Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
3,862.00 ft (1,177.14 m)
Trail type
26.10 mi (42.00 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 22.

Colorado Section 22 begins from Cottonwood Pass. Hikers can hitch east into Buena Vista if in need of resupply from Cottonwood Pass Road. Otherwise, cross the road and begin to leave the high mountains behind.

The trail follows above South Texas Creek for a while, and descends steeply in areas until reaching Texas Creek. All along this stretch is prime moose habitat, so keep an eye open!

The following mile or two are relatively flat and enjoyable hiking along Texas Creek. The trail then veers right and climbs steeply away from the creek through some aspen forest. As you continue through the forested terrain don’t be surprised if you see dirt bikers as they are allowed on this stretch of trail.

After ascending through the forest the trail begins to break above treeline and then switchbacks its way up to Lake Ann Pass. The view from the top of the pass is stunning!

You’ll then descend down the north side of the pass, which may be tricky thanks to a cornice that lingers during early summer. Depending on what month you are here, an ice axe and microspikes may be necessary. Once past the cornice, the trail is quite rocky until off the pass.

Be sure to take the short side trail to your right and visit Lake Ann, a lovely place. The trail then continues to descend through dense forest. You’ll hike near the South Fork of Clear Creek for most of the descent until things mellow out.

The trail then leaves the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area and offers mellow, enjoyable hiking as it skirts around the mountains. Section 22 then ends near Sheep Gulch Trailhead.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Great views near Lake Ann and the Apostles Mountains.


Early season cornice on Lake Ann Pass. Dirt bikes allowed on one stretch of the trail.

Trailhead Elevation

12,115.00 ft (3,692.65 m)

Highest point

12,595.00 ft (3,838.96 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping

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


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