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Quandary Peak

Difficult
 4.4 (121) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A popular and easy 14er just outside Breckenridge.


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Map Key

6.4

Miles

10.3

KM

Loop

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.

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. (NOTE: 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).

There is a parking lot just to the right. Although it is not the official Quandary Peak parking, it is a good option. To get to the actual trailhead: from here things become pretty apparent - just drive a hundred yards before turning right onto 851, shortly after which there should be a large parking lot with trailhead signs and a latrine. Overflow parking should remain along the side of 851, and not 850, as the residents of this area see enough traffic and don't deserve to have their driveways blocked.

From the TH off 851, walk up the road to a clearly marked trail, 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 hike. 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

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 121 votes

#1

in Blue River

#19

Overall
  4.4 from 121 votes
5 Star
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1 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in Blue River

#10

in Colorado

#19

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Photos

A couple takes a nice rest among the wildflowers before the final ascent to Quandary Peak.
Jul 9, 2017 near Brecken…, CO
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
on Quandary Peak Trail
Jul 24, 2019 near Brecken…, CO
Upper Blue Lake and the spillway sit peacefully below the Continental Divide.
Jul 9, 2017 near Brecken…, CO
Bask in the gorgeous views of North Star Mountain from the ridge on Quandary Peak.
Feb 2, 2017 near Brecken…, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Oct 18, 2020
Shireen B
Beautiful fall weather and windy. Just did a portion of the trail.
Oct 14, 2020
Dan Hanson
Oct 11, 2020
Chris R
Snow storm started on the way up
Oct 9, 2020
Mike Amolsch
Satisfaction overload but super hard! Great day with Joe. Took our time, straight up/straight down! Struggled a bit but survived - no goats on our day 10mi
Oct 3, 2020
Kevin C
John Tzen can save his comments for his Facebook page. Great hike. Hard. Summit was fantastic. 7mi — 5h 25m
Sep 26, 2020
Tessie Yu Dysam
Sep 24, 2020
Dan T
7.3mi — 6h 13m
Sep 18, 2020
Hiker Trash
Nice hike. Got there around 6:45 am on a Friday with perfect weather. Was plenty of parking available in the lower lot. Good entry level 14,000 hike.