Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
6,406.00 ft (1,952.55 m)
Trail type
31.60 mi (50.86 km)
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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 14.

Section 14 is where the Anaconda-Pintler Mountains slowly start getting good for northbound hikers. It begins from Schultz Saddle which can be accessed by forest roads. You’ll still be hiking through recent burn area, but nothing as bad as previous Section 13.

The trail eventually enters the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness and shortly thereafter comes to Surprise Lake. This lovely small lake is great for a swim or a lunch break. After the lake you’ll be back into some burn area, but not quite as recently burned.

The trail primarily sticks to the ridge as it continues northward. You’ll have some great views of the Big Hole Valley to the south. Water is a bit limited during this stretch, you may need to venture a short ways off trail to find a small but reliable spring.

You’ll eventuality hike through a bit of a wetland area which offers a couple water sources, but may also be thick with mosquitoes. A gradual ascent leads you away from the wetland and toward the higher peaks of the Anaconda.

Things really start getting good as you near Elk Park and West Pintler Peak. There’s an option for an off trail Ley alternate route that takes you past Saw Cabin Lake, climbs steeply up to a notch, then descends to Oreamus Lake before following a trail back to the official CDT. I’d highly recommend this alternate to anyone who is comfortable with a little off trail navigation.

You’ll then climb up to Pintler Pass, before descending to Johnson Lake which marks the end of the section. If you thought the last few miles were good, Section 15 is about to blow you away.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Increasingly better scenery and bigger mountains. An option for a fun off trail alternate route.


More burn areas.

Trailhead Elevation

7,937.00 ft (2,419.20 m)

Highest point

8,824.00 ft (2,689.56 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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