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CDT: Homestake (Interstate 90) to MacDonald Pass (US-12)

A 100-mile passage north through the heart of the Butte-Jefferson Ranger District, with an option to visit Our Lady of the Rockies statue overlooking Butte.

Hiking Difficult

160 km
4.2 km
4.2 km
1 day +
Low Point
1.9 km
High Point
2.6 km
CDT: Homestake (Interstate 90) to MacDonald Pass (US-12) Map

This segment of the CDT begins at Homestake Pass along Interstate 90 and east of Butte. Though not considered an official Gateway Community for the trail, the town of 34,000 offers just about everything a thru-hiker could need. It also doubles as a great jump-off for other adventures in the region.


Numerous trailheads offer CDT access south of town, while others north in Elk Park allow options for shuttles and other section hikes, even if a thru-hike isn't on your list. The city also hosts a healthy population of trail runners and mountain bikers, though most tend to stay on trails closer to town.

Of the first 30 miles heading north from the trailhead, a key highlight of the area is the 90-foot Our Lady of the Rockies statue. Though not immediately accessible from the trail, a quick detour leads to a spectacular view atop the Continental Divide with Butte situated 3,500' below and to the west. Noted by Wikipedia as the fourth-tallest statue in the US, it is dedicated to "all women, especially virgin mothers," and remains lit through the night. Whether you're thru-hiking or visiting town, the statue is the icon of the area and well worth the visit.

Further north, the trail again crosses Interstate 15, transitioning from trail to road as you near the highway. Overnight parking is available at Nez Perce Road to the east and at Konda to the west. You may have some time before you encounter drinking water ahead, though, so consider referencing the CDT Water Report for the most up-to-date information and whether or not you may have enough for the next leg.

North, the trail traverses remote corners of the Butte-Jefferson RD, an area explored by many facets of outdoorsman including equestrians, OHV, fisherman, and hunters, among others. Remote road crossings provide limited access to the CDT, so for the most part, thru-hikers should expect complete autonomy through the 70-mile section. You'll enjoy plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife such as deer, moose, elk, and bear, and the views along the way are never in short supply.

Sources: http://www.montanatrailcrew.com/2021/01/tims-summers-on-cdt-part-6-homestake-to.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OurLadyoftheRockies



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between May and October


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area