Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
11,513.00 ft (3,509.16 m)
Trail type
76.90 mi (123.76 km)
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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 19.

Section 19 begins near Butte along Interstate 15. It is a lengthy section of the CDT, stretching some 77 miles from the Interstate until Highway 12 and MacDonald Pass.

Hikers taking the Anaconda Cutoff will miss the first part of this section, rejoining the official route where Forest Roads 8634 and 674 meet.

From here continue north, over Champion Pass, and through the rolling terrain that offers easy hiking and pleasant views. You’ll walk through some pastureland, with a handful of great springs scattered about.

You’ll pass a couple small ponds, then pass near the summit of Thunderbolt Mountain. There’s a great viewpoint after this offering stellar mountain vistas.

The trail descends and spends time in the forest, passing a couple more small ponds. The CDT eventually turns to doubletrack dirt road which you’ll follow to Bullion Parks. Continue onward to Highway 12 and MacDonald Pass. This marks the end of Section 19. The large town of Helena lies to the east. Most hikers will hitch into town to resupply and rest.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Some good springs. Easy walking with decent views.


Long section. Nice scenery, but nothing stunning.

Trailhead Elevation

6,300.00 ft (1,920.24 m)

Highest point

8,391.00 ft (2,557.58 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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