Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
4,197.00 ft (1,279.25 m)
Trail type
25.80 mi (41.52 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 43.

Colorado Section 43 begins from a small trailhead and follows the gravel road to the north for a while. You’ll continue walking the road as it slightly ascends, then veer right onto singletrack at the trail junction. It’s then a short climb up to the top of a ridge where you’ll turn left. There are some good views here, but the majority of the ridge is forested.

You’ll then descend to the road. Follow the road as it crosses the Middle Fork Elk River, then take a left at the road junction. Continue along the road until the CDT turns right onto singletrack trail. The trail gently ascends with great views of North Fork Elk Creek to the west.

At one point you’ll come to a gravel road with a bridge that crosses over the creek. This is a great alternate that avoids an extremely overgrown section of trail with blowdown and a river ford.

The road alternate then meets back up with the CDT as it follows an ATV track steeply up a hill. The terrain then turns fairly flat. You’ll cross over Trail Creek, the last proper stream you’ll come across for quite some time.

Continue along the ATV track where another steep climb awaits. The trail then stays atop the ridge with many ups and downs, and very few views. There is one last water source, then nothing until the Wyoming border (another 9 miles).

The ATV track turns into more of a proper 4x4 road. It isn’t until the last mile that the trail finally turns back to singletrack. You’ll then reach the Wyoming border, a significant accomplishment for northbound (or southbound) thru hikers! This marks the end of Colorado Section 43. There is also water and limited camping nearby.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Some enjoyable hiking near the Middle Fork Elk River.


Lots of ATV track/4x4 road walking with steep ups and downs.

Trailhead Elevation

8,457.00 ft (2,577.69 m)

Highest point

10,168.00 ft (3,099.21 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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