View Full Version : The quick and dirty CDT doc

11-06-2007, 23:56
Sly asked if I'd make a CDT doc similar to my PCT doc. (http://www.pmags.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=21&Itemid=30) After finally catching up on personal and job matters, I finished it.

He also asked if I make it a sticky. I don't have magical moderator powers in this here forum, so I'll let him do it. :D


http://www.pmags.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/cdt-574x268.jpg (http://www.pmags.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/cdt-660x440.jpg)
A Quick and Dirty CDT Guide (http://www.pmags.com/a-quick-and-dirty-cdt-guide)

Posted in: Trip Planning (http://www.pmags.com/topics/trip-planning)- Sep 03, 2010 2 Comments (http://www.pmags.com/a-quick-and-dirty-cdt-guide#comments)

Tagged with: Continental Divide Trail (http://www.pmags.com/tag/continental-divide-trail), lightweight backpacking (http://www.pmags.com/tag/lightweight-backpacking), lightweight gear (http://www.pmags.com/tag/lightweight-gear)

A Continental Divide Trail planning guide. It is similar to my PCT doc. A quick and dirty guide to get you pointed in the right direction for planning a hike of the CDT.

The Continental Divide Trail

The Continental Divide Trail is the last of the “Big Three” trails that most thru-hikers tackle as part of the Triple Crown of long distance hiking. Raw, wild, remote and unfinished; it is a trail that will make use of all the skills of an experienced backpacker. It is also a trail that is beautiful, stunning and perhaps the most rewarding of the major long distance hiking trails.
This handout will help you prepare for the basics of a journey for this trail. It is not meant to be an exhaustive document. As always, you should consult with other resources before heading out on an extended trek in the mountains.

The Continental Divide Trail at a glance

Administered by US Forest Service
The trail is perhaps 70% done
No defined route for many of the places and has many alternate routes
The "trail" is a mixture of defined trail, cross country travel, dirt and paved road walking.
There is a designated route partially in place by the USFS, but most people take alternate routes in places
The CDT mileage estimates range from a low of 2500 miles (using guidebooks and maps that are reported to be off) to a high of 3100 miles (unlikely). Most people believe the typical route is ~2600-2700 miles with 2800 miles splitting the difference. Yeah, confusing. Either way, it is a long freakin’ walk. http://www.pmags.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif
Goes through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico along the spine of the Rockies (more or less)
Starts in Glacier National Park and ends at the Mexican border. Three endings: 1) Columbus, NM 2) Antelope Wells, NM or the 3)Crazy Cook Monument

Appalachian Trail vs. Pacific Crest Trail vs. Continental Divide Trail

Needless to say the AT and the CDT are not alike in anyway. They are both long trails that goes through the mountains… and that is where the similarity ends
A better comparison is between the CDT and the PCT
Both are about the same length, go above treeline and in remote areas
As with the PCT, the CDT is open to horses. Currently parts of the CDT are also mountain bike accessible
The PCT is finished, is well marked and is relatively well used. The CDT is unfinished, is not well marked in many places and is very unused in places
Take most thru-hikers 4-5 months to hike the CDT
Logistics are similar to the PCT; about 5-7 days in between resupplies
A NoBo will start in late April and typically finish in September. Start too early and you hit much snow in the San Juans of Colorado. Finish too late and you hit snow in Montana
A SoBo will start in mid-June and typically finish in November. Start too early and you will see much snow in Montana. Dawdle too much and you may hit snow in the San Juans.

Two Trail Organizations

There are two trail organizations that help plan routes for the CDT. The trail organizations are:
Continental Divide Trail Society http://www.cdtsociety.org/ An organization started by Jim Wolf. The CDTS typically defines a route that is more hiker friendly (more scenic, sometimes off the beaten path, not always horse accessible) and produces a very popular set of guidebooks

Continental Divide Trail Alliance http://www.cdtrail.org/ A more recent organization that works closely with the USFS to define a designated route for the CDT. In recent years they have worked closely with local outdoor groups to build and maintain the CDT (esp. in New Mexico). They have been making efforts to reach out to thru-hikers and solicit feedback as well.

