Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
7,335.00 ft (2,235.71 m)
Trail type
34.10 mi (54.88 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 15.

Section 15 of the CDT begins deep in the heart of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. There is no road access here, if you are only section hiking you’ll need to walk in via side trail. Section 15 is the highlight of the Anacondas, and certainly one of the highlights of Montana as well.

You’ll begin from beautiful Johnson Lake. From here it’s a big climb up to Rainbow Pass. The views are well worth it though. From the top you’ll have a great look back down at Johnson Lake where you started, as well as picturesque Martin Lake and the surrounding mountain peaks.

From the pass you’ll descend steadily, switchbacking your way down to large Rainbow Lake where there is some good camping and swimming. You’ll then descend through the West Fork Fishtrap Creek Valley. At the next junction turn left and begin climbing again.

Warren Lake is the next highlight, and it’s a stunning one. The shallow and rocky lake isn’t good for a swim, but the views are absolutely fantastic and there is some good camping here.

You’ll then descend into the West Fork La Marche Creek Valley before yet another climb up to Cutaway Pass. A descent to the East Fork of Rock Creek awaits. The trail then contours above Queener Basin before climbing up to Rainbow Mountain where more stunning views await.

Following the pattern you’ll again descend to small Page Lake, before one last climb up to Goat Flat. This is where the Anaconda Alternate Route splits from the official CDT. If taking the alternate, turn left at the junction and head for Storm Lake Pass. If staying on the official route, you’ll begin a big descent that will take you beside Upper Seymour Lake, then eventually out of the wilderness and to Lower Seymour Lake (and campground) where Section 15 ends.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Stunning mountains. Lovely lakes. One of the highlights of Montana CDT.


Big climbs and descents.

Trailhead Elevation

7,673.00 ft (2,338.73 m)

Highest point

9,360.00 ft (2,852.93 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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