Outside of Honey Stinger’s headquarters in Steamboat Springs, CO, meandering through the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, lies one of the most significant trail systems in the world – the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT). Congress designated the CDT in 1978 to preserve the natural, scenic, and historic resources along its corridor. It extends 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. To this day, the CDT is the highest, most challenging, and most remote of the 11 National Scenic Trails.
Photo by Kate Bobal
The Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) is the nonprofit created to complete, promote and protect the CDT. The CDTC works to build a coalition of people dedicated to the preservation of this natural resource. Through donations from individual donors, members, and partnerships with outdoor industry brands like Honey Stinger, the CDTC works to complete, promote, and protect the CDT.
Completing the Trail
Together with local land management agencies, trail maintenance organizations, and a national network of volunteers, the CDTC organizes over 10 trail maintenance projects a year and manages a network of over 60 volunteer Trail Adopters. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of these trail crews, the CDT is about 95% complete. With their hard work, only about 170 miles of the trail need protection as public land and another 612 miles need to be relocated off of roads.
One of the sections in need of relocation is near Steamboat Springs, CO. The Trail follows a 14-mile section of Highway 40 due to a lack of public land in the area. Because of its location on a road, this is one of the most dangerous sections of the CDT. It’s a high priority for relocation off the busy highway and onto scenic single track. The CDTC is working with the US Forest Service, private landowners, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to begin the process of completing this section of trail to create a safer, more scenic experience for CDT users.
Photo courtesy of Big Agnes
Promoting the Trail
Another priority for the CDTC is promoting the CDT as a world-class natural resource available for all to enjoy. The CDTC provides accurate, up-to-date trail information to the public by creating CDT Maps, advising people on responsible use of the CDT, and informing people how to access the Trail. Also, the CDTC are committed to justice, diversity, equality, and inclusion in the outdoors. In 2019, they undertook an effort to tell the untold stories of CDT landscapes in order to help create a future where all people are included in its conservation and protection.
Protecting the Trail
Through its advocacy efforts, the CDTC ensures that the Trail is protected for current and future generations to enjoy. Each year the staff visits members of Congress from CDT states. This visit gives CDTC staff the opportunity to talk about the CDT’s importance to individuals, economies, and communities across the U.S. Also, they take this time to educate elected representatives about the CDT, public lands, and the funding needed to sustain them.
At a community level, CDTC engages individuals and organizations in Gateway Communities. These communities recognize the unique economic and cultural value that the CDT brings. Through their partnership with the CDTC, CDT Gateway Communities learn how to provide services for CDT users, educate local residents about how to access the trail, and advocate for continued access to public lands.
Individuals interested in supporting the CDTC’s work can donate or register for upcoming volunteer trail maintenance projects at continentaldividetrail.org.
*content, facts, and images provided by the Continental Divide Trail Coalition