Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
7,475.00 ft (2,278.38 m)
Trail type
36.00 mi (57.94 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 11.

Montana-Idaho Section 11 is arguably the finest hiking that northbound thru-hikers will have had since the Wind River Mountains back in Wyoming. The high alpine landscape with rugged peaks and alpine lakes is a dream to hike through.

Section 11 begins from Miner Lake Road. Follow this old road as it gently ascends to the Rock Island Lakes. You’ll follow the now singletrack trail as it steepens, climbing up to a saddle. Incredible views await form this high point. As you drop down from the saddle even more stunning views of Little Lake and Homer Youngs Peak (10,610’) await.

The trail contours the mountains for a while then climbs up to another saddle, before switchbacking down to Big Swamp Creek and a forest road. The CDT then climbs up toward Lena Lake (just off trail, worth the detour!). You’ll contour around a mountain ridge and join an ATV track.

A slight uphill climb awaits before arriving at the Slag-a-Melt Lakes. Be sure to spend some time here! The upper lake is a spectacular sight, and makes for a fantastic swim. You’ll then hike up to a saddle near Hirschy Mountain before switchbacking down.

The most exciting part of Section 11 is now behind you, but the terrain is still nice as you continue. Eventually you’ll descend down into the forested valley where the South Fork of Sheep Creek, then the North Fork of Sheep Creek await.

An old cabin stands near the trail, but is locked. You’ll cross the North Fork Sheep Creek than climb. The trail here follows a 4x4 road for a while, then turns off the road onto singletrack to finish the climb. There is good camping and a decent view at the top of the climb.

The remainder of Section 11 is mellow hiking out to a forest road. Follow this road to a trailhead which marks the end of the section. There is also a spring near here just downhill from the trail.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Stunning high alpine terrain. Big mountains. Lakes.

Trailhead Elevation

7,235.00 ft (2,205.23 m)

Highest point

9,228.00 ft (2,812.69 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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