Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
3,904.00 ft (1,189.94 m)
Trail type
20.60 mi (33.15 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 19.

Colorado Section 19 begins from Monarch Pass along Highway 50. There is a store here gifts and some food. The town of Salida can also be accessed from here.

Begin by crossing the highway and finding the CDT as it gains some elevation and skirts around a hill. You’ll soon leave the single track trail behind and follow dirt roads up as you come to Monarch Mountain Ski Area.

The CDT continues through the ski area with some gradual climbs until you get to the other side and begin heading toward Bald Mountain. You’ll gain elevation as you head toward the prominent mountain, with views getting better and better as you continue. Eventually you’ll skirt around the summit and have fantastic views down to a picturesque small lake backdropped against the rugged peak.

You’ll the descend steeply down toward another small pond, followed by another steep descent to Hunt Lake. Take some time to enjoy this beautiful lake, then descend further to Boss Lake Reservoir. You’ll then have one last descent to the Middle Fork of the South Arkansas River which you’ll cross via footbridge.

The CDT then crosses a gravel road and makes a PUD (Pointless Up and Down). Many hikers choose to just walk the road which avoids the unnecessary elevation change. If you choose to take the trail it will rejoin the road in a bit anyway.

The CDT then veers to the right off the road. The single track trail leads through a boulder field before smoothing out. You’ll continue to gradually ascend through a beautiful valley, heading toward a pass. The trail gets steeper the last 1.5 miles before the pass, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views (be sure to look back to see where you’ve come from).

From the top of the pass you’ll see Upper Hancock Lake and Hancock Lake below. The trail then descends. Once you walk past the lower lake the trail turns left. This is a very new reroute. The old CDT used to follow the gravel road directly down the hill to a trailhead. Now the new trail contours around the mountainside and is a bit more enjoyable hiking. Chose whichever route you feel like to finish Section 19.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Stunning mountain views. Nice lakes.

Trailhead Elevation

11,317.00 ft (3,449.42 m)

Highest point

12,553.00 ft (3,826.15 m)


Near lake or river
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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