The Continental Divide Trail – What You Need To Know

The Continental Divide Trail

When it comes to the United States’ ultimate trail, you don’t have to look any farther than the Continental Divide Trail. Most hikers looking for a challenge will want to take on one of the longer trails. However, you will need to have some level of experience. Now, you might ask yourself, “What is the Continental Divide Trail?”

The Continental Divide Trail is one of the longest trails in the United States. It crosses many different states, and the distance is longer than 3,000-miles. However, there are plenty of things to see, and you will learn a lot of things about each state while meeting plenty of new people.

In the following article, we look at some of the top features of the Continental Divide Trail. We have researched some of the most common questions, and you will learn everything you need to know. You should determine for yourself if you want to take on this mammoth of a trail.

What Is The Continental Divide Trail?

The Continental Divide Trail is one of the longest trails in the United States. It follows the continental divide through the US. You will traverse through the US along the Rocky Mountains, and it goes through 5 different US states. These states include New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana near the Canadian border.

It is a combination of smaller trails that have been put together, and only around 70% of the route is complete. The routes dedicated as incomplete need to be followed on foot, and you will need to traverse dirt roads or specific pavements. Keep in mind that the trail can be continued once you reach the Canadian border into Alberta and British Columbia.

There are many things to see when you are traveling on the trail. However, some of the experienced hikers have described the trail as the ultimate test for a hiker. You will need to be in peak physical condition and have enough motivation. We should mention that the trail is not fully complete, and certain areas are rerouted.

How Long Is The Continental Divide Trail?

According to measurements, the overall length of the trail is around 3,028-miles in total length. However, the trail is not complete, and as we have mentioned, many areas are rerouted, and you might need to take different routes. When the conditions are perfect, you will hike between 2,700 and 3,150-miles in total.

However, the alternate routes might be slightly longer in certain situations. When the weather is bad for an extended time in any specific location, you can add even more distance. You might need to change the route significantly and go around certain areas before returning to the route needed to complete the trail.

How Long Does It Take To Hike The Continental Divide Trail?

When it comes to calculating the time it will take you to complete the hike. It will come down to the type of hiker you are. If you are a pure hiker, you might take a slightly shorter time to complete the overall distance. Thru-hikers are the common measurement, and these are an average of hikers split between beginners and experts.

When it comes to hiking continuously, you will find that it can take up to 5 months for someone to complete the route. Keep in mind that you might run out of food and water, which means that some hikers often become hitchhikers to different towns. While this might not seem like a pure hiker, it is only to replenish foods and water.

Keep in mind that fires and other natural issues could hold you back for a while. As mentioned, many people might take alternative routes when they make the trail. When you enter New Mexico, only a small section of the trail is completed. Those hiking from the South, they will get past these obstructions in the first couple of weeks.

Where Does The Continental Divide Trail Start And End?

You can start the trail from either side, but many people believe that the correct way to make the trail is from South to North. This means that you will start the Mexican border trail and go up to the Canadian border. Once you reach the Canadian border, you can choose a different option of continuing.

However, many people choose to start in the North, which might make it slightly different in terms of preparation and temperatures. However, you will need to decide for yourself when doing one of these long trails. The Crazy Cook Monument in Mexico is commonly seen as the main starting point for the trail, while Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada is seen as the ending spot.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Hike The Continental Divide Trail?

Nobody wants to be in the cold when they are hiking. For most people, the Continental Divide Trails make the most sense to do in the summer and spring months. People who have completed the trail will tell you that the best time to start is in April. Starting the trail in April means you are starting in the middle of the spring months.

It should take you until September to complete the trail, which means you don’t have any hiccups. Generally, there might be fires and other natural disasters that could push your date of arrival back by a few weeks. Many people believe that you should be halfway through the trail by June to avoid the colder temperatures of the North.

The Continental Divide Trail Summary

There are tons of different ways to complete the Continental Divide Trail. However, it is not one of the easiest trails, and if you are not in shape, it is better that you avoid it completely. Let us know in the comment section if you have done one of these trails.

Need Help Preparing for a Hike or Backpacking Trip?

Check out our Hiking Equipment Guide for Beginners.  It’s a complete list of gear that every beginner should have!


Continental Divide Trail

Lee G.

I love the outdoors! Everything from hiking, climbing, rappelling, and caving.

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