Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) Loop

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) Loop is a 28.8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Grand Lake, Colorado that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until September.

Distance: 28.8 miles Elevation Gain: 4,957 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

no dogs

Reservations to enter the park will go on sale through Recreation.gov at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Thursday, May 28. Reservations will be available to enter the park from June 4 through July 31. The next release will be on July 1, for the month of August and any remaining days that have not been booked for July. On August 1, reservations will be available for the month of September and any remaining days that have not been booked for August. On September 1, reservations will be available for the month of October and any remaining days in September that have not been booked. Permits issued using the reservation system will allow park visitors to enter the park within two-hour windows of availability between 6 a.m. through 5 p.m. This process will facilitate advance payment of entrance fees, minimize contact between park entrance station staff and visitors and limit congestion in parking lots. The permit system will apply to all areas of the park. In the initial opening phase, the park will open approximately 60 percent of the park’s maximum parking capacity or 4,800 vehicles (13,500 visitors) per day.

hiking
3 days ago

I think people need to be more honest about actually hiking the full trail instead of saying they did then giving a made up story about hiking the trail C,Mon Man!

hiking
rocky
15 days ago

Great trail for a backpacking trip. I am from the Midwest and i decided to take my wife on her first backpacking trip and even her first trip out west. We did this loop in 4 days and 3 nights and started at the Green Mtn. Trailhead. The trail along with the campsites were all very easy to follow and every thing was marked. The scenery was beautiful and made for a great time. We made the trip a little longer by exploring a-lot of the connecting trails along the CDT loop trail. I recommend this trail for anybody that has the opportunity to get there. The trail and elevation make it difficult in spots but it not bad enough that it should keep you from giving it a try.

hiking
rocky
snow
7 months ago

I hiked this with my Boy Scout troop a couple years ago so forgive me, the details are kinda spotty. But none the less this is an amazing hike, it’s definitely not for beginners but was my 2nd backpacking trip. We did it 5 days/ 4 nights in late June, early July. Trails are mainly well kept but we didn’t come across many other hikers. On the 3rd day we trekked through some snow at about 11,000 feet up to 12,000 where we saw table rock and the continental divide. It is absolutely beautiful up there. There’s a lot of switch backs and elevation gain on this day so start early. Temps stayed in the 60-70 range in the day and no lower than 40 at night. I am thinking about going back and hiking this loop again! 6/10 difficulty for an intermediate to experienced hiker, depending on how many days you want to spend. Definitely recommend this loop!

hiking
8 months ago

I had a blast on this loop. We took four nights to do it and included the Green Mountain/Onahu loop for one full day. The scenery was incredible. I loved all the meadows and seeing how the environment changed as you went up in elevation. I was most looking forward to the "high elevation day," however that day ended up with us dealing with hurricane force winds on the divide. I lost all feeling in my fingers for way too long and my nose is still blistered. I definitely want to head up there again when the wind isn't quite so bad. We did the loop clockwise. For those of you going counterclockwise, much respect for going up those switchbacks around the July campsite. I didn't even want to go down those, let alone up. Lots of wildlife and the aspens were peak!

Absolutely beautiful hike. Hiked Clockwise from the Tonahutu trailhead Friday starting sept 20. Not for the beginner backpacker but was personally my 4th backpacking and was limping Sunday and hip bruises throughout. Flattop mountain was high and windy (arctic wind) for several miles, took a long time at high elevation so start early because the weather would be brutal with rain that would probably turn to snow. The pass was amazingly gigantic and reminded me of the lord of the rings two towers where they hide under the rocks. Awesome cairns along the trail. At one point our friend almost got blown into Ptarmigan lake thousands of feet below from the pass. Accidentally skipped our 2nd night campsite porcupine and did an extra couple miles until we found out from talking with another hiker. Signage was a bit camouflaged. Saw a beautiful bull elk with antlers near big meadows and moose near our porcupine campsite. Beautiful golden Aspens, waterfalls, and creeks.

hiking
8 months ago

Completed this loop 9/13-9/15, with 3 days and two nights. Perfect weather with no rain, highs around 70 and lows at 40. We started at the Inlet trailhead, going counterclockwise. Trail is very well marked and in great condition. Great opportunity for wildlife, as we saw moose and mink. Fairly flat with the only incline being about 5 miles up to Flattop mountain. Once at flattop, conditions were extremely exposed with high winds for about 3-4 miles. This was a fantastic loop, great for the inexperienced backpacker.

