Quandary Peak Trail

HARD 1,042 reviews

Quandary Peak Trail is a 6.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Breckenridge, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
6.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,339 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

Note this is a difficult, but rewarding hike. Please prepare before embarking on this hike to the peak which is at 14,265 ft elevation. Though challenging, this is a popular and doable, heavily trafficked route. Because of that, the best and up-to-date information can be seen the reviews from users who have just traveled this route. Quandary's east ridge route gets very crowded on summer weekends.

hiking
2 days ago

Climbed yesterday (9/16) and started at 05:49. Wasn’t sure of what to expect, since one of the reviews really bashed the mountain. There was a 20 deg F change in temperature and a wind that started in the last ~200 yards from the peak. The total hike took us 6 hours 1.5 minutes. One person in our party had to stop every 10 feet due to the altitude. Bring a hat, gloves and a warm jacket for the top, headlamp or flashlight for the start.
Pros: The views were great, Aspens were in full color, saw a fox right before we started and two mountain goats on the way down.
Cons: The scree field was long; coming down wreaked havoc on the knees.

3 days ago

Did this hike yesterday 9/16 and it was my fourth 14er. It was by far the hardest one I’ve done. We stared at 415 am and finished by noon. It took way longer than I thought it would, but it was the last part up to the summit that killed me with the steepness. I feel like the views were actually pretty awesome compared to what I’ve read on other reviews, especially since the aspens are changing and it’s beautiful. The rocks are pretty tough to walk and navigate on and I busted my butt probably 5 or 6 times on the way down, so take it slow. It was worth the challenge though! Also, it was very windy and cold at the summit so bring plenty of layers and gloves

4 days ago

First fourteener! Did this a week ago on a Saturday. Got there at 7:30. Plenty of parking. Consistent people brought it the whole hike. Some brought dogs. Be smart, don’t take a dog here that can’t handle it. Same thing for kids. From the saddle up to the top we were stuck by a group with a young child who was crying that she didn’t want to go any further. The mother literally had to pick the kid up and carry her for a few sections. Be a better parent. Don’t subject your kid or others to this.

That said, the views were outstanding, and there are many places in nearby Breckenridge for the requisite beer after. I would definitely go back.

hiking
5 days ago

Perfect day for our 1st 14er. Not too, cold not windy, sunshine and not a cloud in the sky! Parked at 6am and summited in 3 hours! We saw Pikas and chipmunks but not mountain goat.

6 days ago

Loved this hike!! The views at the top are incredible! We were slightly intimidated since so many people were starting so early....we started at 7:30 and made it to the summit in about 2.5 hours but we hike faster than some. It’s a pretty slow-going hike for the last 1.5 miles so just expect to go slow cause you have to watch your footing and it gets pretty busy. Bring plenty of water and wear good hiking shoes. We got back to the bottom just after noon and we’re glad we did because we heard thunder as we got to the parking lot. We saw two mountain goats on the trail which was probably the best part of the hike!

hiking
7 days ago

Perfect bluebird day. Golden fall leaves. Trail in amazingly good condition. Took almost 4 hours to summit; longer than expected. Few people on the trail. Great views, saw mountain goat and cute baby goat only a few yards away on descent.

hiking
9 days ago

This was my first 14er. The trail was less difficult than I thought it would be, but I certainly wouldn't call it easy by any means. We arrived at the trailhead at 6 AM and were back to the car by noon. I took a few breaks going up and a 30 minute lunch break on the way down. Given that it was very crowded even when arriving by 6, I'd recommend buying headlamps and starting at 4 AM.

Pack for all weather conditions. As you ascend up the mountain the temperature drops significantly. By the time you are at the peak, it is incredibly cold and windy. I had multiple layers that I could peel off or put on if needed. I also brought gloves, a hat, something to cover my ears and a poncho. I didn't end up needing the poncho luckily. I would also strongly recommend bringing tissues. My nose ran the entire time going up due to how cold it was.

