The Continental Divide Trail

Hiking the Continental Divide TrailBackpacking the Continental Divide TrailThe Continental Divide Trail (CDT) begins at the Mexican border in New Mexico and runs 3100 miles through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, part of Idaho, and Montana. It is not well-marked and is still a work in progress. Many thru-hikers start at the Canadian border and hike south; others will begin in the south and head north.

If you attempt to thru-hike this trail, carry a GPS, become good at navigation–map and compass–and go with a partner. I haven’t finished this trail but hiking it alone, most of my thinking time was spent trying to confirm where I was and trying not to get lost.  I did get lost several times and had to backtrack to figure things out.

Study the CDT website: www.cdtrail.org  At the CDT website you can learn about the trail and buy maps. 

Read thru-hiker journals: www.trailjournals.com  An excellent way to prepare is to read the journals of successful CDT thru-hikers. Go to the site above and look at the journals; print one out and study it. Most journalists discuss gear, navigation, how they handled snow, the towns where they resupplied, techniques, etc.

Invest in a bookwww.booksforhikers.com On the left side, scroll down to CDT. The most helpful book for me was Yogi’s CDT Handbook (Planning Guide and Town Guide) by Jackie McDonnell. Request the 2010 edition.

You won’t meet many thru-hikers on this trail. I didn’t meet any, although I didn’t finish. To finish in one season, you need to average about twenty miles a day; there were days I couldn’t do that, mostly because of snow. But it is a great experience to hike this “King of Trails.”

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