I can’t believe I’m getting ready to start a section-hike of the CDT, or Continental Divide Trail. It’s one of the Triple Crown trails within the 11 National Scenic Trails, along with the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s also famous for being rugged, remote and, until recently, unsigned in many spots.

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I’m also learning that in southern New Mexico, where I’ll be starting, there are several official alternative routes, generally to provide more water access or better views. There are also even more unofficial routes. Navigating all of these successfully can mean obtaining different maps and apps, as some showcase certain routes better than others.

CDT, Here I Come!

Why have I selected the CDT as my next National Scenic Trail to tackle? Good question. To date, I’ve thru-hiked six of the smaller trails: the Arizona Trail, Florida Trail, Ice Age Trail, New England Trail, Natchez Trace and Potomac Heritage Trail. I’m also nearly halfway through a section-hike of the North Country Trail. I’m not thru-hiking the latter, as it’s too long at nearly 5,000 miles (8,047 km). That leaves the Appalachian Trail (2,200 mi / 3,540.6 km), Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 mi / 4,264.8 km), Continental Divide (3,100 mi / 4,989 km) and Pacific Northwest Trail (1,200 mi / 1,931.2 km).

While I may end up thru-hiking the PNT one day, as it’s the same length as the IAT and FT, it’s currently in the midst of being signed. That’s right, it currently isn’t marked almost at all. Well, I’m not hiking an unmarked trail solo! That leaves me with the Triple Crown trails. The AT and PCT are much more popular, and crowded, than the CDT, so I decided to opt for that one first.

I know, the AT and PCT will likely just continue to get even more crowded. But the CDT seems like a good choice. And I think I’ll leave the AT until last, as many people start with that one. Poetic justice for the other trails, if you will.

Wish Me Luck

While I’m not afraid to hike solo, I’ll admit I’m a little nervous about the CDT. It has the same scorpion and snake issues as the AZT, plus tarantulas are crawling around its southern reaches. It also ventures into grizzly bear territory, in the  north, something I have yet to experience. But better to tackle this now, while I’m young(ish) rather than when I’m older! Wish me luck.


Some items I’ve obtained specifically for the CDT: Saber Frontiersman bear spray and a 70-liter Gregory backpack.

©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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