Altitude sickness was something else I worried about, but I was fine. That might be because I had time to acclimate. I live in Denver and we spent two days in Estes Park (7500 ft) and then a day in Breck (9600 ft) prior to the hike. I brought plenty of water in case I started having issues, but I ended up not drinking most of it.

Overall, I'm really glad I did this. It was a great experience although it wasn't the prettiest hike (which is why I am giving this 4 stars instead of 5 - scenery is an important aspect of hiking for me). The majority of the hike I found myself staring at the loose rock I was trying to navigate through. Due to how rocky this trail is, proper hiking shoes are a must. I'd recommend bringing poles if you have them. I didn't and I would have loved having them coming down from the peak. It was quite rough on my ankles. Regardless, I still highly recommend this trail!

hiking
10 days ago

We had a bit of trouble finding the trailhead because Waze took us to the wrong place, so we had to start driving back towards Breck until we had enough service to load a map and figure it out. When we got to the trailhead, we saw 2 moose while we were driving up! Started hiking at 8:30, and different members of our group of 7 summited between 10:45 and 11:35. Wasn't as crowded as I expected, but lots of people on the last bit near the top. LOTS of loose rock. Not so bad going up (although tiring) but it was a huge pain going down - I rolled my ankle (luckily nothing serious), another person fell, and there were a lot of close calls. Saw (and heard) lots of pikas, and we saw three mountain goats, all very close to the trail. 5/7 of us finished at 1:36, the last two followed 20 minutes later. They were doing construction on the trail at several points but you were just directed to walk through it and stay on trail - it felt like more of an inconvenience to the workers than to us.

This was my second 14er and I struggled a lot more on Bierstadt than this one, although I think that mainly just had to do with my reaction to altitude. Great hike, definitely worth it!

hiking
11 days ago

12 days ago

The views at the top are more than worth it, but you’ve got to work for it! We started this trail at 5:45 AM when it was still relatively dark. Note that there are two lots for the trail, the second one is the one that is closest to the actual trail, lower lot you’ve got to walk. You’ll see tons of people. First forest part is a steady incline but nothing unmanageable. Leaves are starting to change here, so take it in! About 2 miles in, the trail gets much rockier and steeper, as you ascend above tree line. The views throughout the whole hike are exceptional, it’s neat to see how far you’ve climbed by looking at the lot and two lakes. The last part is nothing short of BRUTAL, with an incredible steep and scrambly incline to the top. Plenty of places to stop and rest though, as you and every other hiker on the trail will be doing that. We summited at 8:20 and we’re back to the car at 11:30, after stopping at the top for 20 minutes to take in the FABULOUS views. The top was crowded by 8:40, so the earlier the better! The top is COLD and windy, but the descend will have you directly facing the sun, so pack many layers, a lot of water and gloves/hat for warmth! You’ll also encounter trail restoration volunteers on the way down, making the trail accessible to all! Hiking boots strongly suggested, as this hike takes a beating to your knees and those with wobbly ankles. To compare to Mt. Bierstadt, we found it to be MUCH rockier throughout but overall better views.

hiking
13 days ago

This review is for all you East Coast people out there who feel confident that you can hike a 14ner....this is NOT what you think it's going to be. Such an amazing hike and my boyfriend and I made it to about 300 yards from the summit but the weather started to change and the elevation was hitting us hardcore. The views are beautiful and the trail wasn't very hard to follow considering it was all rock. We saw two mountain goats and so many pikas! First experience with real elevation but we made it to 14,020 ft so that was good enough for me. Highly recommend but no 14ner is a beginner 14ner for people coming from sea level! Be careful people, elevation sickness is real and we learned the hard way.

