Unlike on well-known long trails, don’t expect a crowd of hikers to come to your aid if there’s a problem: Long stretches of the GDT are practically deserted. “The GDT truly embodies everything there is to love and protect in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, but if we continue to keep it off the map, it may become more legend than reality.”. Had the griz I saw before returned, or was this a second one? Way too close. It needs you, dear reader, in order to survive, but I’ll be back someday soon to finish it, and I hope to beat you to it. The route follows the Continental Divide and is 90% off-pavement using high-quality dirt roads, gravel roads, trails, and a few short sections of unmaintained tracks. It was an awesome hike, filled with insane views and long days. Yes, Hiking Canada’s Great Divide Trail (third edition 2017 – Revised and Updated) by Dustin Lynx. Official app of Canada’s Great Divide Trail Association. Great Divide Trail Thru Hike Here's a video I just finished on my thru hike of Canada's Great Divide Trail. They should carry a map and compass, and know how to use them. Do not rely on solely a GPS device; paper maps never fail. Backpackers will enjoy the beautiful scenery, many glaciers, jagged rocky peaks, wildflowers, wildlife, and so much more. Drive or get a ride to a village nearby where showers and warm meals are available. It features nice ridge walks with views of valleys and snowy mountains to the west and the prairies to the east. An initial look at my overall plans for thru-hiking Canada’s Great Divide Trail. They’re closer to securing official sanction than they’ve ever been before: Alberta is considering giving provincial protection to its portions (about 65 percent of the trail), and for the first time, Banff National Park has opened up discussions with the GDTA for managing hikers. This is Section C, one of the middle sections of it. That means trail meals and snacks will make up most of the trekkers’ diet on the GDT. The route is really more of a corridor than a trail. All other nights will be spent in the tent, mostly in developed and undeveloped backcountry sites. I hightailed it up an adjacent tundra bench, waited for 30 minutes, and doubled back about 200 yards farther down the way. It takes you from Mount Robson Provincial Park to Kakwa Lake Provincial Park. A hiker crests the GDT’s 8,500-foot high point (mile 411), which, fittingly, lacks an official name. On the other hand, I also learned that company looks mighty appealing when you’re outnumbered by grizzlies. It also allows taking advantage of the longest days of summer. This allows most regular people to hike this incredible trail over three to six summers. Thanks to the Continental Divide Trail Coalition for providing us with the five things you should know before you hike the CDT: Water, water, water. It also requires a little bushwhacking and fording a few streams, but this should be a formality in dry years. I hiked the GDT in August 2011. The only problem is that the GDT ends in remote Mount Robson Provincial Park or even more remote Kakwa Lake Provincial Park. Hikers are still few and far between, but with more people tackling the GDT each summer, the debate comes at a critical time. Jackpine Pass and Fetherstonhaugh Pass are highlights of this section and jewels of this trek. It is one of the most spectacular and challenging long‐distance trails on the planet. Copyright © 2020 10Adventures Inc. All rights reserved. Odds of hitching a ride are better on day two. The guidebook is an excellent resource for anyone planning to hike the entire trail or only a section. A few towns along the way have restaurants and pubs that serve hot meals. This 32km side-trip leads to a classic spot of the Rockies and this touristic area may be a good bet to catch a ride back home. Some people do it in one summer while others choose to section-hike it. For that reason, there are no fixed rules or itinerary for completing it. The Great Divide Trail association is asking folks who are hiking the trail to be self sufficient and avoid re-supplying in small towns that may not have the capacity to manage an outbreak; Alberta Provincial Parks are open for day use and camping (at 50% capacity). Starting from the south early in the summer is the best bet to avoid flies as much as possible. Back then, he completed the long-distance Triple Crown by hiking the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, and Appalachian Trails — a total of almost 8,000 miles. Others want to galvanize local and federal agencies to promote and preserve it. The Great Divide Trail – An Overview. Much of the CDT requires route finding, and many thru-hikers report that they had to check their maps and compass as frequently as every fifteen minutes. The unofficial motto of the Continental Divide Trail: Embrace the Brutality. The GDT’s southern terminus is Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, right where the US’ Continental Divide Trail ends. The Basics of the Great Divide Trail This short section is on a mix of trails and forest service roads. The GDT crosses few towns, however, so trekkers will have sparse access to services such as Wi-Fi, laundromats, showers, and shops. Southern terminus: Crazy Cook Monument 2. The CDT is the longest and most rugged of America’s long-distance hiking trails. Certainly not some plucky Canadians, who're extending the long-trail concept 600 more