Major Concerns of CDT hikers

Most aspiring thru-hikers of the CDT have a few key concerns. A CDT hiker should have considerable backpacking experience and ideally have done a previous long hike on a Western trail such as the PCT. The CDT is *NOT* a beginners thru-hiking trail. It is assumed that an aspiring thru-hiker should know how to read a map, use a compass, manage resupplies and water issues. Having said that, the major concerns for most thru-hikers seem to be:

1) Navigation

The CDT is an work in progress. It is not a well marked trail like the PCT, never mind the AT! A CDTer MUST know how to use a map and compass.
A great link for learning to use a map and compass is found at: http://www.learn-orienteering.org/old/
Though not needed, a GPS device is found to be useful by many hikers. The GPS helps with what I politely call the *** (Where The BLEEP) factor. A GPS will pinpoint your exact position on the map. Many GPS units also have software that allows to you load in maps. A GPS does have limitations, though and it is not a replacement for map and compass and knowledge of their use.
A nice little guide to GPS operations can be found at http://tinyurl.com/3xmqa

2) Maps

A thru-hike of the CDT needs LOTS of maps. Almost all thru-hikers use the Jonathan Ley maps. These maps show several routes for the CDT and have made hiking the CDT less daunting. A CD with the maps can be procured from http://www.phlumf.com/travels/cdt/cdtmaps.shtml
As great as the Ley maps are, they are limited. They do not give the wide view sometimes need for taking alternate routes (such as when a fire occurs and/or a major snowstorm happens. Both incidents happened to me!)

The popular alternate maps in brief are:

Delorme Gazetteers (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=93) – The Gazetteers give a large overview of the area where the trail goes through. Useful for finding out USFS roads, alternate routes and/or bail out points. You may want to trace/draw in your CDT route based on Ley Maps or other resources

(http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=93) Trails Illustrated Maps (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=93) – For Colorado and Glacier National Park, these maps show the CDT routes in excellent detail. A little expensive (~$10 ea.) and heavy, but they can make navigation easier esp. if you need to take alternate routes from your planned itinerary

Earthwalk Press Wind River Range Maps: (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20?node=93&page=3) Many CDT hikers take the designated route in the valley. The J Ley maps show some great routes. These maps can also help make your own route through this fantastic area.

USFS/BLM maps: Though there is new (and excellent!) tread being built all the time, there is still much dirt road walking in New Mexico in particular. These maps are found to be helpful for certain areas of the trail.

Bear Creek Survey Maps (http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/continental-divide-scenic-trail-mapbook-v3/10641858): Creators of a similar Colorado Trail mapbook, these maps show the designated corridor of the CDTA route. They are excellent maps, but only show a limited corridor and no alternate routes.

3) Guidebooks

There are two popular sets of guidebooks. The Continental Divide Trail Alliance puts out guidebooks (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20?node=93&page=3) that are aimed more the weekend or short distance backpacker. They provide trail access info, colorful pictures and trivia. They are of limited use for the long distance hiker, however.

The Continental Divide Trail Society (http://www.cdtsociety.org/) puts out guidebooks as well. Popularly known as the “Wolf Guides”, the books by Jim Wolf are very descriptive and accurate. Most long distance hikers prefer these guidebooks.


The challenges of re-supply are about as difficult as the PCT. About 5-7 days between re-supply. If you are not overly picky, you can re-supply just about anywhere. The hybrid approach (buy groceries in a large town and ship out to a smaller town) works well, too.

5)Grizzly Bears

In Glacier, the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Yellowstone, grizzlies roam. You are not at top of the food chain! Luckily, grizzly bears will not bother you for the most part . In Glacier and Yellowstone, bear poles are set up for your use. In “The Bob”, you’ll want to use normal precautions for bear country. Because hunting is allowed in “The Bob”, bears tend to be wary of humans.
Some hiker take bear spray as a precaution. Whether you take bear spray or not is an individual decision.


In the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming and New Mexico, water can be scarce. But, again, no worse than parts of the PCT. Use your guidebooks and maps, pay attention, and you’ll be fine.

7)Snow Travel

In a heavy snow year and/or with an early start, an ice axe (and possibly crampons) may be needed in the San Juans if going northbound. If going southbound, an ice axe (and possibly crampons) may be needed for similar reasons if attempting the High Line trail in Glacier National Park. Please note that there are lower, if less scenic, alternatives for the high routes.

http://www.pmags.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_cool.gif Northbound vs. Southbound vs. Flipping

There is no such thing as an easy hike of the CDT! When going NoBo, there may be a lot of snow in the San Juans and winter may come early to Montana. When going SoBo, you may run into too much snow in Glacier and winter can come early to the San Juans. In 2006, three feet of snow was dumped in the San Juans by mid-September. A good two weeks early! As of this writing (November 2007), no major snowstorms have come to the Colorado Rockies.

