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Quandary Peak

Difficult
 4.4 (148) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A popular and easy 14er just outside Breckenridge.


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Map Key

6.4

Miles

10.3

KM

55%

Runnable

14,184' 4,323 m

High

11,006' 3,355 m

Low

3,169' 966 m

Up

3,178' 969 m

Down

19%

Avg Grade (11°)

87%

Max Grade (41°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The multitude of mountain goats on this mountain provides a dangerous distraction for curious dogs, so leashes might actually be a good idea on this one.

Overview

Quandary Peak is one of the easiest and most accessible Fourteeners in Colorado. Just 20 minutes from downtown Breckenridge and around 2 hours from Denver, the trailhead can be reached by any 2WD car. Unlike many other 14ers, a summit of Quandary does not require driving over any sketchy mountain passes.

Need to Know

While an easy 14er, Quandary Peak is still an undertaking for the average person. Bring sun protection and plenty of water! Expect 1.5-2 hrs for fast trail runners and 4-6 hrs for the average hiker.

Note: Even though land management says dogs are to be leashed, you'll see many dogs and few leashes.

Runner Notes

This route is almost entirely class 1 and thus provides a fun and attainable summit for ambitious trail runners. As a matter of fact, there is an annual "Quandary Crusher" race up this mountain every summer.

Hopefully you enjoy talus fields, as everything above treeline (~11,800 ft) is rocky, loose, and/or tumbling. It makes for quite fancy footwork on the descent! The climb is always worth it. Enjoy the spectacular views of the Tenmile Range on the summit, as well as Mt. Baldy across the way.

Breaking above treeline you climb the stone staircase that was made for giants and embrace the burning sensation.

Once you get to about 13,100' there is a nice 'flat' part of the ridgeline that doesn't last long enough. Your eyes will be drawn to the seriously steep push up to the summit while traversing this bench. This next part will have your heart racing and legs screaming, but once you see the summit.... You'll see

Description

From Breckenridge, drive south on CO 9 for 8 miles. Turn right onto the Blue Lakes Road (850). This can be fairly tricky to find: it's immediately before a sharp left turn on a switchback headed up Hoosier Pass, just as the grade gets steep. Map link to the parking lot can be found here - w3w.co/leaner.transitions.c…

NOTE:
1 - There is a different trailhead for Quandary, right off CO 9 and closer to Breckenridge. It is better marked but its trail is less often traveled due to steeper grades.
2 - As of July 30, 2021 you *must* purchase a parking pass (half- day or full day) in advance in order to park here. There is no cell signal from the parking lot, so purchase your pass up to 14 days in advance from this site - Parkquandary.com
3 - If you don't want to pay to park (or reservations are full) You can utilize the Quandary Peak shuttle which is free and will operate from the Breckenridge Airport Road Lot from 5:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., 7 days a week and will run every 30 minutes.

There is a parking lot just to the right. To get to the actual trailhead: from here things become pretty apparent

From the parking lot, there is a large sign indicating a short hiking path that will take you from the lot to a dirt road (CO851). Turn right and walk up the road to the clearly marked TrailHead (just opposite a very small parking lot), heading west nearly parallel to the road. The trail is clear, easy, and relatively low grade. In about 0.3 miles there is a large boulder to the right of the trail. Turn right around it. The trail is clear during the summer months, but in the event that it is covered with snow it's easy to miss this turn. After gaining about 700 vertical ft, you'll start to pass through some clearings, some of which are fairly flat, at 11,300'. The trail crosses some abandoned mining roads, but clear signs should keep confusion to a minimum.

At 11,700' the trees become sparse. The ridge pops into view around 11,800'. The trail brings you along the left side of the ridge. Follow the switchbacks up towards the ridge proper, which you should reach at around 12,400'. From here the summit is visible and it's more or less impossible to get lost. At 13,100', angle left along some flats to stay on the ridge. From here the trail gets rockier but is still clear; the grade gets steeper but is still manageable. At 13,400' ft trail stops switchbacking and heads more or less straight up until you hit the 14k' mark. From here, continue up along the summit ridge and celebrate!

Flora & Fauna

You'll find yourself above tree line for the vast majority of this run. While the wildflowers aren't that remarkable, the overly friendly mountain goats and marmots are. For those unfamiliar with the former, mountain goats are sodium-deprived brutes and will go to great lengths to acquire any salty fluid, including drinking any human or dog urine they come across.

History & Background

Quandary Peak, while lumped in with the Mosquito Range Fourteeners, is the only 14er truly in the Tenmile Range. It is consistently one of the most crowded routes every summer.

Contacts

Shared By:

Matthew Coye with improvements by Joe Carpenter

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 148 votes

#1

in Blue River

#25

Overall
  4.4 from 148 votes
5 Star
53%
4 Star
36%
3 Star
9%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Blue River

#10

in Colorado

#25

Overall
479 Views Last Month
56,916 Since Mar 19, 2015
Difficult

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16%
11%
71%
1%

Photos

A happy goat admires the views from the Quandary Peak Trail.
Jul 9, 2017 near Brecken…, CO
A curious mother mountain goat, baby in tow, chilling right on the trail. These creatures won't hesitate to check you out.
Mar 2, 2015 near Brecken…, CO
Bask in the gorgeous views of North Star Mountain from the ridge on Quandary Peak.
Feb 2, 2017 near Brecken…, CO
Upper Blue Lake and the spillway sit peacefully below the Continental Divide.
Jul 9, 2017 near Brecken…, CO
Looking back from the ridge-line prior to the final ascent.
Jun 25, 2016 near Brecken…, CO
Top of the world from the Quandary Peak Trail.
Dec 8, 2016 near Brecken…, CO

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Check-Ins

Oct 18, 2021
Jordan G
Beautiful! Getting snowier/icier. Bring traction devices. 7mi — 5h 30m
Sep 3, 2021
Brit Kocman
Not what I would call the "easiest" 14er; Bierstadt is easier to me based on steepness of the trail. Perfect break in weather and amazing views! 6.6mi — 3h 12m
Sep 14, 2020
Matt H
6.4mi — 1h 50m
Jul 9, 2020
Matthew Hawley
My first fourteener. Crowded but worth the effort.
Jun 20, 2020
Emma H-p
Do not go up on a weekend. Took about 20 min to aclimate and there was an unavoidable traffic jam the second half of the hike. 10.3mi — 6h 18m
Aug 30, 2019
Andrew Sharpe
Aug 12, 2019
Levi Perigo
1.5 hours to summit
Jun 1, 2019
clement Berujon
2h 40m