The Best Day Hikes on the Continental Divide Trail

Wildflowers along the Herman Gulch hike.
Wildflowers along the Herman Gulch hike. Guthrie Alexander
The Continental Divide Trail, which stretches 3,100 miles through five states from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada, is considered one of the toughest thru-hikes in the United States. The trail meanders through some of the most extreme, remote and weather-prone terrain in the Rocky Mountains, and although it rewards hikers with astoundingly beautiful views, it is considered the most difficult of the “Triple Crown” trails (the other two are the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail).

Fortunately, no one is pressuring you (or at least they shouldn’t) to do the entire thing, which involves quite a bit of logistical planning for re-supplies as well as careful timing because of weather.

click to enlarge Some facts about the CDT. - CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL COALITION
Some facts about the CDT.
Continental Divide Trail Coalition
Instead, you can try out a few day hikes along the CDT and get a taste for the experience. Recently, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, a nonprofit based in Golden that supports and promotes the CDT, compiled a list of its favorite CDT day hikes.

Below is the list, along with the group's descriptions and drive times from the nonprofit’s headquarters in Golden to various trailheads.

Parkview Mountain:

click to enlarge A shelter at the top of Parkview Mountain. - MIKE HENRICK
A shelter at the top of Parkview Mountain.
Mike Henrick
- 10 miles round trip, out and back hike
- 2,913 ft. of elevation gain
- AWESOME views!
- Pay attention to your maps and trail signs – old versions of maps will take you up and down a scree slope…don’t do that!

click to enlarge The Parkview Mountain Trail - COURTESY CDTC
The Parkview Mountain Trail
Courtesy CDTC
click to enlarge GOOGLE MAPS
Google Maps
Directions to Trailhead:
Access is from Willow Creek Pass on CO-125.
2 hour, 16 minute drive time from Golden.

Keep reading for more hikes.

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Chris Walker is a freelancer and former staff writer at Westword. Before moving to the Mile High City he spent two years bicycling across Eurasia, during which he wrote feature stories for VICE, NPR, Forbes, and The Atlantic. Read more of Chris's feature work and view his portfolio here.
Contact: Chris Walker