CDT: Many Glacier Hotel to Chief Mountain Terminus

Glacier National Park (USA)

An alternate way to complete the CDT when snow or logistics into Canada are problematic.

Also in Alberta, Canada

Hiking Moderate

Distance
44 km
Ascent
1.5 km
Descent
1.4 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
1.4 km
High Point
2.3 km
Gradient
CDT: Many Glacier Hotel to Chief Mountain Terminus Map

Forming the Triple Crown of Hiking in the United States, the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail are all epic endeavors that take years to plan and prepare for. On top of the extensive gear list needed to successfully complete a thru-hike, arriving at a trail's start or finish is often one of the most under-appreciated tasks for those new to the challenge.

Description

For instance, let's take the Appalachian Trail. Its southern terminus sits atop Springer Mountain, which requires either a long dirt road recommended for only high-clearance vehicles or an 8-mile trek up the Approach Trail. The northern terminus rests atop Mount Kathadin in Baxter SP in Maine, and requires you to choose a route off the mountain - of which there are many.

All that to say, the CDT is no different. Its southern terminal requires hiring a shuttle to arrive at the Crazy Cook Monument, a remote landmark along the US/Mexico Border. In contrast, thru-hikers have two options to finish the trail at the US/Canada Border. The most popular way is via the Waterton Route, which ends at an obscure point on the border. There, hikers can continue a few more miles into Canada to the nearest trailhead. While popular, crossing an international border requires an extra layer of logistics that some aren't able to prepare for. Snow, wildfires, and trail closures are also variables that hikers must consider when choosing between both options.

This route connects Many Glacier Hotel to Chief Mountain Highway by way of Red Gap Pass, Ptarmigan Trail, and Belly River, for a lower-elevation journey to the trail's end. Notable campsites are available at Poia and Elizabeth Lakes, two stunning glacial lakes known for the nearby peaks that often reflect off their calm surfaces. The views are nothing short of epic, and the trail hosts a more mellow finish just within the US/Canada Border. Should this route be snowed in, a road walk is another popular way to complete the CDT.

As with all of Glacier National Park, pets are prohibited on all trails in the backcountry, and wildlife is often present. Grizzlies, in particular, pose the most threat to hikers, and bear-proof canisters are required for camping in the backcountry. Bear spray also comes highly recommended, though the more popular trails tend to lead to fewer sightings.

Sources: https://thetrek.co/continental-divide-trail/10-things-2020-cdt-hikers-need-know/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ContinentalDivideTrail

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

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

Remoteness

3 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area