From July 8 to August 15, 2022, my hiking partner “Wyoming” and I hiked the 1,123 kilometer Great Divide Trail, from the U.S. border at Glacier and Waterton National Parks, along the Rockies, to Kakwa Lake near Prince George.
This was the most beautiful trail per day that we’ve ever hiked. Breathtaking scenery was the norm. It was also one of the most difficult established trails in several respects.
The planning was intimidating. I normally prefer trails where I can start at one end and largely wing it, walking as far as I reasonably can each day and camping at the first good site at the end of the day. A GDT thru-hike must be planned far in advance. I nearly chose to opt out of the whole hike because of the planning headache, but Wyoming stepped up and booked all our sites for us. If at all possible book all of your campsites the very first moments when the permit reservations open up. This link is extremely useful for picking a hiking schedule, because you WILL need to schedule and stick pretty close to your plan. That said, there will be many nights where random camping is allowed.
There are many river crossings on this hike. We got lucky and didn’t have any serious problems. If the water is high you’ll need prior river crossing experience combined with good judgment.
We found our average daily miles were considerably lower that trails like the Pacific Crest or Continental Divide. It’s nice to have some built in time for a buffer too for all the little things that can slow you down: late packages, minor injuries, etc. The planning guide linked above is an excellent template, especially if you’ve hiked enough to know if you’re relatively fast, slow or average.
A gear list from a trail like the CDT should work well. You’ll definitely want bug repellent and an excellent camera! Please check out my Youtube video of the hike!