Backpacking trip reports, photos, videos, gear reviews, trail maps, GPX files, and more!

CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail Thru Hike 2018

This page serves as a Table of Contents for each section of my 2018 CDT thru hike. My NOBO start date is April 21st from Crazy Cook. 

Continental Divide Trail Pre-Hike Ramblings

Travel to the CDT southern terminus


cdt thru hike 2018 photo between lordsburg and crazy cook

Crazy Cook to Lordsburg – 91 Miles

April 21-25, Trail Days 1-5. Total Trip Miles – 91

This section traverses the “Bootheel” of New Mexico. It’s dry, windy and hot! Like most desert hikes I’ve done, it has a very ancient and primitive feel to it that cannot be duplicated in any other environment. There’s a lot more wildlife here than you’d think. 




cdt thru hike 2018 photo between lordsburg and silver city

Lordsburg to Silver City – 55 Miles

April 26-29, Trail Days 6-9. Total Trip Miles – 146

The first part of this section, out of Lordsburg, was flat and hot. But, This is a good section because the landscape transitions from desert to rolling hills and lots of trees. It’s hard not to like that after 100+ miles of desert. Unique environment and a good sign of progress towards more interesting landscapes. 




cdt thru hike 2018 photo between silver city and doc campbell's post

Silver City to Doc Campbell’s Post – 65 Miles

April 30th – May 3rd, Trail Days 10-13. Total Trip Miles – 212

After leaving Silver City, it’s a road walk up Little Walnut Creek Rd into the hills. This is the beginning of a 300+ mile stretch of no cell phone service for us AT&T customers. This stretch begins the Gila National Forest, a much anticipated section of trail. No more open desert, more trees and hills, and lots more water, towards the end of this stretch. 



cdt thru hike 2018 photo between doc campbell's post and pie town

Doc Campbell’s Post to Pie Town – 145 Miles

May 4th – May 11th, Trail Days 14-21. Total Trip Miles – 357

After visiting the optional Gila Cliff Dwellings, it’s wet feet all day, hundreds of river crossings and remote country through the Middle Fork Gila River. Many deem this to be the highlight of New Mexico and a favorite section of the entire CDT. There are numerous hot springs, namely the Jordan Hot Springs. The Middle Fork Gila River ends at Snow Lake, after which the terrain resembles Wyoming briefly. The trail then wanders through what I called “The Sea of Gold”, a massive view of rolling hills and golden grasses. Then it’s a long and boring walk along Bursum Rd before climbing back up into the hills. A 40 mile road walk through seldom visited region of New Mexico finishes the final leg into Pie Town.  


cdt thru hike 2018 photo between pie town and grants

Pie Town to Grants – 108 Miles

May 12th – May 17th, Trail Days 22-27. Total Trip Miles – 465

The hike out of Pie Town is a very long road walk. Hikers have route options after reaching El Malpais… hike a roughly 55 mile semi-circle route around the lava fields or the Cibola alternate. I Chose the alternate, due to water shortages along the official El Malpais route, as most other hikers did this year. This allows one to hike the Narrows, a trail high up on a mesa overlooking El Malpais. I then hiked the northern section of El Malpais, exploring underground lava tubes and walked the rim of an old caldera volcano. This was the highlight of this section. It’s then a long road walk into Grants through Zuni Canyon.



cdt thru hike 2018 photo between grants and cuba

Grants to Cuba – 125 Miles

May 18th – May 23rd, Trail Days 28-33. Total Trip Miles – 589

This next section includes the highest point on the CDT in New Mexico, which is Mt Taylor at 11,300ft. Having a taste of the high mountains is a bit of a tease, as the trail then heads back down into lowlands and desert scrub. The middle section of this stretch is rather boring. However, the last 2 days into Cuba were incredible. I called it “New Mexico’s monument valley”. Hoodoos, badlands, mesas, spires and all sorts of interesting formations. I also saw my only real rainstorm in New Mexico during this leg.



cdt thru hike 2018 photo between cuba to ghost ranch

Cuba to Ghost Ranch – 61 Miles

May 24th – May 26th, Trail Days 34-36. Total Trip Miles – 650

Here hikers are given their first taste of high alpine meadows and parks in the San Pedro Parks Wilderness. No distant views, but nice scenery. The trail then descends back into the desert one last time. Approaching Ghost Ranch was some of the best desert scenery I experienced in all of New Mexico. Very colorful canyon walls line the Rio Chama, the first serious river along the CDT. Ghost Ranch itself boasts some stunningly beautiful scenery, marking the end of the desert along the CDT in New Mexico. 



cdt thru hike 2018 photo between ghost ranch to chama

Ghost Ranch to Chama – 105 Miles

May 27th – June 3rd, Trail Days 37-44. Total Trip Miles – 755

Only a few miles out of Ghost Ranch, the last of New Mexico’s desert fades away. High mesa, rolling hills, meadows, forest and even lakes. Water is now abundant and no longer an issue. Every mile passed, New Mexico fades and Colorado grows closer. Elevation climbs to around 10k feet and stays there. The state border line, although underwhelming, is a big milestone. 25% complete with the CDT!



cdt thru hike 2018 photo between chama and pagosa springs

Chama to Pagosa Springs – 78 Miles

June 4th – June 8th, Trail Days 45-49 Total Trip Miles – 833

This section has been the most difficult of the hike thusfar. More snow, highest elevation, most climbing, wettest, muddiest and all-around toughest hiking yet. But also, the most beautiful and impressive mountain scenery so far. Welcome to Colorado, snow and high mountains. Climb high, stay high! And that’s exactly what the trail does here. It follows the highest possible route without dropping down into valleys. That’s the spirit of the CDT, and this section is trial by fire. 



cdt thru hike 2018 photo between pagosa springs and lake city

Pagosa Springs to Lake City – 126 Miles

June 9th – June 16th, Trail Days 50-56 Total Trip Miles – 959

Between Pagosa Springs and Lake City, the CDT passes through the San Juan mountains and the Weminuche wilderness, Colorado’s largest. It’s a tough section with rugged mountains, alpine lakes, lots of high trail and beautiful scenery. It’s much longer than the last section, but fortunately the trail was a bit drier and less snow which allowed for slightly easier travel. But still, very challenging!




cdt thru hike 2018 photo between lake city and salida

Lake City to Salida – 109 Miles

June 17th – June 23rd, Trail Days 58-63 Total Trip Miles – 1043

The first section of trail out of Spring Creek Pass was very scenic and similar to the last stretch south of the pass. After San Luis Peak, the trail drops down and the high mountain scenery fades away. Low valleys, dirt roads, forest. Lots of climbing and no views to show for it. After about 70 miles of this, the trail finally climbs high again and hikers are rewarded with distant views once again. This too comes at a cost… dodge the mountain bikers. After about 150 miles of the CDT sharing trail with the Colorado trail, I saw my first, and 100th, bikers. Watch out for these guys, they’ll run you over!



cdt thru hike 2018 photo between salida and twin lakes

Salida to Twin Lakes – 82 Miles

June 24th – June 27th, Trail Days 65-68 Total Trip Miles – 1125

The hike from Salida to Twin Lakes was tough, but a good one. Lots of great views from numerous passes and high ridges. It was very hot and the mosquitoes have really been coming out lately.