Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,539.00 ft (469.09 m)
Trail type
11.10 mi (17.86 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 18.

Colorado Section 18 begins from Marshall Pass Trailhead. This is a popular area, especially if here on a weekend. You’ll likely notice a few dirt bikers, be warned that they are allowed on this section of trail. There is also a nice little cabin located near the trailhead that is open for hikers or anyone to use. It makes a great place to wait out a storm, or even spend a night.

Once on trail you’ll follow a gravel/dirt road as it ascends. Before long it’ll turn to nice single track trail as you continue to climb gently. You’ll pass a trail junction then begin to come out of the forest to some amazing sweeping views.

The trail stays above tree line for a bit, then descends. You’ll pass an excellent piped spring water source, then come to a small trail shelter. This 3 sided shelter is not much to look at, but it would be a nice reprieve in a storm.

You’ll then climb once more to up above treeline where you’ll follow the Monarch Crest Trail as it travels near the ridge top of the mountains offering incredible views. You’ll notice a junction where the Colorado Trail veers off to the right for the Collegiate East route. Stay on the CDT and the Collegiate West route.

As you near Monarch Pass the trail will begin to descend toward treeline again, and then eventually turn into gravel road. Section 18 then ends at the pass. There is a store here with gifts and some food. The town of Salida can also be reached via the highway.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Fun hiking and fantastic views along the Monarch Crest.


Dirt bikes are allowed on this stretch of trail.

Trailhead Elevation

10,878.00 ft (3,315.61 m)

Highest point

11,970.00 ft (3,648.46 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Grand Mesa Uncompahgre + Gunnison National Forests


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