Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
4,016.00 ft (1,224.08 m)
Trail type
14.80 mi (23.82 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 nearly 3,100 miles across 5 states from Mexico to Canada, exploring a vast array of different environments and landscapes along the way. The CDT can be completed as a single thru-hike that will take 4 to 6 months, or by section-hiking smaller segments. The Colorado portion of the CDT features 800 miles of stunning and challenging high altitude hiking. Highlights include the South San Juans, Collegiate Peaks, 14,270 foot Grays Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. In this guide we’ll take a closer look at Colorado Section 12.

Colorado Section 12 begins at Spring Creek Pass, where the small town of Lake City can be reached via a 17 mile trip to the north on Highway 149. The trail starts with a steep climb up toward Snow Mesa. Snow Mesa is a huge open expanse of tundra with views stretching for miles and miles. This is not the place to find yourself exposed in a storm - weather can move in quickly and there is nowhere to hide at 12,000 feet up on the mesa. As the trail works its way across the undulating terrain you’ll eventually begin to contour around and up to a pass and trail junction.

Continue along the CDT as it gains a bit of elevation, rounding the mountain up to a high point. You’ll then drop slightly in elevation as the trail continues contouring around the highest mountains. A steep descent with a few switchbacks will take you down to Middle Mineral Creek, a beautiful area with some beaver ponds, mountain views and good camping.

Another short (but steep) climb and descent await, then another even bigger climb. You’ll then descend to San Luis Pass and the end of Colorado Section 12.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Unique Snow Mesa. Big mountain views.


Some big climbs.

Trailhead Elevation

10,904.00 ft (3,323.54 m)

Highest point

12,858.00 ft (3,919.12 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.