Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
3,674.00 ft (1,119.84 m)
Trail type
16.80 mi (27.04 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 12.

Montana-Idaho Section 12 is a rather unexciting portion of the CDT. However, northbound thru-hikers have reason to celebrate as this is the last section of trail that follows that Montana/Idaho border. After this section the CDT veers east and leaves Idaho behind for good.

Section 12 begins at a small trailhead (there is a spring nearby for water) and heads into the forest. The trail climbs gradually and soon enters a burn area. The trail has been recently rerouted in areas, this is one of those areas. The new reroutes actually save some elevation change and are a welcome addition.

A big climb awaits after leaving the worst of the burn area. At the top of this climb there is a trail junction, to the left (and downhill) is a spring. Otherwise continue straight on the CDT.

Some downhill awaits, followed by another climb through another burn area. You’ll then come out to a forest road. The CDT follows this road the reminder of the way to Chief Joseph Pass.

The hiking along the forest road is quite mellow. There is one last water source (a spring) just off the road to the right. From here it is about 6 miles until Chief Joseph Pass.

When you reach the paved road you’ll have come to the end of Section 12. Most hikers will choose to travel from here to the nearby town of Darby to resupply. If doing so you may need to walk the additional mile down to Highway 93 to hitch as the traffic at Chief Joseph Pass is limited.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Last section of CDT in Idaho.


Burn areas. Unexciting terrain.

Trailhead Elevation

7,109.00 ft (2,166.82 m)

Highest point

8,193.00 ft (2,497.23 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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