GDT – The Great Divide Trail and CDT – Continental Great Divide Trail

GDT – The Great Divide Trail and CDT – Continental Great Divide Trail

The Great Divide Trail is the Canadian portion of the Continental Divide Trail. The Continental Divide Trail or CDT is 3,100 miles long and stretches from Canada to Mexico.  It snakes across five states along the backbone of the USA. The CDN connects rugged, open spaces like the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico, the San Juans in Colorado, the Wind River Range in Wyoming, the Big Hole in Idaho and the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana.

The Great Divide Trail or GDT begins inWaterton Lakes National Park at the Canada-US border (where it connects with the Continental Divide Trail) and ends in Kakwa Provincial Park north of Jasper National Park.

Great Divide Trail Map

Great Divide Trail Map- Canadian Rocky Mountain Route (Used with permisiion and adapted from

The GDT is not officially recognized by Parks Canada and therefore is not signed and not always even an actual trail, sometimes merely a wilderness route. The GDT passes through five National Parks: Waterton Lakes, Banff, Kootenay, Yoho and Jasper; seven Provincial Parks: Akamina-Kishinena, Elk Lakes, Peter Lougheed, Height of the Rockies, Mount Assiniboine, Mount Robson and Kakwa; four wilderness areas: Beehive Natural Area, Kananaskis Country, White Goat Wilderness and Willmore Wilderness Area; and five forest districts: Castle, Bow/Crow, Cranbrook, Golden and Robson Valley.

Northover Ridge in Kananaskis

I found interesting information on Northover Ridge from a couple of websites. I am hoping to complete the backpacking trip sometime and am adding Northover Ridge information as I find it.  View part one of this Best Hike in Canada series.

Here is the best free description about the Northover Ridge Backpacking trip.

The following two images are from the above url.

Mount Northover

From we have this excerpt:

This Regular cache is located at the Northern extent to Northover ridge on the Defender Mountain Mount Northover Col.

Club group dayhikes the Northover Ridge route, finishing two hours after sunset.

When the guidebooks use words like “operatic vistas,” “affords an ecstatic sense of exploration,” and “sustained high-elevation route” (Copeland and Copeland), or “magnificent” and “best . . . trip in K-country” (Daffern) along with “thrill ride,” “alarmingly steep,” “shoulder-width and outer space airy,” (Copeland and Copeland), “scree slopes poised above cliffs,” “tightrope of scree and shattered rock,” “slopes plunging over 1200 m,” and “vertigo-inducing” (Daffern), you know you want to go there, but you’re not sure you should. Northover Ridge is for experienced and self-confident hikers…

Here is a quote from one of the guided trip itineraries at the Canadian Rockies Hiking website.

“Day 2: Kananaskis Lakes – Three Isle Lake
We will pick you up after breakfast, deal with last minute gear issues and food packing then drive to the trailhead (1hour) along the spectacular Smith-Dorrien highway to the south of Canmore. The trail leads us first around the Upper Kananaskis Lake then into the forests following the Kananaskis River. After reaching the Forks, we continue to hike up the Three Isle headwall to camp for the night at Three Isle Lake (2175m.). Distance 10km. Elevation gain 300m.

On Northover Ridge

Day 3: Day hike to Northover Ridge
We are never far from treeline now and the scenery begins to expand exponentially as we rapidly gain height above the Lake carrying only light packs. From Northover Ridge (2800m.) and west into the Royal Group and beyond. Distance 10km. Elevation gain 600m, loss 600m.

Day 4: Three Isle – Turbine Canyon
Today is pass crossing day and the most challenging we face! After breakfast we make our way to the Continental Divide at South Kananaskis Pass (2306m) and cross into British Columbia. Passing Beatty Lake we contour into Leroy Creek on rough trails to re-cross the continental divide at North Kananaskis Pass (2368m) where we can stop to enjoy the views surrounding Maude Lake. Another 2km and we arrive at Turbine Canyon. Distance 14.2km. Elevation gain 730m., loss 650m.

Day 5: Turbine Canyon – Forks Campground
Turbine Canyon Camp (2200m) sits on a bench near treeline above the confluence of Maude Brook and the Upper Kananaskis River, it is named after the impressive and narrow canyon just downstream from the campsite. The views are tremendous and it’s also a great place to do a side trip. After a leisurely morning spent exploring this fascinating area we hike across the meadows to Lawson Lake and then it’s all downhill as we descend to the Upper Kananaskis River valley bottom and Forks campground. Distance 7.8km. Elevation loss 400m.”

Northover Ridge pictures here.

Mount Northover is located on the border of Alberta and British Columbia on the Continental Divide. It was named in 1917 after Northover, Lieutenant A.W.[1][2]

Mount Northover located at 50°34′57″N115°00′58″W

Here is an excerpt from

At an elevation of 2,591 m (8,500′) on the Continental Divide, the unnamed col provides a clear view of the next objective, the col (grid ref. 242054) just west of the summit of Mt. Northover. The trail is well-defined, but even when it is snow-covered, the route is obvious. Northover col (2,804 m (9,200′) is the start of the highest maintained hiking trail in the Canadian Rockies, and for the next 2.5 km the route is right on the divide. To begin, head left from the col and scramble up a short scree slope to find the first cairn on the ridge. The ridge is comfortably wide at the beginning, but it gradually narrows as you approach the high point. The drop-off to the Palliser valley is quite precipitous, but I wouldn’t rate any part of the route as exposed. However, there are one or two points where one must be cautious; it would be easy to lose one’s footing due to the strong winds that often sweep the ridge.

The high point, at 2,845 m (9,332′), offers spectacular views in all directions, especially of the Royal Group, Mt. Joffre, Three Isle Lake and Mt. Sir Douglas. This picture from the guide was taken from near the summit, looking back to Mt. Northover (centre-left skyline) and the glaciated north face of Mt. Joffre (right skyline). There are some excellent pictures of the Northover Ridge trip onBennett Wong’s site.

Here is another Northover Ridge intinerary and very good warnings etc from a calgary backpacking club:
Northover Ridge is described as the best hike in Kananaskis! The trip will be just over 32 km (20 mi) long with an elevation gain of ~1180 m (3871 ft). This trip will be technically difficult and extremely strenuous – NOT FOR BEGINNERS!!! There have been fatalities on this route and I don’t want to add to the statistics. Be sure to read the COMPLETE event description CAREFULLY before signing up. I would also urge you to look at Illustrated Hikes of the Canadian Rockies to see if this event is appropriate for your ability and fitness level.
Read the full itinerary here: