WhiteBlaze Pages
A Complete Appalachian Trail Guidebook.
$10 for printed copy(paperback). $6 for interactive PDF. $2 for printable PDF.
Read more here WhiteBlaze Pages Store

Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Debating

  1. #1

    Default Debating

    I am debating If I want to do the CDT first or the PCT first. Already completed the AT. Leaning towards the CDT since I will be living in Montana for a few years prior to hiking but I am concerned about a CDT budget (since I will be saving while in grad school). What would you recommend as a CDT thru hike budget.

  2. #2


    The CDT is a harder trail in many ways than the PCT, which is why most people do the PCT first. We didn't. We did the CDT first and learned a lot of lessons the hard way. But we eventually learned about navigation where there is faint or no trail, desert hiking, carrying heavy loads of water and food, river crossings, snow hiking, using an ice axe, long hitches to resupply, etc.

    The CDT is probably more expensive than the PCT because resupply options tend to be farther off trail, which makes going in and out of town more time-consuming, so you are more likely to stay over a night or two. On the northern part of the PCT we often just picked up our maildrop and moved on, without staying the night. That is less likely when it's a 30-40 mile hitch. We were also more tired, so took more time off on the CDT. Then, because tourist season is short in Montana and Wyoming, prices for food and motels are high. In Wyoming the gas boom makes motels ridiculously overpriced in some places, if you can get a room at all. OTOH, there are campgrounds if you want to save money, and a few hostels.

  3. #3


    I followed the sequence AT first(2006 NOBO), PCT second(2008 NOBO ) and CDT third(2010 planned NOBO but three wks before departing work commitments made me replan to go SOBO). I did three thru-hikes(Sierra High Route and Hayduke Trails, and a long Arizona bushwacking hike) in prep for the CDT brushing up on my paper map and compass navigational skills first. GLAD I did it that way. It made me more confident to take on CDT alternate routes, some of which I came up with by myself, some of which were simply ridgeline trail less alternates. This was in 2010 so perhaps the CDT is a wee bit easier now(more signage, more trail built, more CDT hikers, etc) but I agree with Spirit Walker the CDT is still a harder trail, AND DEFINITELY SO OVERALL, than the PCT. With the more than fifteen 300 mile or more thru-hikes I've done the CDT pre hike logistics was by far the most complex with the way I did the CDT opting for many higher elev. alternates and extra trail miles through the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Rocky Mt NPs taking in about 3400 miles total by my best estimate. Also, IMHO, generally the weather is tougher to deal with overall for the CDT compared to the PCT. I think Mags says it well: "the CDT doesn't compare well with the PCT and forget comparing it to the AT." IMHO, too differnt animals. HYOH.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Bellevue, WA


    In general I think it's better to hike the PCT first, but given a Montana bias, consider chunk-hiking the CDT, perhaps in two chunks. Certainly not all, but some of the tough, challenging parts of a CDT thru-hike are doing it AS a thru-hike. If you could knock off, say, Montana and Wyoming one year and then Colorado and New Mexico in a later year, you could avoid a whole honking lot of snow, as well as related fierce "creek" crossings.

    If it's got to be a thru-hike or nothing, then I suggest that you do the PCT first.
    PCT: 2008 NOBO, AT: 2010 NOBO, CDT: 2011 SOBO, PNT: 2014+2016

  5. #5


    +1 with BrianLe's rec. Two trails/routes that I would seriously give the nod to doing in chunks, maybe two long sections hikes, are the CDT and the American Discovery Trail. I like BL's idea of doing say Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming first on the CDT. Doing something like this sets yourself up for the opp to sandwich a PCT thru-hike between two CDT chunks AND ALSO lets you cherry pick the best weather and hiking conditions for the CDT. I find it a shame that CDTers, for whatever reasons they give, bypass sections of well maintained scenic CDT trail like the San Juans of southern Colorado or Rocky Mt. NP or don't explore to a greater extent Yellowstone and Glacier NPs as well as many other scenic places like Malpais Nat Monument, Wind River Range, Grand Tetons NP, etc. Take this from a long distance thru-hiker - consider NOT getting caught up in the mindset that thru-hiking is the only way to hike. Section hiking can be more rewarding in so many ways!

++ New Posts ++

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts