Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
4,371.00 ft (1,332.28 m)
Trail type
26.90 mi (43.29 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 some 3,100 miles across 5 states from Mexico to Canada. The trail travels through the Rocky Mountains, exploring a vast array of different environments and landscapes along the way. The New Mexico portion of the trail features 820 miles of diverse hiking from the desolate Chihuahuan Desert in the south, to the unique Canyons of the Gila River, to the Rocky Mountains in the north. Exploring the Continental Divide Trail can be done as a single thru hike that will take 4-6 months, or by section hiking smaller segments. In this guide we’ll look at New Mexico Section 21.

Section 21 begins at the small trailhead off Lobo Canyon Road (Hwy 547). Northbound thru-hikers will be relieved to find that the long, paved road walk of Section 20 is now in the past, and some great singletrack trail lies ahead.

The trail begins by ascending up to the top of a mesa. The ascent is fairly gradual, and you’ll be met with a great view down to Grants as you top out.

The trail then heads across the flatlands toward Mount Taylor. You’ll eventually start to ascend and enter some forested terrain.

The trail then comes to Forest Road 193 and you’ll have a decision to make: stay on the official CDT or take the Mount Taylor Alternate. Many hikers will choose the alternate which leads to the summit of 11,316’ Mount Taylor.

If you choose to stay on the official CDT, you’ll traverse around the mountain through some enjoyable frosted terrain, topping out at about 9,700’.

The official CDT and the Mount Taylor Alternate eventually rejoin at Forest Road 435. The trail then continues generally north until meeting up with Forest Road 239 which marks the end of Section 21.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Enjoyable singletrack trail. Good views. Forested terrain near Mount Taylor.


Official CDT skips the summit of Mount Taylor.

Trailhead Elevation

6,950.00 ft (2,118.36 m)

Highest point

9,736.00 ft (2,967.53 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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