
Because the CDT is not completed there is:
- A designated route partially in place by the USFS, but most people take alternate routes.
- A mixture of defined trail, cross country travel, dirt and paved road walking.
- A range of total mileage. Estimates range from 2500 miles to 3100 miles. Most people believe the typical route is ~2600-2700 miles with 2800 miles splitting the difference. Yeah, confusing. Either way, it is a long freakin’ walk. 🙂
- Many termini. The northern terminus is in Glacier National Park. Three southern termini: 1) Columbus, NM 2) Antelope Wells, NM or the 3) Crazy Cook Monument, NM.
The Highest point on the CDNST is Grays Peak in Colorado (14,270 feet) and the lowest is along Waterton Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana ( 4,200 feet).
Some segments of the CDNST remain open to motorized use. Many of these segments are where the CDTC seek to relocate the trail. The lead federal agency responsible for completing the CDNST is the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). They work with the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the nonprofit partners to complete, maintain and manage the CDNST.