Every year is different.

Another option is to flip. My fellow Coloradoan Sidewinder chose to flip. He hiked up to Berthoud Pass near Winter Park, flipped up to Glacier and hiked south to finish back at Berthoud Pass. He missed much of the snow the SoBos ran into in Fall 2006. The disadvantage of this method is that you lose the feel of continuous journey.


There is no master permit such as the one for the Pacific Crest Trail. A backpacker needs to have a permit for each of the National Parks and certain wilderness areas.

Permits are required for Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park (if you choose that route), Indian Peaks Wilderness (if you choose that route) and a self signed permit for various wilderness areas.



Continental Divide Trail Society http://www.cdtsociety.org/ An organization started by Jim Wolf. The CDTS typically defines a route that is more hiker friendly (more scenic, sometimes off the beaten path, not always horse accessible) and produces a very popular set of guidebooks

Continental Divide Trail Alliance http://www.cdtrail.org/ A more recent organization that works closely with the USFS to define a designated route for the CDT. In recent years they have worked closely with local outdoor groups to build and maintain the CDT (esp. in New Mexico). They have been making efforts to reach out to thru-hikers and solicit feedback as well.

ALDHA – East www.aldha.org (http://www.aldha.org/) Though primarily for Eastern hiking, there are many people in the organization who have also hiked the CDT

ALDHA – West http://www.aldhawest.org/ This org focuses on Western hiking and hands out the Triple Crowner awards

Discussion Boards/Lists CDT-L http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/cdt-l/ A list-serv for the CDT. Many CDTers are active on this list

Trail Forums www.trailforums.com (http://www.trailforums.com/) This website has some CDT discussion

Whiteblaze.net www.whiteblaze.net (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/../) Though AT focused, the OTHER TRAILS section is getting more and more popular. The CDT forum has a fair amount of use

On-line Resouces

SpiritEagle http://www.spiriteaglehome.com/cdt.html Jim and Ginny Owen have hiked the CDT twice and many other trails. Their site has an excellent overview of the CDT and resources available for this trail. Their THRU-HIKING papers are a must read for any hiker on any trail in my opinion.

Postholer: www.postholer.com (http://www.postholer.com/) A site with journals, forums and a regularly updated snow percentage level along the divide

Guidebooks and Planning Guides

CDTS Guidebooks aka “The Wolf Guides” The preferred guidebooks for most thru-hikers on the CDT. Very accurate and concise info for the Wolf route of the CDT. If you take a different route, be sure to pay attention to your maps!

CDTA Guidebooks (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20?node=93&page=3) Meant more for short weekend or so type adventures. Really not suggested for a long distance hiker. Pretty pictures, though!

Yogi’s CDT Handbook http://pcthandbook.com/ My good friend Yogi has put out a leaner version of her popular PCT handbook for the CDT. Great information, thoroughly researched and meant for the experienced long distance hiker on the CDT. Very useful! (Full disclosure: I contributed to both the PCT and CDT handbooks. I receive no compensation other than satisfaction in helping out a dear friend in addition to fellow hikers).

Books, journals and videos

Of course, planning for the hike can be exciting. But sometimes it is inspiring to read other hikers stories or online journals:


Where the Waters Divide by Karen Berger (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20/detail/0881504033) A good account of thru-hiking the CDT

Westcliffe “coffee table” CDT books (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20?node=93&page=4) Glorious pictures and good writing for each of the states the CDT passes through

Scraping Heaven by Cindy Ross (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20/detail/0071373608) A an account of a family section hiking (and biking) the CDT.

