3. Continental Divide Trail: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, 3,100 miles
Completing the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) should gain you a doctorate in long-distance trekking logistics. Much of the route follows the remote and rugged crest of the Rocky Mountains: waters on the west of the divide drain to the Pacific and those on the east flow to the Atlantic. There are few resupply points and only 70% of the path is completed and signposted, so route finding is a significant challenge. About two dozen people a year attempt to hike the entire CDT, with a mere handful successfully completing the journey. On average, the trek takes about six months, with significant risk from deep snow and summer lightning.
Top tip The CDT passes through dramatic mountain scenery in five states, but the highlight is probably the Bob Marshall Wilderness in northern Montana. One of the largest wildernesses in the continental US, the “Bob”, as it’s nicknamed, is home to abundant wildlife. Meeting a grizzly bear is also a possibility in some regions of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Carry bear spray on your hip belt and avoid surprising a bear by making plenty of noise as you hike. Bears usually want to avoid people as much as people want to avoid them.