A solid daypack should be a staple of every outdoor enthusiast's gear collection. The CDT is considered one of the “Triple Crown” trails in the US. Best budget-friendly stove: BRS Ultralight. If you injure yourself or find yourself in a dangerous situation, help is just a button press away. We put together this guide to help you get started. Sitting in the shade of a large boulder to be the mid-afternoon Heat in Southern New mexico. If you’re on a tight budget or new to backpacking, check out our Best Budget Tents of the year. The Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) is the 501(c)(3) national non-profit working in partnership with the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management to complete, promote and protect the Always stay aware of your surroundings and, if possible, have a partner with you if you must hitchhike. Wind river part three. Wilderness Self-Service Permits - Some wilderness areas have kiosks where you can obtain a required self-issue permit for free. Most popular maps/navigation tools (we used all of these on our CDT thru-hike): Jonathan Ley Maps (a great free map set with cliff notes produced by a legendary CDT hiker - get a taste of the CDT’s flavor by reading some highlights of these notes here), Bear Creek Survey/CDTC Maps (these two map sets use the same info), Guthook Guides CDT Phone App (tracks progress on map, shows elevation profiles, water sources, etc. Pairing down the essentials into one single bag can be fun and freeing as long as you have the right gear and the right travel backpack to pack it in. You'll be turned on to new videos, trip reports, gear reviews, inspiring outdoor stories and much more. Water bottles. CDT thru-hikers go through an average of 4-5 pairs of trail running shoes. It’s common to feel more tired than usual, have a mild headache, or to feel like you need to breathe deeper to fill your lungs at these heights. This doesn’t include the initial investment in gear which can set you back anywhere from $0-$5,000+ depending on what gear you have and need (more on this below). In the most basic (and totally non-scientific) way to put it, water that falls to the west of the divide, ends up in the Pacific Ocean; and water that falls to the east of the divide ends up in the Atlantic Ocean. We plan to start the trail on the 17th of April. It’s part of the adventure! It travels through a multitude of diverse landscapes, weather, and challenges. More: Check out our Best Backpacking Pillows, Headlamps, Backpacking Hammocks, and Trekking Pole lists for more options. For many of us, it’s been drilled into our heads since day one that backpackers wear boots. Your backcountry meal plan should balance weight, nutritional value, caloric density, and convenience. More: Check out our Best Rain Jackets, Best Rain Pants, Best Down Jackets, and Best Hiking Pants (men’s/women’s) lists for more options. If you notice signs of beaver habitat, you’re probably also in moose-country. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn." The CDT Water Report is a crowd-sourced resource that can be very helpful. It can be a little overwhelming to find the perfect pair of hiking pants. NOBO hikers will generally want to reach the Canadian border by late September before snow starts to blanket the Northern Rockies. SOBOs start later - mid-June to early July - since they’ll have to wait for the snowpack to melt in Glacier National Park and the high mountain passes of Montana. Unfortunately, the sustained high altitude also means Acute Mountain Sickness - commonly known as altitude sickness or AMS - can be an issue. Whether you’re a weekend jogger or a seasoned racer training for your next ultramarathon, a running hydration vest can help you stay happy, healthy, and hydrated on the trail. Trail: Continental Divide Trail Trip Duration: 29 June 2017 - 29 September 2017 (93 days) Trip Length: 2,559.6 miles Money Spent ON TRAIL: Around $4,000 Zero … Tasty food, cold drinks, and the great outdoors - the perfect trifecta! In our experience, friends and family really appreciated being included in the planning process. This was one of my favorite shots from the hike. Make a rough itinerary - Do your best to plan out goals for miles per day, town stops for zeros (rest days where you don’t hike), and resupplies before you go. Hitchhiking - Hitchhiking is part of the adventure for most CDT thru-hikers since many of the towns used for resupply are a very long way from trailheads or highway crossings. One of many arrowheads we found along the CDT. We are pretty excited to see what those states have to offer. Give the gift of adventure! Photo by Simon Morris. Here are a few quick facts about the CDT: Hiking among the vivid colors and