Ways to Enjoy the Trail
From day trips to multi-day excursions, on foot, wheels, or hoof, there are many ways to experience the Continental Divide Trail. Hundreds of thousands of people have had adventures on the CDT, perhaps without even knowing it exists: visitors to Yellowstone’s Old Faithful geyser, hikers in Glacier National Park, and even downhill skiers at many ski resorts on Colorado’s Continental Divide.
How you can spend time on the CDT:
- Mountain bike
- Cross-country ski
- Downhill ski
- Hunt and fish
The CDT is primarily managed to provide for hiking and horseback riding opportunities, but many sections of the trail are also open to mountain biking and motorized use. While National Scenic Trails are typically managed as non-motorized, mountain biking and motorized uses were allowed to continue on segments of trail that had been open to these activities prior to becoming designated as part of the Continental Divide Trail.
Some activities may be restricted to certain areas, seasons, or require permits or licenses; be sure to check with the local land manager for rules and regulations while planning your trip.
For any trip on the CDT, it is important to be prepared. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Water - Some sections of the CDT, particularly in New Mexico and Wyoming, have scarce water supply points. Be aware of where these are located and know that supply can vary seasonally. Always carry a method of water filtration or purification if you are relying on natural water sources.
Navigation - Carry a map of the area, and remember that mobile phone coverage is not reliable in the backcountry.
Equipment - Pack accordingly for your trip. Trail mix and a full water bottle may be enough for a short hike, but you may need more gear such as a shelter and cooking equipment for a longer journey. Basic first aid supplies and appropriate footwear are always recommended.
Weather Conditions - Be aware of and prepared for the climate and weather conditions you may encounter. The CDT passes through diverse climates and elevations, so conditions will vary dramatically depending on your location and the season.
Permits - There is no permit or fee for hiking the Continental Divide Trail, but individual permits are required for backcountry camping in certain areas: Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Blackfeet Reservation, and the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Know Before You Go - Read more tips from the US Forest Service about enjoying the outdoors safely.
Visit the Continental Divide Trail Coalition’s website for more trip planning resources, including a downloadable planning guide, up-to-date trail maps, and a crowd-sourced water report.
Leave No Trace
Responsible trail users follow a shared ethic of outdoor recreation called Leave No Trace, which encourages enjoyment of our outdoor spaces while leaving minimal impact. This not only helps to maintain healthy ecosystems for plants and animals to thrive, but also ensures that our natural spaces remain beautiful for future human visitors.
Leave No Trace Principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
For more information, visit www.lnt.org.