The Backbone of the World by Frank Clifford (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20/detail/0767907027) An excellent account of the land, the culture and the politics of where the CDT passes

The Journals of Lewis and Clark (http://astore.amazon.com/pmagcom-20/detail/0395859964) Vivid account of what it was like to travel along and on the divide without guidebooks, lightweight gear or a microbrew in sight. Call it deep background reading….


www.trailjournals.com (http://www.trailjournals.com/)
Links to many on-line journals for the CDT. If you are curious about what a flip-flop hike of the CDT may be like, read Sidewinders CDT 2006 journal.

www.d-low.com (http://www.d-low.com/)
The man who coined the phrase “EMBRACE THE BRUTALITY" for the CDT.

www.phlumf.com (http://www.phlumf.com/)
One of my favorite CDT journals

www.pmags.com (http://www.pmags.com//)
I have my journal online along with many photos


The Walkumentary http://www.thewalkumentary.com/ A video done by my buddy Disco. A funny, heartfelt and true-to-life account of hiking SoBo on the CDT in 2006. The fact I’m in this video does not in any way make me give it a glowing review. http://www.pmags.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_wink.gif

Walking the Great Divide http://www.flaglerfilms.com/ Mark Flagler came out with a professional grade documentary about the CDT. It is not only about the thru-hiking community, but also about the trail and the land around the CDT. Mark has previously come out with Appalachian


Scarlet and Wildflower's 2007 CDT Adventure http://www.scarletandwildflower.com/ (http://www.scarletandwildflower.com/)A well regarded documentary from Jessica "Wildflower" Winters about a CDT thru-hike.

How to Hike the CDT by Lynn Wheldon www.lwgear.com (http://www.lwgear.com/) A very thorough (7 hrs!) video on how to hike the CDT. A little dry at times, but informative

Cookie and Paul's CDT Documentary: http://www.made-in-england.org/videos/cdt/ Two Brits take a (very funny) long walk! The journal is also well worth the good read. Beautiful scenery, steak, booze, and fun. What's not to like?

Best of luck on your CDT journey! All thru-hikes demand an odd mixture of flexibility and stubbornness..more so on the CDT!

As my buddy d-low (CDT2005) likes to say about the CDT: “EMBRACE THE BRUTALITY!!!!” Embrace the challenges. Embrace the beauty. Embrace the wildness. Embrace all that is so great about the CDT!

If you have any additional questions about this document or the CDT in general, please feel free to e-mail me: [email protected]


11-07-2007, 00:05
That's just awesome Mags. Thanks!

11-07-2007, 00:21
Thanks Mags. Really informative.

11-07-2007, 00:40

Thanks for all your hard work on this, very informative. Lookin' forward to the CDT in a couple years! Maybe i'll see ya some day in Boulder when I visit Easy and Lizard

11-07-2007, 00:55
Nice job.

11-07-2007, 01:39
Nice job, Mags. But... Embrace the Brutality? I envy you the experience of those beautiful western trails

:: deep, wistful sigh ::

11-07-2007, 02:29
THanks for the kind words all!

A-TRAIN: You would not be the first hiker trash to crash at Casa Mags. Sly knows my futon (and coffee pot) well. :)

Terrapin: Embrace the brutality is something d-low told me via e-mail. We cc'd Yogi on it. It spread like wildfire. It is now THE catchphrase for the CDT. If you hike this trail, you know what it means in your gut.


When you open up Yogi's CDT guide, you see EMBRACE THE BRUTALITY in large,blue and bold print on the first pages!

And yes..it is wonderful trail! :) EMBRACE IT ALL!!!

01-02-2008, 21:07
I'm not one to say thanks but its kewl that you put the time behind it. The thrill of this trail is infact that its hard. Requiring the skills to navigate, read maps and determine on your own what route to take. I am wrong? That is the sure reason why soo many don't attempt this trail because it isn't easy. The info you provided is very informative but its not a AT hiking guide none the least. Folks thinking of hiking this trail must understand that its not easy and no one is going to be holding there hands or crowds to follow.
I'm not trying to be negative here, Mr. Mags but your experience is completely different than mine and I'm only basing that on my experience. No hurt feelings. It would be nice that someone did come up with a guide book that didn't use living things as land marks. Or use there own route as the offical. When all along using forestry maps would suit you just fine from start to finish.

But folks thinking of hiking this amazing, challenging trail have alot of work ahead of em. Even with the "guide books" that are out on the market.

I'm so not trying to come as jerk here but I'm just stating from what happened for me. I wish everyone who attempts this trail the best of luck and stay focused on the hardships to come.> Mother nature can be a bitch at times.


01-02-2008, 21:13
Your not one to say thanks? Geez, what a model you must have been for the rest of us out there.