hiking
16 days ago

Our first 14er and an amazing experience! Nothing about this (or any 14er) is easy, though. Steep from start to finish! We are in-shape locals who hike 10-16 miles every weekend and we still found this hike brutal. Also, it’s 12 miles round trip, not 6. Some tips:
1) Start before 6am due to weather and limited parking. We claimed the last parking spot Saturday at 5:45am when we started, then summited at 9:30am and were down by noon. 6hrs 20mins total but altitude affects everyone differently. Some people take 3hrs, others take 11. Assume you’ll take a long time so that you’re down by noon, latest.
2) Wear layers (including raincoat, and winter hat & gloves)
3) Pack EVERYTHING the experts recommend for a 14er. There are some great lists out there. Do your research and get it all. We used our headlamps, first aid kit, Advil, snacks, Gatorade and other things we weren't sure we'd need. Don’t forget your sign for the picture at the top! A CamelBak style pack saves the time you’d waste fumbling with water bottles, and is well worth it.
4) Pack 3 liters of water per person to lower the chances of altitude sickness. We only used 3 liters between the two of us, but everyone is different.
5) Know and listen to the signs of altitude sickness. Increasingly bad headache = abort mission and turn back.
6) Check the weather ahead of time for Quandary Peak (not for Breckenridge). Use hiking-specific apps like Windy, Climbing Weather, & Barometer & Altimeter. Check the mountain -forecast dotcom website beforehand. Quandary Peak is shale, aka an electrical conductor and treacherous in a storm.
7) Poles & boots are a must if you have even slightly bad knees or back (and I have both). Above treeline, the trail consists of loose rock that is VERY easy to slip on. I slipped 10x and fell 3x, busting my elbow in the process. It's because I was wearing trail running shoes when I should have been wearing hiking boots, and it was also because my legs started to give out from fatigue. If I didn't have those hiking poles, I would have fallen 10x. Alot of people feel that coming down is much harder than going up.
8) For the safety of all animals and people, leash your dog! Mountain goats are often aggressive towards dogs. Also, if your dog startles a child, that child could fall off a very dangerous spot. And put booties on your dog to prevent their paws getting cut up from that sharp terrain.
9) Leave the small children at home. This hike is not appropriate for them at all because it’s way too steep and the risk of altitude sickness is substantial. We even saw older kids getting sick from the altitude.
10) Plan to pee in front of strangers because there’s no cover. Do it off the trail, as the salt in urine attracts mountain goats.
11) Plan on crowds. This peak gets 500+ visitors every weekend.
12) The last portion of this climb is a bitch on wheels. There’s a saddle at 13,000’ and once you pass that, you hit the hardest part of the hike, the hike from 13,000’ up to 14,265’. I could only take 7-10 steps at a time before stopping to gasp for air…the whooooole way.
13) Like always, uphill still gets the right of way, but uphill hikers, be sensitive to the fact that downhillers are dealing with totally shot legs, wobbly knees, and a high chance of falling. We were fortunate in that the uphillers timed their stops for air with our downhill passing, and vice versa. Everyone played nicely, and everyone won.
It was a life changing experience, and I’m still riding high from it 3 days later! Just do your homework and go prepared!

17 days ago

Difficult trail but the views at the top are absolutely amazing! Be sure to start early since storms usually roll in in the afternoon. The trail was about 6.4 miles from the East trail head. We were able to do the trail in 5 hrs.

17 days ago

Awesome view! Last 1/2mi is hardest. My first 14er. Weather can change quickly in early sept.

hiking
19 days ago

Started at 6am, plenty of parking and not much traffic on the way up the trail. Began heading down right before 9am. Lots of large groups today that were slow to move aside. Great views even with storms looming. Definitely a good beginner 14er!

hiking
20 days ago

Quandary was a great hike and the weather (Thurs Aug 30) was superb. Drove right up to the trailhead around 11:15am (plenty of parking) and started at 11:20 with my pup. Only saw a handful of people (which was preferred of course) and made it up to the summit in 2 hr 8 min. Views were great (as are all 14er views) then ran down what I could, completing the hike from start to finish in exactly 3 hrs. For context, this was my 13th 14er within two months so it was definitely on the easier side, but still a challenging hike (they all are).

hiking
20 days ago

Our first 14er was amazing, difficult and rewarding! Began at 6:30 AM, it took us about 2 hours 20 minutes to top, and spent a half hour at top enjoying the view. The last 1/2 mile to the top was pretty difficult but worth it when you make it to the summit. It took us about 2 hours to get down as there were quite a few people heading up the peak, and it was slippery on the way down. Bring layers, fuel and water and take your time!

