Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
4,207.00 ft (1,282.29 m)
Trail type
Shuttle
Distance
19.70 mi (31.70 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 37.

Colorado Section 37 begins within the boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park at Bowen Gulch where there is a small parking area. You’ll cross the Colorado River, a small meandering stream that looks nothing like it does in Utah or Arizona. You’ll then enter the Never Summer Wilderness.

The CDT follows an old abandoned road as it climbs steadily but gently. A nice stream flows near the trail the entire distance. Eventually you’ll break above treeline and have your first views of the mountains.

The trail steepens until you top out on Bowen Pass. This beautiful pass offers some great views and is the highlight of Section 37.

You’ll then descend from the pass. Be sure to watch for the Ruby Mountain Trail/CDT that makes a sneaky left turn. This trail isn’t well defined in areas. It skirts around Ruby Mountain and passes some meadow areas.

The trail then descends and follows an OHV track. Continue descending then turn right onto a trail. Dirt Bikes are allowed on this stretch and have severely rutted the trail, making it unpleasant hiking in areas. Additionally you’ll soon enter a burn area.

The trail follows Trout Creek through the burn area, then leaves the creek and ascends. You’ll finally reach a junction then descend down a cool ridge to Highway 135 and Willow Creek Pass. This marks the end of Section 37.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Great views from Bowen Pass.

Cons

Follows OHV road then dirt bike trail for a while.

Trailhead Elevation

8,764.00 ft (2,671.27 m)

Highest point

11,435.00 ft (3,485.39 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

Yes

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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