8 months ago

I finished this in 13 hours starting and ending at N Inlet Trailhead, going counter clockwise. I started at 430 and still got a few storms above treeline. Only about ten people all day on a weekday. I wish I had brought a beany as it's getting chilly at the top, even with a strong late wildflower season. Tips: currently there are still strong creeks above 12,000ft and much more water than the maps would indicate. The mosquitos are plentiful in the Big Meadows area. The section above treeline has no cover and takes many gorgeous hours to cross, so being mindful of storms and your tolerance for altitude, cold, and sun. The trail is well maintained and really easy to follow. None of the grade are that steep or slippery, just long.

hiking
9 months ago

I would highly recommend this trail, it is well marked with lots of wildlife along the way. It’s a good idea to leave early to make sure you get a park and up to the top of the mountain before the afternoon storms start. We did the whole walk in 1 day which took 12hrs including a few stops, was a 31 mile round trip and worth every bit. I would highly recommend.

backpacking
9 months ago

My wife and I backpacked this trail as part of a ~40 mile loop starting and ending at Bear Lake. The scenery from the top of the Continental Divide is great and there is a lot of wildlife along the trail (elk, moose, deer, etc). The meadows along the route are very cool, but do get a little repetitive. If you have the extra time, I recommend doing a trip up to Lake Nokoni (you can spend two nights at Pine Marten to do this). Here is a report I wrote describing our route and trip in detail: https://backpackers-review.com/trip-reports/rocky-mountain-national-park/

hiking
9 months ago

Backpacked this on 8/9/19 weekend. This is the perfect backpacking trail for beginners. The incline carrying weight is no joke, but it was manageable for a group of fairly inexperienced backpackers. The views were absolutely beautiful with a great mix of wildlife, meadows, forest, waterfalls, and incredible views of the range at the top. We also saw two moose in the first mile starting clockwise. Arrived late Friday and started around 6pm and finished Sunday midday. I wish we would have started earlier Friday to not have to hurry as much Saturday. Bring bug spray* the bugs are bad this year near the water. Great trail, do it.

hiking
10 months ago

Did the trail over 3 days/2nights clockwise from Kawuneeche visitor center. Saw lots of deer, moose, and marmots. Over timberline it went from super hot and sunny to windy and hailing in just a matter of minutes. Some of the best terrain and views in this park.

hiking
10 months ago

We did this but started at Bear Lake Trailhead and took Flat top mountain trail to tie into the loop. Awesome hike and not for the faint at heart. The elevation gains on flat top mountain trail from bear lake and up again from Ptarmigan pass will make you earn it! Best views in RMNP for sure. Also take the 1+ miler to Haynach lake!

hiking
bugs
no shade
10 months ago

Did this over 2 nights 3 days. Stayed at July 1st night and Sunset 2nd night. Unfortunately the 1st and 3rd day are all basically in the forest. However I think day 2 makes up for it. Amazing hiking on day 2 which is all above tree line with exceptional views. Worth it if you don’t mind forest walking for day 1 and 3.

hiking
bridge out
closed
rocky
snow
10 months ago

Awesome trail. It was beautiful. We backpacked July 16-21. The trails in the utmost elevations has snow. Scary snow cover trails on steep hillside trails. In addition, one thing to note there was a portion of the trail closed due to dangerous tree area. The detour is not on the loop and there was a huge pile of trees to walk over on the detour. We felt confused if we were in the right trail. This was somewhat close to Granite Falls.

hiking
10 months ago

Amazing trail, water levels are super high and switchbacks still had enough snow to make the way down a little sketchy but all totally worth it!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
10 months ago

Hiked this 7/6-7/8. Completed this in three days starting from north inlet trailhead and staying the first night in July and the second in granite falls. The hike from North inlet trailhead to July was not particularly challenging and took us around 7 hours. However, currently, July to Granite poses some difficult challenges. Half of the switchbacks after July were covered by snow. An early start is recommended to pass them safely and cutting some of them may be necessary. Snow fields are plenty with potholing frequent but some of them avoidable by hiking around them and looking for the rock stacks as guidance for the trail. A half mile or so after timberline group camp is a plethora of debris with snow from a recent avalanche. Much of this won’t apply in a couple weeks when the snow has completely melted. We were able to reach timberline from July in about 6 hours and reached granite falls in another hour and a half. Granite falls to tonahutu trailhead took us 5 hours as it was a steady descent. We were able to spot a few moose along Big Meadow! Either way this hike is highly recommended, just be careful when going through the snowfields as the snow is getting softer with the warmer weather. Beautiful views are endless, particularly above the tree line.

hiking
muddy
snow
Sat May 11 2019

Really muddy and some snow (packed down) but definitely navigable in hiking boots!

hiking
Sat Apr 27 2019

We did this loop starting on the north side (recommend). The best views were from flat top and down the south side. Great camp sites.

hiking
Fri Sep 14 2018

Beautiful trail.

hiking
Sun Sep 09 2018

We hiked this to flattop mountain on a day hike. A little longer then we expected and then further got delayed by having a bull moose on the trail who would run at us when we tried to pass, ended up waiting 30 minutes for him to move on. Lots of wildlife 2 bull moose, elk, mule deer, beautiful views and lots of water. 22 miles total for us in 10 hours. Not to bad

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