towering rock walls of Northern New Mexico, New Mexico, the “Land of Enchantment”, is full of rich Native American, Hispanic, and western culture, The Southern New Mexican desert is arid, but full of intriguing plants (sage,ocotillo, prickly pear, cholla, datura, and piñon pine) and animals (lizards, snakes, cows, coyote, and wild horses), Daytime temps can reach over 100℉, while nighttime temps can be below freezing, Pie Town was settled during the Dust Bowl as a pit stop for travelers to grab a slice of pie. Pros: Can be more social/less solitary, overall temps are generally warmer, NM is a good warm up for harder terrain up north, hiking CO in wildflower season, ending in Glacier NP feels more epic, Cons: Heat in Southern NM, summer thunderstorms in CO (June/July), need to reach Glacier NP before snow begins in fall, can be less solitary/more social, Pros: There’s less rush to finish, aspens turning gold in CO, avoid thunderstorms in CO, more solitary/less social, hiking MT in wildflower season, cooler temps in NMCons: Decreasing daylight every day, trail is difficult right out of the gate (no warm up), cold nighttime temps in CO and NM, need to be through NM before snow begins in fall, can be less social/more solitary, the southern terminus isn’t as epic as the northern one (still exciting though). Some hikers don’t prepare anything ahead of time. The entire Continental Divide Scenic Trail (CDT) is 3,100 miles long, 740 of which reside in the state of Colorado, running through the United States from the Mexico/U.S. Trail name Year established Length authorized (miles) States on route North Country National Scenic Trail 1980 4,600 Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota Continental Divide Just make sure to take care of your mental health, have a solid logistical plan, and stay on your toes out there. We put together this list to showcase some solid budget tents that strike a good balance between cost, weight, weather protection, and durability. Putting your regular life on hold - Leaving “regular life” behind for five or six months is a big commitment and can be a real challenge. Spring and summer are monsoon season in the southern states, and torrential rain, hail, and lightning can happen anytime. It’s all too easy to pick up a nasty intestinal parasite, like Giardia, while thru-hiking the CDT if you’re not on your A-game. More: Check out our Best Backpacking Stoves list for more options. Most PLBs allow friends and family back home to follow your hike on a map in real time which is just plain fun. That said, anyone who does their homework and is determined enough can be successful. - John Muir. If you do scare up a snake, stay calm and back away slowly. That said, the effort it takes to overcome the challenges the Trail presents are rewarded with unending panoramic views, deep solitude, and an opportunity to be immersed in true wildness. Every year, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Continental Divide Trail Society, and US Forest Service work hard to maintain and protect the trail for recreation. We're Dave & Annie, the outdoor adventurers behind CleverHiker. Let us know in the comments below! The CDT is divided into 4 sections. Most people hike northbound (NOBO) on the CDT, but southbounding (SOBO) is gaining popularity. Unlike other long-distance trails, like the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, there are lots of variations and route choices on the Continental Divide. Shopping opportunities are limited or non-existent in some trail towns along the CDT. By the numbers, you’re generally much more safe on a thru-hiking trail than in a big city. The CDT goes through 3 National Parks: Rocky Mountain NP, Yellowstone NP and Glacier NP. More: Check out our Best Backpacking Water Filters and Best Water Bottles lists for more options. It’s a cold trail, and you’ll definitely need a tent or shelter you’re confident using in heavy rain and strong winds. Check out some of our favorite items in our guide to the Best Backpacking Gear for Women. This may seem like overkill, but these tools will all come in handy at various times. The Social Experience: The past few years we have been hiking trails/routes where we would see between 0 and 2 hikers during the entire trip. This is typically emailed 1-3 times per month. For a good portion of the trail, stock tanks are the main watering holes for both backpackers and livestock. Navigating cross-country with a compass in a sparsely-blazed section in New Mexico. We’ve accepted many rides from strangers over multiple thru-hikes and have seen a lot of good in people. For some great tips to make your budget go further, check out our 21 Tips for Backpacking On a Budget post. They have a hard time figuring out how to get around. High altitude - There are long stretches of the CDT that stay above 10,000 feet in Colorado, which means you’ll have epic panoramic views for weeks. We won’t go into full detail here, but Yogi’s Continental Divide Trail Handbook is a popular resource for planning CDT resupply. The Continental Divide (CDT) – Updated Plan », Our 2020, 2019 & 2018 Gear Lists, Hammock & Ground, Don’t Patreon Us, Donate to these guys instead. CleverHiker.