Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,699.00 ft (517.86 m)
Trail type
27.60 mi (44.42 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 Wyoming Section 20.

Wyoming Section 20 begins at the Yellowstone National Park southern boundary. Reaching the park is a big accomplishment for northbound thru-hikers. If you haven’t secured a backcountry camping permit in advance (required to camp at any backcountry site in Yellowstone) you will need to hike through all of Section 20 in one day and hitch to Grant Village Campground to camp legally.

The trail begins by soon crossing the Snake River, then paralleling it upstream. The trail stays on the left side of the river, often high above until crossing then following the right side of the river further upstream as the canyon deepens and the views get better.

After Sickle Creek the trail really flattens out. You’ll continue following the Snake River until you come to a large, scenic meadow. Continue across this meadow until you come to the Heart River, which you’ll then cross and follow upstream.

The trail then leaves the river and circles around Heart Lake, finally ending with a 1/2 mile sandy shore-walk. The trail then leaves the lake and passes directly in front of a patrol cabin, before arriving at the Witch Creek area. This is the first geothermal hot pools area that CDT hikers will come to since entering Yellowstone. Enjoy the sights and smells as you make your way up a small, 600 foot climb.

The trail then flattens out again and stays in the forest until reaching the main park road. From here many hikers will hitch into Grant Village to camp, get permits, resupply or enjoy the all you can eat breakfast buffet. This is the end of Section 20.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round



Yellowstone National Park. Heart Lake. Geothermal pools.


Permit required for camping.

Trailhead Elevation

8,208.00 ft (2,501.80 m)

Highest point

8,209.00 ft (2,502.10 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Geologically significant
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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