Guidebook

The CDT: New Mexico Section

Explore remote desert expanses, wander through fields of ancient lava, then climb your way into Colorado as the CDT begins its journey north through the Land of Enchantment.

Brendon Voelker

Description

Beginning at an obscure point on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, the Continental Divide Trail begins a wild 3,000-mile journey northward towards Canada. Though arriving at the trailhead is almost as much of a journey as the trail itself, northbound hikers flock to the Crazy Cook Monument every spring, often setting their sights on April 15th to begin their trek. This guidebook encompasses the section of the CDT in New Mexico, totaling just under 800 miles between state lines, plus a few more to the nearest road crossing at Cumbres Pass.

For thru-hikers beginning their journey, the southernmost sections of the CDT boast “an extensive history of war, pioneering adventure, and Native American resettlement to add to its mystique," the CDT Coalition describes. The trail also passes through the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert, where you’ll have plenty of chances to view wildlife, including golden eagles, kestrels, and other birds along the steep cliffsides. "Other species of note found in the area include desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn, javelina, mountain lion, thick-billed kingbird, varied bunting, several species of rattlesnakes and the Sonoran mountain kingsnake," the article continues.

Once part of ancient cultures including “lands of the Chiricahua Apache, Pueblos, Western Apache, Ute, and Zuni tribes,” the CDT Coalition considers the trail to pass through some of the most “spectacular natural and historic landscapes” the Land of Enchantment has to offer. “Ponderosa pine, cottonwoods, aspen, mesquite, prickly pear, [and] yucca” can be found throughout different portions of the trail, and the volcanic badlands near El Malpais National Monument seen on this segment are a sight to behold. Of course, the stunning Wild and Scenic Rio Chama River seen on this section is one of the trail’s other highlights, and a popular destination with the whitewater crowd.

For thru-hikers, planning your time in New Mexico comes with a few challenges - most notably, water. Though a distinct monsoon season moves in mid-to-late summer, spring weather tends to produce less rain and can be potentially dangerous if you don’t plan ahead. Thankfully, the CDT Water Report is there to help. Up-to-date information on wells, water tanks, and seasonal springs can be found by-mileage, or by-state. A series of water cache boxes are also managed by the CDT Coalition and help to bridge longer stretches without dependable water. More information on those caches, plus hiker shuttles, gateway community information, and permitting can be found here.

Sources:
CDT Coalition

CDT: Southern Terminus to NM-9
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: Southern Terminus to NM-9

1 day +
72.0 km
956 m
832 m
The southernmost section of the CDT as it explores the Chihuahuan Desert and crosses the Big Hatchet Mountains.
Moderate
Private
CDT: NM-9 to Lordsburg
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: NM-9 to Lordsburg

1 day +
62.9 km
545 m
670 m
A barren wasteland of solitude as you round out the southernmost section of the CDT.
Moderate
Private
CDT: Lordsburg to Silver City
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: Lordsburg to Silver City

1 day +
118.9 km
2,467 m
1,878 m
Hike this section of the CDT as it transitions from the barren Chihuahuan Desert, into the Big Burro Mountains.
Difficult
Private
CDT: Silver City to Sapillo Campground
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: Silver City to Sapillo Campground

1 day +
68.0 km
2,094 m
2,105 m
A shorter section of the CDT connecting the Gateway Community of Silver City to Sapillo Campground, via the historic Pinos Altos Mountains.
Difficult
Private
CDT: Sapillo Campground to NM-163
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: Sapillo Campground to NM-163

1 day +
142.3 km
3,944 m
3,509 m
Hike along the rim of a canyon, the transition into the rugged Aldo Leopold Wilderness, some of New Mexico's wildest and most rugged mountains.
Difficult
Private
CDT: NM-163 to NM-12
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: NM-163 to NM-12

1 day +
131.3 km
3,839 m
3,928 m
A long westward traverse defined by grassy canyonlands and high mountain peaks.
Difficult
Private
CDT: NM-12 to Pie Town
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: NM-12 to Pie Town

1 day +
76.6 km
1,375 m
1,263 m
A quiet section of the CDT ending with a long road walk into the world-famous Pie Town.
Moderate
Private
CDT: Pie Town to Grants
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: Pie Town to Grants

1 day +
180.1 km
1,097 m
1,469 m
A long road walk followed by a tour around the stunning El Malpais National Monument.
Moderate
Private
CDT: Grants to Cuba
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: Grants to Cuba

1 day +
169.4 km
2,806 m
2,674 m
The long, 100+ mile stretch through remote wilderness between Grants and Cuba.
Difficult
Private
CDT: Cuba to Martinez Canyon (US-84)
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: Cuba to Martinez Canyon (US-84)

1 day +
93.9 km
2,371 m
2,367 m
Two long wilderness traverses through vast meadows, deep canyons, and stands of spruce and pine.
Difficult
Private
CDT: Martinez Canyon (US-84) to Cumbres Pass (CO-17)
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP's Editorial team.

CDT: Martinez Canyon (US-84) to Cumbres Pass (CO-17)

1 day +
149.6 km
3,607 m
2,663 m
The northernmost section of the CDT in New Mexico as it crosses over some of the state's highest peaks.
Difficult
Private