Continental Divide Trail Coalition Celebrates 10 Years of Uniting the Divide

By Allie Ghaman, Communications Manager, Continental Divide Trail Coalition

As the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) celebrates 10 years of cooperative stewardship in partnership with the communities and landscapes of the Divide, we have a great opportunity to pause on our trek, take a water break, and reflect on how far we’ve come — and to look forward to the path ahead!

CDTC was founded in 2012 when friends and employees from the former Continental Divide Trail Alliance, which had lately dissolved, decided to join together to form a new organization to continue to grow the cooperative stewardship of the Continental Divide between different government agencies and other stakeholders. Around a living room table on New Year’s Eve, the friends wanted to reimagine what a trail organization could be. In a deliberate departure from prior management methods, the group, including Teresa Martinez (current Executive Director of CDTC), Bryan Martin, Kerry Shakarjian, and Josh Shusko, chose to form a decentralized coalition that emphasized community-driven stewardship over top-down institutionalism, and that designed the organization around four central pillars: Stewardship, Community Engagement, Trail Information and Outreach, and Organizational Governance.

In those early days, with the trail only 68% complete on public lands, a single CDTC trail maintenance project, and only 25 people attempting a thruhike of the CDT annually, the organizational landscape that the young Coalition was entering was vastly different from present day. In 2022, the trail is now 95% complete, and closer than ever with the introduction of the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act in the House of Representatives last year, and the recent passage of the proposal from the House in the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act The trail will also see at least 500 to 600 hikers attempting a thruhike this year, and a record 15 planned trail maintenance projects, as well as adopter trainings and new Gateway Community volunteer projects.

As CDTC has grown rapidly in tandem with the popularity of the CDT, even during the pandemic, maintaining programs that are central to our core values has been instrumental in ensuring that growth has been sustainable, equitable, and future-focused. Hearkening to the foundational four pillars for CDTC has allowed us to stay close to the heart of our mission, even as we explore new ways in which a nimble, young organization can play a role in both local and national conservation efforts. As CDTC looks ahead to the next decade of our mission, we hope to strategize our next moves in an ever-shifting ecological and social landscape, and to retain those critical goals outlined around a kitchen table, which allow CDTC to remain firm in stewardship and accountability to the communities we serve.

Learn more about the 10th Anniversary at