01-03-2008, 03:12
Well Mr. 8000 Meter Peak Climber, I am not quite sure what you mean. My doc is a jumping off point for planning, not a guidebook by any means..much less any AT hiking guide. Sheesh.

Basically, your post is a bit...off.

To quote:

This handout will help you prepare for the basics of a journey for this trail. It is not meant to be an exhaustive document. As always, you should consult with other resources before heading out on an extended trek in the mountains.

So my feelings aren't hurt. If anything, I am amused by your post. :D

01-03-2008, 03:44
LOL... Got a fan there huh Mags!

03-11-2009, 18:19
Hey, thanks for putting this together. I have dreams of a triple crown (possibly pipe dreams, we'll see). I hope this post is still here when I'm in my forties!

03-11-2009, 18:46
I don't care what the nay-sayers may say Mags---Your the Man! Great run down and expectations explained in very plain english.

03-11-2009, 21:54
That is the sure reason why soo many don't attempt this trail because it isn't easy.


And which one is???

Hey, I don't want to hijack Mag's thread but how many 8,000 meter peaks have you climbed?

03-11-2009, 23:04
Well, Mr. 8000 Meter climber was silent. :) An empty can makes the most noise...

Anyway, the update is posted at:

03-18-2010, 22:40
Funny stuff, guys. And Mags, thanks for the info, bro. I start from Crazy Cook in about a week.

05-17-2010, 22:35
Updated link:

(The links pages are making their back to being updated. :D)


11-02-2010, 11:27



11-02-2010, 12:15
I just finished the CDT this year and I find your post to be "spot on" Mags!
Despite what 8K wrote I think your positive attitude, one which I share, made the difference on the remote CDT. While it is true nobody is there to "hold your hand" that does not mean you are totally alone. I did not see another thru-CDT hiker between Pie Town NM and Mac's Inn Idaho but I met a lot of great non-hiker folks who became just as excited about the hike as I was after getting to know each other.
Anyhow "Embrace the Brutality" is so appropriate. I told that to myself everytime I was "trapped" by lightning in Montana or covered in ticks in Wyoming's Basin divide. No matter how hard the enviroment gets there will always be a brighter side.. eventually. A sense of humor was critical for me as well and thats what I like about your writings. You have to laugh at yourself and even the world sometimes. It just feels right to do so!

IMHO formed from hiking the CDT this year: Mag's advice is right on! Also I found Yogi's guide and particularly the Town Guide to be super helpful on my hike. Don't be afraid to hike the CDT! Prepare of course, but never be afraid! It's not the surface of the Moon. This is just another place on your planet.. the same planet as the AT and PCT trail are on. You and only you will know soon enough if the added elements of remoteness, wildness, and rugged beauty are something you enjoy.
Just keep up the "stoke" and enjoy your hike!
P.S. Mag's, I hope you post that "Hike My Hike Dammit!" thread somewhere again. I love the story "Look at the Shelter you can build with the proper knife".. Anyhow that one always makes me laugh! :D

11-02-2010, 14:14
Thanks for the kind words... :)

HMHDI is here.. .:D


11-02-2010, 15:33
Thanks for the info. Good stuff

11-02-2010, 17:29
Well, I am one to say thanks. And to you, MAGS, I publicly say MANY THANKS, for all that you have invested in making my CDT trek(and CT trek, gotta finish it up next yr though) that much more informed.

As Ice Axe said I have found your CDT(and CT) planning guides/info "spot on!" IceAxe and Mags I do appreciate the lighthearted positive informative comments from each of you, as well as from other posters. PLEASE keep them coming!

Virtually 100 % of what I've been hearing lately from IceAxe I would have to wholeheartedly agree with concerning the CDT.

I agree with 8KPeaks comment that the those preparing for a CDT thru have their work cut out for them, both on and off the CDT. Despite having the experience of preparing for 7 previous long distance thru-hikes under my belt I think I spent the most amount of time preparing for the CDT, although, some of that prep time was due to maildrops I wanted to employ. My previous preparations for thru-hikes made the CDT easier to plan for though. I helped me to never feel overwhelmed. Just the selection of CDT maps I wanted/felt I needed to have were initially daunting to accumulate. It is certainly more remote overall than either of the other two Triple Crown trails. The longest I went without seeing another human being was 5 days and I don't recall how many wks went by never seeing another CDTer.

