Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
2,836.00 ft (864.41 m)
Trail type
13.30 mi (21.40 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, traversing 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 Wyoming portion of the CDT features nearly 550 miles of incredibly diverse terrain. You’ll pass through the open desert plains of the Great Basin, the craggy ice carved peaks of the Wind River Range, and the steaming geysers and volcanic activity of Yellowstone National Park. In this guide we’ll take a closer look at the Knapsack Col Alternate.

The Knapsack Col Alternate Route is an absolutely spectacular option for CDT hikers who are looking to get into the heart of the Wind Rivers. Note that the route does require some off trail hiking and easy scrambling to get up the namesake Knapsack Col.

The alternate begins by descending to Island Lake. This large lake is stunningly beautiful, but is also a popular destination where you’re sure to run into other hikers. The trail skirts around the lake before leaving and climbing ever slightly.

You’ll have an absolutely stunning view form the top of this small climb, then you’ll descend slightly and begin to head toward the Titcomb Lakes Basin. The trail passes Lake 10548 before coming to lower and then upper Titcomb Lakes. There is some camping around this area, but everything is exposed.

Once past Titcomb Lakes follow the faint trail and stream up the valley. The views of the rugged, glaciated peaks nearby are incredible. The trail eventually fades to nothing. You’ll then make the off trail trek to Knapsack Col by heading west past Twins Glacier. As you near the base of Knapsack Col there is a snowfield. Follow the right edge of the snowfield until you need to leave it and scramble up the rocks.

Continue to the obvious top of the pass. You’ll have great views into the valley below. There is a faint user trail down the other side, follow the path and carins (or just choose your own route down). You’ll eventually want to work your way down to the main stream and follow it. A trail then reemerges on the right side of the stream/lakes.

Continue past Peak Lake, then up Cube Rock Pass and to Dale Lake. You’ll then descend a rocky valley before the trail veers left and up to Vista Pass. After the descent you’ll soon come to the junction with the CDT where you’ll be back on track.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Stunning rugged mountain views. Fun off trail hiking. Beautiful lakes

Trailhead Elevation

10,541.00 ft (3,212.90 m)

Highest point

12,247.00 ft (3,732.89 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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