Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
2,981.00 ft (908.61 m)
Trail type
21.20 mi (34.12 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 42.

Colorado Section 42 begins from Buffalo Pass and immediately enters the Mount Zirkel Wilderness, where it remains for the entirety of this section. The Mount Zirkel Wilderness is a pleasant surprise for Northbound CDT hikers, and is one of the last highlights before leaving Colorado.

The trail through the Zirkels consists of high alpine meadows and rolling, mountainous terrain. The trail climbs in relatively small, easy chunks. At one point the terrain to the right of trail drops away providing a great view.

Continuing onward the terrain becomes a bit more rugged with even better views. Small lakes dot the landscape but are usually a little ways off trail. Stunning mountain vistas stretch for miles in all directions.

You’ll continue climbing through this beautiful terrain until reaching a high point near Lost Ranger Peak. The trail then descends, providing more stunning views. Be sure to keep a lookout for a junction where the CDT makes a 90° turn to the left and leaves the Wyoming Trail.

You’ll then have a big descent. As you drop you begin entering areas with lush vegetation and berries. The trail then leaves the Mount Zirkel Wilderness and comes to a parking area and gravel road. This marks the end of Section 42.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Beautiful high alpine terrain. Mountains and lakes.

Trailhead Elevation

10,299.00 ft (3,139.14 m)

Highest point

11,879.00 ft (3,620.72 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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