miles into their homeland. Categories Great Divide Trail, The Hiking Life Blog Tags 12 Long Walks, Backpacking, Cam Honan, Great Divide Trail, Hiking. Trail Profile: The Great Divide Trail, 680 Miles Through the Canadian Rockies The very name “Great Divide Trail” is a bit of a misnomer, implying a walk on a cleared two-foot-wide strip of dirt. Hiking Canada's Great Divide Trail, by Dustin Lynx (Rocky Mountain Books; $21.95), is written by and for thru-hikers, but broken down into manageable sections. Contact For logistical info, packing suggestions, and trail support, visit the Great Divide Trail's website. The length depends on your itinerary, pace, and trail conditions. On May 4, Williams started walking north along the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), in Lordsburg, New Mexico, about 100 miles north of the Mexican border. It also requires more planning for food and implies a lot of backcountry camping, often with few or no people around. Bighorn sheep sun themselves above Michele Lakes (mile 410). Sit down and think back on your fantastic journey. The GDT is typically completed from south to north. It is published by Cycle Adventures in a series of 5 maps designed for mountain bikes (bicycles). Section C runs from the Kananaskis Lakes Day Use Area in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, to the town of Field, British Columbia in Yoho National Park. The CDT, alongside the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail make up the triple crown of hiking. Like many jurisdictions, reservations can only be made by Alberta residents. The distances covered each day depend on personal preference, but some days can have over 30km and 1,000m in elevation gain. Instead, this trail delivers so much more; part wilderness, part rugged equestrian and game trail, and yes, part hiking trail. Most days feature excellent views of the surrounding mountains and visits to lakes. The Great Divide Trail should be attempted between late June and mid-September. The software engineer is building a GDT app with Atlas Trail Guides and writing a coffee table book. Permit The Parks Canada Discovery Pass (free in 2017) and an Annual Wilderness Pass ($68.70 CAD) are required. No one knows for sure, because that estimate is cobbled together from Facebook group reports and wildlife agency motion sensors catching the rare mud-caked hiker in between all the cougars and grizzlies. Hiking the Great Divide Trail is not for the faint of heart and can be a challenge for even the most experienced hikers. This trail is known for its beauty and its ruggedness. There are various side-trips to choose from to lengthen the trek or get to different viewpoints. The GDT offers a fantastic immersion in the wilderness and a way to truly connect with nature. Thru-hikers turn into obsessives. “This is a hard, hard trail that takes some of the best thru-hikers in the world and humiliates them,” says Liz “Snorkel” Thomas, who hiked it in 2016. This is your hike. However, choosing that option can mean sometimes carrying a heavier backpack or having to depend on store opening hours. Like any through-hike, the Great Divide Trail requires careful planning and navigation skills. Thru-hiking the CDT is an adventure of a lifetime, but it’s not for the faint of heart. “It isn’t the kind of trail to cut your teeth on,” Taig says. Unlike the PCT, my route will cover a few hundred miles of route finding, including a next-level alternate on Wyoming's Wind River High Route. Two months and a half seems very short for 1,125 kilometres. Outlining the six major sections of the GDT, the guidebook breaks the trail into shorter, more attainable segments and thoroughly describes the terrain and condition of each. NOTE: This is a very long motorcycle/road biking trail. Also, park officials strongly recommend bear spray. Typically, purchasing an annual pass for national parks is the most cost-effective option. For starers, three ecosystems—Rocky Mountain, Pacific Northwest, Arctic—converge on the divide. To a young man who came of age here, it offers perspective on paths not taken. A GPS device with downloaded maps or even a tracklog is also a very useful tool. The region also harbors an estimated thousand grizzlies, along with moose, elk, caribou, wolves, wolverines, bobcats—and anything else that calls big wilderness home. Our previous thru hikes include the Colorado Trail in 2012, a 500-mile section of the Continental Divide Trail in 2015, a 300-mile thru hike over the Hardangervidda and Jotunheim Mountains in Norway in 2016 and a 3,000-mile thru hike of the Continental Divide Trail from Mexico to Canada in 2017. About 90% of it is on trails or tracks, while the rest is on wilderness routes. We go way deep down the rabbit hole on why polyester tents are making a comeback and are possibly the ultimate fabric for shelters, how he's able to execute on his philosophy of creating … Note that from the Kakwa Lake Trailhead, you are still a long way from civilization. Most camping sites have water either at the site or nearby. Starting at the southern terminus will also leave more time for the snow to melt in the high and snowier passes of the northern sections. They also have stores or markets, but some only sell the basics and others are off route. They want to disappear. America’s next long trail should cross the Great Plains, says the path’s pioneer, Steve Myers. Plan for a thru-hike to take