Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
2,628.00 ft (801.01 m)
Trail type
37.10 mi (59.71 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 Montana-Idaho portion of the CDT features nearly 1,000 miles of diverse mountain terrain. You’ll pass alongside the lofty peaks of the Anaconda, Bitterroot and Beaverhead Mountains; walk through the rugged and remote Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex; and finally arrive at the “Crown of the Continent” that is Glacier National Park. In this guide we’ll take a closer look at Montana-Idaho Section 1.

Montana-Idaho Section 1 begins at the Wyoming/Idaho border in Yellowstone National Park. From here you’ll continue through some thick forest until finally leaving the National Park. The trail then heads north and parallels the park boundary for a while.

There are some small ups and downs, but no significant climbs during this section of trail. The singletrack then turns into an old road which the CDT follows. Be sure to watch for a sharp right hand turn off the road and back onto singletrack trail. At this junction there is also the option to stay on the road and hike the Mack’s Inn Alternate.

If staying on the official CDT, the trail will eventually turn back to doubletrack. You’ll come to your first water source since Summit Lake, a nasty stagnant pond just off the gravel road. Fill up here if you need to, as it is still a ways to the next good water.

Continue walking the nice gravel road for a while, then descend to the junction with the Great Western Trail. The CDT turns right here, but there is a good water source located .4 miles to the left if needed.

The CDT ascends slightly, and you’ll eventually turn left back onto some nice singletrack trail. The trail climbs through the forest and eventually the terrain opens up offering some nice views. Thankfully a few good water sources are also found here, a welcome change from the previous prolonged dry stretch.

Continue along until you reach Highway 20 and Targhee Pass. This marks the end of Section 1. The town of West Yellowstone can be accessed via an easy hitch.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Some good views toward end of the section.


Long waterless stretch. Road walking.

Trailhead Elevation

8,438.00 ft (2,571.90 m)

Highest point

8,438.00 ft (2,571.90 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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