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Read more... Then you'll love our biweekly newsletter. Choosing a tent that is comfortable, spacious, and easy to setup can make or break a camping trip. The CDNST and the CDT often share the same track, but this unofficial trail takes advantage of many alternate routes. If a moose chases you, hide behind a tree or other large object. Be aware of your surroundings, scan the trail in front of you, and you’ll be fine. With all the technical data to sift through and seemingly endless choices on the market, it can be a real challenge to figure out what to buy. The right camping mattress can be a real game changer. Rodents - Mice, chipmunks, and squirrels will keep you company along the entire length of the CDT. Decades later, the Pie-O-Neer pie shop keeps the tradition alive, The CDT crosses an expansive lava flow, El Malpais, and shares a path with the old Zuni-Acoma trade route, Mount Taylor is visible from up to 100 miles away, A thunderhead building over The Divide in Colorado, A lot of the CDT in Colorado stays high and follows the peaks and ridges of the physical Continental Divide, where the trail offers constant incredible views of alpine meadows, moraine lakes, seas of mountains, and valleys below, Altitude sickness (AMS) can be problematic for some in this area, NOBOs will have to contend with afternoon thunderstorms and lightning, The Trail passes numerous derelict cabins, historic ghost towns, and mining operations. If we missed anything or you want to share your own CDT experience, leave us a comment below! Moose - Moose can be seen foraging along the trail from Colorado north. Black Lives Matter Questionable water sources - CDT hikers should be equipped with a water treatment method that can handle heavily contaminated water. Southern terminus: Crazy Cook Monument 2. Not only will they keep you dry when the skies open up, but they’ll also cut the wind and hold in valuable body heat to keep you safe and warm in the backcountry. border. To thru-hike is to hike the entire length of a long-distance trail within a 12-month period. More: Check out our Best Hiking Shoes and Boots and Best Hiking Socks lists for more options. The CDT truly is an amazing footpath and it took monumental effort to turn it from a dream into a reality. Heather Eldridge is an accomplished backpacker, having walked over 6,000 miles through the country’s most beautiful wild places. From taking on the whole 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada (or Canada to Mexico), to riding multi-day sections, to exploring the trail on day rides, you’ll experience stunning scenery, diverse ecosystems, welcoming communities, and self-discovery. Picking a start date - In a normal snow year, NOBOs start mid-April through mid-May. Never get in a car if it doesn’t feel right. Say you left something in the woods that you need to go back for, tell the car to go on without you, and walk away - you don’t want to take an unnecessary risk. Not all camping chairs are created equal, so we compared the most popular and top-rated chairs on the market and made this list to help you find the perfect portable chair for your needs. A good pair of hiking pants should be functional and durable. We can walk through the Great Basin in Wyoming earlier in the season when it is still cool, and hopefully water is more available than in the heat of summer. So, considering how essential your down coat is and how often you use it, let me ask you this; when was the last time you washed it? Act Blue - Bail Funds The Continental Divide Trail is approximately 800 miles in length in Montana and Idaho. Posing for a photo with cow horns on a lunch break by a river. SOBOs generally want to be through the San Pedro Parks in New Mexico by November. Trekking poles can add a lot of stability and comfort to your hike. Rattlesnakes - Rattlesnakes are venomous and they’re abundant on certain parts of the CDT. Then snuggle up with one of the Best Sleeping Bags & Quilts of 2020. Solitude can be a beautiful thing. ), Walking with Wired’s tutorial on how to load POIs/waypoints onto a GPS. A backpacking tent will be among the heaviest items you carry on wilderness adventures, so it’s a good place to cut down on weight. Snowshoes: