About the Author, Katrina Zick: Katrina lives in Texas and travels frequently for her adventures. She loves hiking, climbing, and running whenever she gets the chance. After her first thru-hike of the John Muir Trail, she decided to start a company creating outdoor gear and clothing for women, Unsheltered, LLC. (Instagram: @shopunsheltered). You can find her on Instagram @katrinas_adventures_outdoors.
If you plan to hike a section of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), the first thing you’ll notice is that there isn’t a lot of information out there. The wealth of resources that exist for the Appalachian Trail (AT) or Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) aren’t present for the CDT. The trail has had several changes over the years. Reported water sources vary dramatically from year to year, and some of the countless alternates are more popular than the official trail with thru hikers. Still, I am determined to hike a section and share the information I find.
For maps and navigation I decided to use the Guthook Guide app along with a combination of paper maps made from two sources: Jonathan Ley and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. The Guthook guide app is available for $40 for the entire CDT or $10 per state. I also always carry paper maps for the section I’m hiking since I do not trust my phone to have battery power the whole time. Both sets of paper maps are available at no charge online but a donation is requested to compensate for the hard work it took to keep the maps available and updated. I am using a combination because I prefer one over the other for certain sections. Please note, Jonathan Ley’s maps do a fantastic job of including details on alternates as well as the official CDT. My plan is to hike the section from Silver City to Pie Town, NM. This section also includes the very popular Gila River alternate, highly recommended by past thru hikers. Currently this is my only alternate I plan to take, keeping to the official trail for the rest of the section. Unlike the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail has several sections of road walking making it easier to get off the trail if necessary.
Permit requirements vary based on which section of the CDT you are hiking. For this section, the only permit required is a New Mexico State Land Office Recreational Access Permit. Sections of state land are scattered in small areas throughout the New Mexico portion of the CDT and are hard to avoid. Due to a recent change in rules, if you are hiking on NM state land at all, this permit is now required. The permit is $35 and can be found on the NM State Lands website.(www.nmstatelands.org/Recreational_Access.aspx). Currently, the application must be mailed in with a check and a copy of the permit will be mailed to you. Alternately, you can obtain the permit by going in person to the New Mexico State Land Office in Santa Fe. The permit is valid for one year. Please check the website for updates or more information.
I am only resupplying once on this section. Doc Campbell’s Post is a popular place that is rarely missed. I sent myself enough food to cover my main meals and left room to pick up whatever snacks sound best at the time when I’m there. I know my body well enough to know that at high altitude – especially after only training at sea level – I can’t always predict my appetite or food cravings. Everyone is different though. Doc Campbell’s Post also offers hikers a place to charge their electronics and has a major reputation for great ice cream. Make sure when mailing your resupply that you mail it to the correct address. When I called ahead they told me to mail my resupply box to 3796 Highway 15, Mimbres, NM- the address shown on their Facebook, NOT the one on Google. Doc Campbell’s will hold your resupply boxes until you arrive for a small fee.
I found transportation to and from the trail to be particularly difficult. I am flying into El Paso, renting a car, and driving to Silver City. This gives me an opportunity to check out cool places nearby before starting the trail like Hueco Tanks State Park- just outside of El Paso. Fortunately, there is an Enterprise in Silver City that I can drop the car off at which makes this possible. A local trail angel was kind enough to offer me a ride from Pie Town – where I end my hike – to Socorro. From there I can catch a Rail Runner Express shuttle to Belen. Then, I will transfer to the NM Rail Runner train that will take me to the beautiful city of Albuquerque to fly home. Make sure and call ahead to reserve a spot on the bus and train so you don’t miss your flight. I am so thankful to have found a trail angel that is able to give me a ride. Trail angels do so much good out of the kindness of their hearts that make the trail possible for so many. If you ever come across a trail angel, please thank them and reimburse them for their troubles if you are able to do so. Often they help others out at their own expense and donations often go towards their ability to help others in the future.
I hope this is helpful to anyone planning to section hike the CDT! Happy Trails!