At 14,271 feet, Quandary Peak is the highest summit in Colorado’s Tenmile Range. Quandary Peak’s East Ridge is an excellent introduction to hiking Colorado’s fourteeners because of the trail’s relatively short, nontechnical route and the trailhead’s proximity to Denver and Breckenridge.
Despite Quandary’s manageable elevation gain and hike length, the summit has world-class views of the Mosquito, Gore, and Sawatch ranges. On a clear day the summit views are downright magical.
Quandary Peak is located about 7.6 miles south of Breckenridge in the White River National Forest. From the trailhead, the East Ridge route climbs for the first mile along a forested jeep road before revealing the south face of the peak’s ridge. Here the trail continues across rugged talus before becoming considerably steeper after about 2.3 miles. The final summit push involves some scrambling over loose talus before leveling out to reveal the summit.
When the trail is relatively snow-free in the summer and fall, hiking boots and poles should suffice, and gaiters are recommended for the trail's loose talus. During late fall and winter, snowshoes or crampons could be a good idea depending on the snowpack and conditions. However, Quandary's East Ridge is a nontechnical Class I mountaineering experience that doesn't require equipment.
Throughout the hike, the trail is intuitive and marked with cairns when boot tracks are fainter. The trail can be crowded on weekends. Go early for a higher likelihood of solitude. Be sure to look for mountain goats, which can be seen on nearby ridges. Re-trace your steps to descend back down the East Ridge, and after conquering 3,300 feet of elevation gain in just over 3.4 miles, remember that you can find some delicious food and cold beverages in nearby Breckenridge.
Conservation Colorado has worked with communities around the state for over 50 years in pursuit of our mission - to protect Colorado’s environment and quality of life by mobilizing people and electing conservation-minded policymakers. We fight to protect the air, land, water, and people of Colorado. Our collaborative approach and focus on electing pro-conservation officials has yielded successes in addressing climate change, supporting clean energy development, conserving water resources, and protecting our public wildlands and rivers. These priority issues, and the incredible natural resources of our state, inspire our motto - The Future is Worth the Fight.