about eight weeks. They aren’t looking for self-actualization or a shot at a memoir. A paw the size of a pie followed, and then I saw the shovel nose, beady eyes, and small ears confirming this was a griz, 25 yards away. As no official body recognizes the GDT, it is not marked like some other long trails, particularly the popular ones in Europe. The GDT is coming to an end. Continuing to Kakwa Lake adds about 200km of hiking to a remote area where catching a ride back south can be a problem if not previously arranged. The first part of my Great Divide Trail thru-hike from Robson to Jasper. All that makes Great Divide Trail Association Director Brad Vaillancourt optimistic about the trail’s future. Animals may be attracted by the smell of food, so protecting it is important. Staying at hotels with hot showers is also possible in seven places. The result is a labor of love set to become one of North America's most magnificent long trails. Frequently Asked Questions About the Great Divide Trail, An Extensive Guide to Big Bend National Park, The Complete Guide to Camping in the Lakes District, Zion National Park in Winter: Things to Do for Outdoor Lovers. Not only are these trail segments … Otherwise, food supplies can be purchased in some towns along the way. The Great Divide trail traces the spine of the Canadian Rockies for 746 miles, but I only needed 18 to see how wild it can be. Trekkers must do their research before starting this beautiful adventure. In 2015 alone, 4,453 hikers obtained long-distance permits for the PCT—and that’s not counting the millions who nibbled smaller sections. In the simplest terms, it’s a route that heads north from the Canadian border thru the Rocky Mountains. In early August, wildflowers erupt along the bottomlands of the Howes River (mile 346). For most of the night, I carried on jelly-legged and shouting at every bear-shaped boulder that fuzzed into the waning beam of my headlamp. Our Favourite GDT Route Some years have had less snow, which means it might be possible to hike snow-free in early June or until the end of September. It follows the Great Divide in the Rocky Mountains, weaving between Alberta and British Columbia for over 1,100km and crossing some of the most scenic parks in Canada. The Kananaskis region is famous for its views and you will enjoy them on this section. Posted on September 25, 2011 July 1, 2020 3 Comments. The GDT is in the Canadian Rockies, stretching through the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia. As it goes through five national parks and nine provincial parks, day-use passes are required for the national parks and camping fees apply for some campgrounds along the way. After miles of sublime, airy ridge walking on Jasper National Park’s Skyline Trail, I exited a tunnel of trees into a wide patch of tundra sweeping up to the fortress of 8,839-foot Mt. We have broken down the trail by section to give you an idea of what your itinerary could look like. Pikas pinballed between the rocks, and as everything went silver in fading light, I saw two dozen mountain goats freckling a brow of granite 500 feet above me. Trekkers can start from the north, but it is recommended that they start a few weeks later in the summer to allow for the snow to melt. After dinner, food should be stored high in a tree or in a bear canister, away from camp. Everyone’s a fan: After reading one of the 1.75 million copies of Wild sold and crying through the movie with Reese, your golfing uncle with the hip replacement is now planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s the highest, most remote, and, in many ways, most challenging of our National Scenic Trails. You’ll be passing through five National Parks and eight Provincial Parks, as well as wilderness areas, so you’ll need to be alert for … This section was closed in 2018 due to the forest fires. With bear spray in hand and my heart hammering, I leapfrogged another 200 yards up the trail. Anyone tackling this trek must enjoy backcountry camping. As the GDT comes of age as a life-list thru-hike, the trail’s few fanatics are split on the best way to protect the experience they all had. It was a perfect ending to my trial-size section. Few blazes, fewer trail angels: Canada’s Great Divide Trail offers a rare chance to go back in time and experience the birth of a thru-hike. The “trail” itself is incomplete; … One of the challenges of through-hiking the Great Divide Trail (or GDT) is the planning. The hiking in this section is on a mix of trails and ATV roads. The common denominators are the Rocky Mountains and the Great Divide, which separates the water that flows into the Pacific Ocean from the water that flows into Hudson Bay. Summer is also bear season as they come out to feast on berries and insects. The right way to end a through-hike like this one is to get a hot shower and celebrate! This year, I will attempt my third epic-length hike: The … It stretches roughly 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada, paralleling the Continental Divide the whole way. “I have mixed feelings about this,” she says. The Great Divide Trail is not officially designated and not always even an actual trail, sometimes merely a wilderness route, … The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is a dirt route from Canada to Mexico. Like any through-hike, there are two possible directions. 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