Land Management Agencies
The US Forest Service was designated by Congress as the lead federal agency for overseeing the management of the trail’s 3,100 mile length, but partnerships with other federal land management agencies, conservation non-profit organizations, and local and state governments are key to the trail’s successful management.
The Forest Service works closely with the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service as the three major land managers along the trail. 70% of the trail is situated on Forest Service land, while 12% is on BLM land, 10% in National Parks or Monuments, and the remaining 8% of the trail is on state-owned or private lands.
The Continental Divide Trail crosses through 20 National Forests, 13 BLM Field Offices, and 4 National Parks and Monuments on its way from Mexico to Canada. Together, these agencies and our partners work to protect, maintain, and promote the outstanding scenic values and recreational opportunities that make the CDT a National Scenic Trail.
In 2016, the Continental Divide Trail was identified as one of 15 national priority areas in need of increased trail maintenance by the US Forest Service as part of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act. The goal of this effort is to address the substantial maintenance needs of the CDT, such as trail segments that are closed or in poor condition due to the effects of wildfires, flooding, and tree mortality, by doubling both the number of volunteers working on the CDT and the number of miles of the CDT maintained by volunteers on National Forest System lands by the end of 2020.
“The Congress recognizes the valuable contributions that volunteers and private, nonprofit trail groups have made to the development and maintenance of the Nation's trails. In recognition of these contributions, it is further the purpose of this Act to encourage and assist volunteer citizen involvement in the planning, development, maintenance, and management, where appropriate, of trails.”
-National Trails System Act, 1968
The Continental Divide Trail Coalition and other non-profit conservation organizations provide a powerful voice and community in support of the trail. Aside from advocacy and public outreach work, these groups are also instrumental in completing much-needed trail maintenance and construction every year by organizing volunteer crews for trail work. While the Continental Divide Trail Coalition is the lead national non-profit partner working with federal agencies in support of the CDT, there are dozens of other organizations along the length of the trail that complete vital work to improve the trail each year.
The Continental Divide Trail Coalition, headquartered in Golden, CO, has been active since 2012 and is the major nonprofit partner of the CDT, with a mission to complete, promote, and protect the entire length of the trail.
The Colorado Trail shares 314 miles of tread with the Continental Divide Trail, making the Colorado Trail Foundation a key partner for the CDT in Colorado.
Dozens of Conservation Corps groups and other non-profit partners, as well as hundreds of volunteers every year, are vital to the continued maintenance and construction of the CDT. Learn more about volunteering and partnerships with the US Forest Service.