Sleep In The Dirt

Section 1:

Colorado/New Mexico Border to Wolf Creek Pass

What We Found

The content below contains general information about Big Agnes staff experience while traveling along the CDT through Colorado in the summer of 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel this route, do so at your own risk. This section cuts through the heart of the Southern San Juan mountains, starting at the Colorado/New Mexico border. We found long, unobstructed views and awesome open ridge walks dotted with beautiful high-alpine lakes.

  • distance
    75.3 Miles
  • total ascent
    12,398 ft
  • total descent
    11,900 ft
  • highest point
    12,666
  • wilderness area
    yes
  • percent on trail
    100%

"The upkeep of the trail was awesome. Minimal downed trees and no real issues with water crossings. Our first attempt was in June but the San Juan forest was shut down due to the wild fires. There is quite less water in August when we returned to complete the section. There was water approximately every two hours on the trail - streams, lakes, and ponds mostly. To start we passed through Pagosa Springs and hit up some natural spring just outside of town near a river (so nice). I'd say that Kips Grill is the stop to make for food and margaritas. Good place for a last minute supply too." On Trail: August 21-28, 2018

Rodrigo Ahumada, Fulfillment Specialist, Big Agnes
Learn more about the hike

Our Itinerary

Southern Access Point:
Cumbres Pass (Hwy. 17, near Chama, New Mexico) – Ley Maps CO46

Northern Access Point:
Wolf Creek Pass (Hwy 160) – Ley Maps CO42

What We Experienced: 

Expect long, open views. Awesome, open ridge walks & beautiful high alpine lakes.

It is going to be cold, dry and beautiful. Plan on getting a very early start if it is snowy. Once the snow heats up it will be slow, slushy going all afternoon.

Additional Resources:

Leave No Trace Principles

Guthook Guide – Continental Divide Trail

U.S. Forest Service – Rio Grande National Forest

U.S. Forest Service – San Juan National Forest

 

Our Route

Ascent:
12,398 ft

Descent:
11,900 ft.

Grade per Mile:
336.2 feet

Pro tips:
Upon returning to Hwy. 17 from the out and back to NM border if desired, you will start climbing up into the majestic Southern San Juans.

The hike will get significantly easier once you hit Elwood Pass (about 45 miles in). From Elwood Pass you will enter multi-use area and follow some forest service roads.

Not much tree coverage, lots of widow-makers, expect afternoon lightning storms to slow you down.

Bring hiking poles.

Skills We Needed

• Snow hiking
• Navigation when trail is buried under snow
• Lightning Safety
• Stream Crossings
• LNT Ethics
• Widow-Maker Safety

* This site and routes described within contain general information about Big Agnes staff adventures in the backcountry, summer 2018. While we have made an effort to provide you with a valuable trip-planning tool, we cannot offer any assurance that this information is current, complete or even accurate – if you choose to travel these routes, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check local weather, trail conditions, closures, legal access points, Forest Service, BLM, or National Park rules and regulations, and other risks involved. We hope to inspire responsible backcountry and public land use, but by using our website you agree to use this information at your own risk.