The CDT through CO can be strenuous at any time of the yr, but if you actually wish to hike much of the "official" CDT through CO, and also take in some higher elev more scenic usually longer mile Ley alternates, and/or hit some 14 ers, as I did, in some snow, be ready for some challenging hiking!

If going SOBO, starting in Glacier/Waterton NP, around the typical mid/late June CDT start times, hit the trail in shape and be prepared to get mentally, emotionally, and physically engaged on Day 1!, as opposed to going NOBO, where, IMO, you can more easily hike yourself into shape and be less engaged initially. On Day 1 in Glacier NP starting out from the Belly River TH at the Canadian border I had to avoid a grizzly bear with her two cubs, a moose with her calf, and navigate over several feet of snow(no trail to follow). You usually can't turn your mind off on the CDT! You have to be engaged!

Jonathan Ley's maps were a Godsend, especially with the helpful notes. Yogi's CDT Planning Guidebook, like her other two Triple Crown Guidebooks, was well done. If planning a CDT thru I would say get both. I also thought Wolf's books, which are compact and divided up into sections to make them lighter were especially helpful in some MT and NM areas. I also got a lot of useful or contemplative info from Spiriteagles's CDT trail journal(s). SE's resupply/town info helped fill in some additional details that I wanted to know that might have been left out by Yogi.

12-06-2010, 02:27
I just finished the CDT two weeks ago and agree with Iceaxe and Dogwood on how great Mags’ write-up sums it up. I just wish I had read it before I left!
I just wanted to add to the section on bears a bit: Most rangers, biologists, and locals think the grizz can be found anywhere on the CDT north of the Great Divide Basin. The largest concentrations are definitely found in Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Bob (where rangers helicopter in problem bears from Glacier…), but I saw one outside of those areas and many thru-hikers have seen them outside those areas, too. While hiking through Glacier, I had dinner with the dad of a good friend who just happens to be the Bear Ranger for the park. In 30 years of hiking summer after summer in the park, often with young children, he says making noise while hiking is the most important thing you can do to avoid a bad encounter. When I hiked, I called out constantly and also carried a harmonica which may not be exactly LNT, but if rangers are advocating it, it’s got to be good. Also, within the last few years, grizz have been protected by federal and state laws so can’t be hunted anywhere, including the Bob. IMHO, this is a good thing, but it is relevant to thruhikers because it may affect how the bears react to humans.
Iceaxe and Dogwood are totally right about keeping the positive attitude. Thru-hikes are all about remembering that being lost, lightening, snow, and ticks don’t last forever (well, lyme disease arguably might, but you get my point). Iceaxe was right about not letting fear stop you from doing a thru-hike, and I really appreciate Mags’ document because it lays right out for you all the things that you think you should be scared of, and most importantly, why you really don’t need to let that stop you from thru-hiking the CDT. I really applaud Mags and hope more people find this.

02-03-2012, 15:20
BUMP updated for Feb 2012:

10-17-2012, 00:07
BUMP - Updated Oct 2012

Updated to reflect new map options, other trail orgs and the CDTC.

01-10-2013, 13:55
Next thru hike, the question is PCT or CDT?

01-10-2013, 15:10
Next thru hike, the question is PCT or CDT?

Depends what you want.

My buddy Disco LOVES the PCT: Well marked trail, good balance of solitude and social, good grade mainly. Probably the most friendly over-all thru-hiker trail in terms of the experience.

CDT? I loved the challenges, making your own route if you so wish and the less-then-polished and raw nature of the trail (Not quite as raw, though).

So, it depends on what YOU want.


01-11-2013, 00:28
I suggest the PCT before the CDT, especially if you think you might want to hike both of them anyway. The PCT serves as a much better training ground to the CDT than does the AT. And in general I agree with Disco's comments via Mags, I think it's the best of the three. Overall for me it's the best mix of great and varied scenery and climates while at the same time not as stressful, possibly a bit less risky (was for me anyway), and just in general kicks you in the a$$ less than does the CDT.

12-17-2013, 14:09
Updated my Q&D doc for the CDT:


Section (Chunk) hiking info
Revised comments on the concept of purity on the CDT
More planning material avail

The trail is maturing. Hence more resources that make it easier to hike CDT in terms of logistics and planning. And the trail is defined enough now where a "purity" discussion can actually be had vs even five years ago, too.