Trail specs

Distance Stages Elevation Gain Best period Difficulty
3100 miles

Mid Apr-May (Z-N)
Mid Jun-Jul (N-Z)


Trail description

The official name of the trail is Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, but most people go for the shorter version: the Continental Divide Trail. The trail covers 3,100 miles (5,000 km) between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide of the Americas along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

Every year approximately 200 people try to thru-hike the entire trail, which is five times less than the thru-hike attempts on the Appalachian Trail.

Photo by Steven Bratman

The Mexican stretch of the Continental Divide Trail is about 700 miles (1,100 km) long. There are limited water resources on that part, but numerous local volunteers place water caches along the trail to help thirsty hikers pull through.

According to the Continental Devide Trail Coalition the trail is very promising: “The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is much more than just a line on a map: it is a living museum of the American West, a place to reconnect with nature, and a unifying force bringing people of all walks of life together.”

Photo by John Fawler

Together with the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail forms the Triple Crown of Hiking in the United States. The total length of this Triple Crown is about 7,900 miles (12,700 km), with a vertical gain more than 190 miles (300 km). The first person to complete the Triple Crown of Hiking was Eric Ryback. He was only 16 years old when he accomplished the Appalachian Trail in 1969. One year later he successfully hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. He wrote a book about his adventures on the trail: “The High Adventure of Eric Ryback: Canada to Mexico on Foot”. Another two years later he put the cherry on the cake by walking the Continental Divide Trail. It gave him enough inspiration to write another book: “The Ultimate Journey”.

More information


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