Continental Divide Trail Logistics
The Carson Continental Divide Epic is quite possibly the longest, most spectacular section of ride-able single track on the entire Continental Divide Trail. It shares much of its route with the Chama Charmer, but rather than bail onto roads for a 32-mile spin to Ojo Caliente, the full Epic keeps you on the high mesas before descending Martinez Canyon to the trailhead on Hwy 84.
Whichever you choose, Shuttle Taos can provide the logistics support you need to make your multi-day epic a breeze.
Choose Your Adventure
All of the glory, less of the pain.
How it works:
- You load our trailer up with your tents, chairs, equipment, and cold beer.
- We drive the trailer to one of the 3 campgrounds strategically placed 20-25 miles along the Carson Continental Divide Epic.
- You arrive at that camp after a glorious day of riding and collect your gear out of the trailer, ready to live LARGE.
- The next morning, you pack everything back in the trailer and head down the trail without a care in the world — and with very little weight on your bike.
Maximum effort, maximum reward.
We get it… You love the freedom of having everything on your bike. You’ve considered each ounce, cut the handles off your toothbrush, and got your custom-made frame bag organized after agonizing over whether to pack one spare tube or two.
You’re ready to take over the world, and we’re here to help.
We can run you a shuttle in whatever configuration you need to make your Continental Divide Trail adventure a success.
We can even bring you a spare tube if you need it.
About The Carson Continental Divide Epic
We recommend tackling the Carson Continental Divide Epic from north to south, but honestly, either way, it is a beautiful thing. In this direction, there are 3,000 more feet of descending than climbing, but it’s all fairly evenly distributed — except for the “10 Miles of Smiles Climb” out of Vallecito.
Re-routed over the last 10 years by a mountain biker, the Carson Continental Divide Epic is 90% trail, 10% forest road, 0.01% pavement, and 110% fun. The climbs are approachable, the descends enjoyable, and the scenery takes in the best of northern New Mexico.
Section 1: Cumbres Pass to Lagunitas Lakes
24.5 mi | 2750 ft climbing | 2500 ft descending
Starting from Cumbres Pass, the trail heads south of the highway switch-backing through the trees up to a ridgeline high above the Chama valley. The Colorado-New Mexico border is three miles in. As the trail cuts through the forest, it winds around some interesting rock outcroppings great for elk-spotting before hitting a wide-open section of river valleys and rolling grassy hills. The final ridge above Cruces Basin Wilderness is epic and also terrifying in a lightning storm. It also marks the start of the downhill roll into Lagunitas Lakes Campground.
Camping: Lagunitas Lakes Campground is primitive, but popular among fishermen. Sites on the ridgeline have more privacy, but more difficult access to the lakes.
Section 2: Lagunitas Lakes to Hopewell Lake
19.5 mi | 1900 ft climbing | 2300 ft descending
The highlight of this ride is the ridgeline above San Antonio Creek, roughly 6 miles south of Lagunitas. The cliff-edge trail provides a sublime view into the valley below — the valley you are about to descend into, before climbing back out of on one of the more challenging ascents. The rolling meadows as you approach Jawbone Mountain have a distinctive wild-west feel. Look for flocks of turkeys in the tree lines.
Camping: Hopewell Lake Campground has running water and vault toilets. It’s a short ride up the trail from Hopewell Lake but is situated on the edge of a lovely meadow.
Section 3: Hopewell Lake to Canjilon Lakes
23.5 mi | 3000 ft climbing
This section has some of the more challenging segments of riding on the trip. Between the long technical descent to Vallecito Creek, and the even longer 10-mile climb back out, you’ll be worked. Hard. But the mountain top meadows and cool mixed conifer forests will quickly help you to forget your exhaustion.
Camping: Canjilon Lakes Campground is a developed campground with multiple spots available. Can get busy on the weekends.
Section 4: Canjilon Lakes to US 84 (Echo Amphitheater)
26+ mi | 2000 ft climbing | 3500 ft descending
This is it… the final leg of your epic journey. From a high of 10,100ft to an ending low of 7,000ft, this segment takes you from endless alpine meadows, through mixed-conifer forests and ponderosa parklands to the pinyon-juniper deserts and arroyos. The trail ends unceremoniously at the highway, but a few more mile on pavement takes you to Echo Amphitheater or Ghost Ranch.
Camping: Echo Amphitheater has a developed campground, while Ghost Ranch (if available) has nicer amenities.
The Chama Charmer Option
For those who prefer to round off their epic single-track with a 32+ mile gravel/pavemet grind to an upscale hot springs resort at Ojo Caliente, the Chama Charmer is just the ticket. 3 miles into Section 4 above, instead of continuing on the CDT the Chama Charmer route follows the road down Canyon Largo to the town of El Rito and on to Ojo Caliente where you can soak your bones in their mineral pools.
We don’t judge. We just help you maximize either route.
Frequently Asked Questions
Any time between snow-melt and snow-fall. The higher elevation keeps the trial cool all summer long. However, the best time of year to ride this trail is from the middle of September through the middle of October after the monsoons have passed and the aspen leaves are popping.
This is a cross-country single-track trail interspersed with a few double-track roads. We recommend a cross-country bike or trail bike but some folks are just as comfortable on gravel/touring bikes. While there are only a few technical rock-garden sections, it is a long, often rough trail, so you’ll be happier with some suspension.
As long as you want! I mean, the whole things goes from Canada to Mexico, but the section we service is ~95 miles all told.
We’re here for you. There are multiple places you can bail out if you have a mechanical, or just get tired of riding. (There will be an additional fee for unscheduled rescues.)
We don’t like to play favorites, but if forced to, we’d pick the section between Lagunitas Lakes and Hopewell Lake. It is only slightly more awesome than Cumbres Pass to Lagunitas.
Almost certainly. Let’s talk.
Absolutely! We understand and wholly embrace that some folks just love to do things the hard way. We’re some of those folks. Whether you’re backpacking, bike-packing, or tackling the whole thing in one day, we’ve got your transportation and logistics dialed.
Sorry, no. The latest National Forest policy does not allow the use of e-bikes on non-motorized trails. That being said, there are parallel routes that remain on motorized roads. Contact us if you’d like to explore these options.
That’s largely a matter of taste. Do you like to maximize single-track time? Or prefer to let your inner-roadie whisk you away to steaming hot pools of bliss? Either way, we’re here for you.
Continental Divide Booking Policies
- Bookings require a 20% deposit.
- Full payment due 14 days before trip start.
- Cancellations within 7-13 days of trip start will be refunded less 50% of total cost.
- No refunds are given for cancellations within 1 week of the trip start date.