Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
5,326.00 ft (1,623.36 m)
Trail type
31.00 mi (49.89 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 3.

Montana-Idaho Section 3 begins from Red Rock Pass. You’ll follow a double track road for just a minute, but the trail will soon turn to singletrack. The CDT enters the Centennial Mountains Wilderness Study Area, where the trail remains for much of this section.

The first highlight is Hell Roaring Canyon. This impressive and rugged canyon features high rock walls and the scenic Hell Roaring Creek. You’ll descend down to the water and cross via footbridge. You’ll cross the creek twice more, but with no footbridges unfortunately.

The hiking gets less exciting as you leave the creek behind. The Mack’s Inn Alternate rejoins the CDT near Lillian Lake. You’ll then have a decent climb up some switchbacks where, at the top, you’ll see a sign about the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station.

The trail continues along with a few ups and downs, and also passes one of the last water sources for a while so be sure to fill up. You’ll join a dirt road for a short while, then veer right. The trail then begins to work its way up toward Taylor Mountain. Switchbacks make for a nice gradual climb.

The views turn fantastic as you climb higher (be sure to look behind you for Teton views). The CDT doesn’t top out on the summit of Taylor Mountain, but gets close. Near the summit there are some tarns with water near the trail that are just hidden from view.

The trail then follows an old mining road down the mountain. The hiking here is mellow. You’ll eventually be back on singletrack trail that closely follows the Continental Divide and Idaho/Montana state line.

You’ll descend and begin to pass several small streams. Section 3 then ends when you reach the Aldous Lake Trailhead, where there are picnic tables and a vault toilet nearby.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Rugged Hell Roaring Canyon. Beautiful views from Taylor Mountain.


A bit of a long water carry in middle of section.

Trailhead Elevation

7,144.00 ft (2,177.49 m)

Highest point

9,602.00 ft (2,926.69 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.