21 days ago

This trail is NOT 6 miles. It’s 8.39, I tracked it today...also, that last half mile is a doozy! Worth it tho!

hiking
21 days ago

Today, my husband and I hiked our first 14'er, Quandary. We are 61 years old and it was the most difficult, exciting, exhausting experience we've ever had. We were at the trailhead by 7:30 and easily found parking. We started out pretty easily through the trees but when we got above the tree line to the ROCKS, it was super difficult for us. We were determined to finish though so with frequent breaks and lots of water, we made it to the summit in 4 1/2 hours. The view was indescribable because, luckily, it was the most perfect weather day we could have imagined. Also, it happens to be my birthday and a group of fellow hikers sang Happy Birthday at the summit! The hike down took 2 1/2 hours and wasn't as difficult as the hike up, but it was tough.. The trail is well maintained and, because it's late summer, it wasn't crowded at all. It was an incredible day!

hiking
22 days ago

Wow, where to begin... first off, I'm a beginner hiker (I had only done 2 hikes prior to attempting this one), and while it was difficult for me, I was eventually able to pull it off with much support from the gf and lots of breaks! Like everyone said, plan on getting there early - we arrived at 7:40am and there were lots of people already. Despite it being the hardest thing I've done in my life, the views were beautiful, and you can't beat the sense of accomplishment at the end. My first 14er, definitely won't be my last!

Wonderful views at the top. Start early since this hike gets some heavy traffic, from the touristy town of breckenridge. Only bummer about this hike is that you start below tree line. Makes for a long day, but worth it.

24 days ago

Great first 14er. Last 1,000 ft of ascent is very vertical and very grueling. Great hike overall and awesome views from the summit.

hiking
24 days ago

We arrived at the trailhead at 5am on Saturday and there was plenty of parking available. It took us about 3 hours to ascend to the summit and 2 hours to descend. The last mile of the trail is steep and rocky, brutal and exhausting on the way up and slippery on the way down (poles are helpful). Great views from the chilly summit.

hiking
24 days ago

Did anyone think there was a problem with smoke during your climb? Thank you in advance if you respond! Our band of merry women have it scheduled this week.

hiking
25 days ago

Great hike. lots of friendly people. Trail well marked. Weather as always, very unpredictable, prepare and bring layers.

hiking
25 days ago

Awesome hike, did it on a cloudy/foggy day. Got to top around noon and the peak was covered in clouds and slightly snowing on August 22. Had lunch on top still. Did it with 5 if my best friends who have never been on a mountain and now they can’t wait to get back to another one.

26 days ago

Great hike! Wind was whipping and near freezing temperatures, but sunshine the entire time. Views are wonderful, especially sun rising over neighboring peaks. The last half a mile is killer with about 1k feet of elevation gain. Bring lots of layers, gloves, warm hat.... and be sure to start early to summit early and get a good parking space. The small parking lot at the trailhead only has space for about 5 cars.

1 month ago

Challenging for a first timer. Worth it. Took us close to 8 hours. Many people along trail to encourage you. Bring water. Rest a lot. Poles were great. My phone listed it as 9 miles up and back. Did have hail for a few minutes. Glad I had layers. Going down almost harder even though faster. Well maintained trail.

1 month ago

Pretty crowded but the vastness of Quandary makes it okay. Up in 2 hours down in 1.5. Love this 14er.

hiking
1 month ago

it was a great 14'er to do by myself. nice class 1 at the beginning and then very rocky.

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