MSR Lightning Ascent (men’s/women’s), The MSR Lightning Ascents are the snowshoes we wish we had for some sections of the CDT, Pillow: ZPacks Medium-Plus Dry Bag Pillow, Sunglasses: Ray Ban Polarized New Wayfarer, Bug Repellant: Permethrin & Picardin Lotion. Thanks guy 👌. Ideally, you’ll have already hiked a long-distance trail with similar challenges, like the Pacific Crest Trail, and you should know how to read a map, use a compass, manage resupplies, and deal with water issues. When we hit the trail, this is what we carry in our packs. The other quarter shares all types of roads with motorized vehicles. border to the Canada/U.S. Thru-hiking the CDT is an adventure of a lifetime, but it’s Extra water capacity: Platypus Platy Water Bottle 70 oz. The Great Divide Trail is Canada’s iconic long-distance backpacking adventure. We can avoid hiking in the San Juan Mountains (notorious for difficult snow conditions for north bounders) until later in the season, when hopefully the snow has melted. The best advice is to stock up wherever you can, never leave a source thirsty, and carry more than you think you need. Storms and big temperature swings - The CDT passes through a diverse gamut of climates from hot, dry deserts to cold, alpine tundra. Down jackets are lightweight, packable, and highly efficient at trapping body heat. A tough climb up to Indian Pass on the Continental Divide provided some pretty spectacular views. It’s the highest, most remote, and, in many ways, most challenging of our National Scenic Trails. New videos, trip reports, gear reviews, inspiring stories and more. For those reasons (along with pure coziness), they’ve become our most beloved pieces of clothing for hiking and everyday wear. Planning ahead helps, but walk-in permits are usually easy to obtain. Each year, a few hundred people attempt to thru-hike the CDT, and not all finish. You’ll be happy you have them when you need them. A tire used as a watering hole for cattle in New Mexico. Check out our post on the Facts and Myths of Bear Encounters for more info. The Continental Divide is a mountain range which creates a division for the ending point of water precipitation. The CleverHiker Gear Guide is a compilation of the very best backpacking Tents, Backpacks, Sleeping Bags, Stoves, Water Filters and a whole lot more. The chances of being bitten by a snake are very slim. Whether you’re springing to action in an emergency situation or just need an easy way to open packaging, you’ll feel confident knowing you’re equipped with a reliable blade whenever you need it. For some ideas of great hiker foods, check out our Best Backpacking Foods Guide, our guide to making your own backpacking meals, and our Best Freeze Dried Backpacking Meals list. Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. Horny toads are friendly enough, though grumpy looking. Length 4.8 miElevation gain 859 ftRoute type Out & back Hiking Nature trips Views Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we only provide completely honest and unbiased recommendations. Lightweight foldable bladders, like Platy Bottles, come in handy for big water carries. You’ll need a permit in all National Parks, including magnificent Yellowstone. We’ll give you the inside scoop in our Best Women’s Hiking Pants Guide. If you’re lucky, you might also get a chance to see mountain goats, moose, and wolves. Big water carries and dry camping - Water availability on the CDT fluctuates drastically based on your start date, snow pack, and the weather. The OR Helium Rain Jacket and Pants (updated for 2020) are among the most affordable options in the ultralight rain…, A Quick Guide to Thru-Hiking the Continental Divide Trail, How to Train for Hiking & Backpacking Trips Guide, 20 Tips for Backpacking in the Desert Guide, Yogi’s Continental Divide Trail Handbook, Enlightened Equipment Revelation Quilt 10°, Backpacking & Hiking Clothing 101: Tips for Creating the Perfect Ultralight Clothing System, guide to making your own backpacking meals, 10 Best Backpacking & Camping Pillows of 2020, 100 Gifts for Backpacking, Hiking & Camping, 8 Iconic Pacific Northwest Backpacking Trips. Learn the basics: Backpacking & Hiking Clothing 101: Tips for Creating the Perfect Ultralight Clothing System, Top trail runner pick: Altra Lone Peak 4.5 (men’s & women’s), Top hiking shoe pick: Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero (men’s & women’s), Top hiking boot pick: Vasque Breeze LT Mid GTX (men’s & women’s), Top hiking sock pick: Darn Tough Micro Crew Light Cushion (men’s & women’s), Top warm sock pick: Darn Tough Hiker Boots Full Cushion (men’s & women’s). Check out this list of our favorite glass water bottles to elevate your water drinking experience.