Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
870.00 ft (265.18 m)
Trail type
7.10 mi (11.43 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail spans some 3,100 miles across 5 states from Mexico to Canada. The trail travels through the Rocky Mountains, exploring a vast array of different environments and landscapes along the way. The New Mexico portion of the trail features 820 miles of diverse hiking from the desolate Chihuahuan Desert in the south, to the unique Canyons of the Gila River, to the Rocky Mountains in the north. Exploring the Continental Divide Trail can be done as a single thru hike that will take 4-6 months, or by section hiking smaller segments. In this guide we’ll look at the Walnut Creek Alternate Route.

The 7 mile Walnut Creek Alternate is a popular route that many CDT hikers choose to take out of Silver City, rather than hiking the longer official CDT route.

You’ll veer off of Highway 180 onto Little Walnut Road, which you’ll follow for the remainder of the alternate. You’ll walk past an elementary school, then the road turns into a mellow two lane road. There’s a bit of shoulder in areas, so you won’t have to walk directly on the pavement all the time.

Continue along the road until you arrive at the Gomez Peak Trailhead and Picnic Area. Here there is a large area with picnic tables that is shaded. Also a water spigot.

Instead of getting back on the road, I’d recommend using some of the trails here to connect back to the CDT. Follow the Picnic Loop Trail to the west until it connects with the Divide Access Trail which will lead right back to the official CDT. Take a right and you’ll be back on track.

The Walnut Creek Alternate officially ends at the junction of the CDT and North Fork Walnut Creek Road. Those choosing to take the Gila River Alternate next will continue to follow the North Fork Walnut Creek Road from this point.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Shorter and more direct than the official CDT.


Mostly paved road walking.

Trailhead Elevation

5,968.00 ft (1,819.05 m)

Highest point

6,732.00 ft (2,051.91 m)


Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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