Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
7,887.00 ft (2,403.96 m)
Trail type
42.70 mi (68.72 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 5.

Montana-Idaho Section 5 begins from the Interstate 15 underpass, where the small town of Lima can be accessed. After walking underneath the interstate you’ll follow the gravel road as it parallels I-15. The road eventually turns left and leaves the interstate behind.

You’ll climb ever so slightly as you continue following the gravel road. You’ll pass Beaver Creek, and then have one last water source at Horse Creek. You’ll finally leave the road behind and turn right to climb steeply up to the ridge. The CDT then follow this ridge and fence-line up.

You’ll remain on the ridge for much of this section. The trail is just a faint footpath in areas, and the hiking is challenging with lots of ups and downs. The views however are worth the effort. The terrain is completely exposed, with nowhere to hide if the weather turns.

The next water source is a spring, located a short 5 minute hike downhill from the trail. Pay attention to the map so you don’t miss it! Once you’re back on trail more climbing awaits. After a seemingly endless day on the ridge you’ll finally descend down to Shineberger Creek. The trail follows the creek for a while then heads west, crossing a few more creek valleys including Little Beaver Creek.

You’ll soon come to Sawmill Creek and a remote trailhead. A big climb then awaits, 1,700’ feet straight up to a pass. The trail turns noticeably easier after topping out on the pass. The terrain is rolling with some nice tree cover. You’ll then descend down to some more streams.

Another climb awaits, then a bit of cross country travel until a footpath reemerges. You’ll traverse the exposed hillside with some nice views. The trail then turns to dirt road which you’ll follow past an old mining area, then down to some cow pasture land. Section 5 then ends at a remote trailhead at Bannack Pass.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Trail follows ridge for first half of section. Great views.


Challenging hiking, many ups and downs, faint footpath.

Trailhead Elevation

6,667.00 ft (2,032.10 m)

Highest point

9,092.00 ft (2,771.24 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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