Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,434.00 ft (437.08 m)
Trail type
8.20 mi (13.20 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 20.

Colorado Section 20 is a rather short section of the CDT. It begins from Hancock Trailhead, however a recent reroute of the CDT has made it so that the official route no longer passes by here. Instead, from Hancock Lake (Section 19) the trail skirts around a mountainside before making a few long switchbacks down to the old route and Section 20.

The trail then follows what was once an old railroad track for a few miles. You’ll see evidence of this including the occasional partially visible old wooden rail tie. There are also some informative plaques along the trail here that tell of the railroad and some stores, including how brutal the winters were here and how they plowed the snow and ice from the tracks.

Eventually you’ll turn off the railroad grade to the left. The trail then ascends steeply for a short while until coming out to some lovely terrain. Mountain views stretch for miles in all directions.

The next few miles of hiking are very enjoyable. The stunning views make the few small climbs seem effortless. You’ll soon begin a long descent down toward Tincup Pass Road. This descent features many switchbacks and is easy hiking.

You’ll then cross the North Fork of Chalk Creek via footbridge. There is some good camping just past here. Finally you’ll come to Tincup Pass Road which marks the end of Colorado Section 20.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Follows old railroad track for a while. Stunning mountain views.

Trailhead Elevation

11,058.00 ft (3,370.48 m)

Highest point

12,301.00 ft (3,749.34 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping

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


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