Colorado 14ers: Quandary Peak

Follow this popular route up a long, gentle ridge to gain intimate views of the Tenmile Range and the Continental Divide.

-Mapped by Andrew Matranga

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.0


Starting out

Location: 39.3869094848633, -106.062393188477

Andrew Matranga and Andy Parker begin the sustained ridgewalk up Quandary's east slope. ©Jesse Ryan

Shadowy ridge and Quandary

Location: 39.3897895812988, -106.067222595215

Hikers pause in the shade before the exposed, treeless section of the climb. ©Jesse Ryan

Steady ascent

Location: 39.3913307189941, -106.070465087891

Andy Parker continues the climb. ©Jesse Ryan

Blue Lakes

Location: 39.3902015686035, -106.074989318848

This forested lake-and-creek basin on Quandary's south slope get shady relief during the early morning. ©Jesse Ryan

North over Summit County

Location: 39.3916397094727, -106.078689575195

As you climb, savor sweeping vistas over the peaks and valleys of the Central Rockies. ©Jesse Ryan

Rocky Slope

Location: 39.3905601501465, -106.076736450195

©Jesse Ryan

View across Monte Cristo Creek

Location: 39.3920516967773, -106.081466674805

Glancing south over the drainage to North Star Mountain. ©Jesse Ryan


Location: 39.3952407836914, -106.097503662109

Andrew Matranga stomps through a scree field. Follow these large rock stacks to stay on course. ©Jesse Ryan

Layer time

Location: 39.393440246582, -106.084648132324

Heading to the thin air, hikers add a layer to combat swirling winds. ©Jesse Ryan

Cairn over the river

Location: 39.3945198059082, -106.0859375

A sentinel trail marker has a perfect view over the Middle Fork South Platte River, Hoosier Ridge, and Mount Silverheels--a local 13er worth bagging. ©Jesse Ryan

False Summit

Location: 39.3951873779297, -106.092056274414

Andy Parker picks his way over the first hump on the long ascent. ©Jesse Ryan

Solitary path

Location: 39.3950347900391, -106.098022460938

Andrew Matranga continues the slog up Quandary's east slope. ©Jesse Ryan

Endless ridge

Location: 39.3945693969727, -106.093955993652

It just keeps going, and going, and going.... ©Jesse Ryan

Grass and rock

Location: 39.3949813842773, -106.089172363281

View north while climbing past lush, green hills. ©Jesse Ryan

Ascending the spine

Location: 39.3952407836914, -106.098838806152

Andrew Matranga shortens his trekking poles and picks his way through the crumbly path. ©Jesse Ryan

High Above Blue Lakes

Location: 39.395751953125, -106.101669311523

The view east over the Monte Cristo Creek drainage and anvil-shaped Blue Lake. ©Jesse Ryan

Sunlit slopes

Location: 39.3947257995606, -106.090721130371

Late morning sun kisses the peak and valleys outside of Breckenridge. ©Jesse Ryan

Sky Pilots

Location: 39.3965759277344, -106.101821899414

Radiant, lavender wildflowers that thrive in high-altitude conditions. ©Jesse Ryan

Steep ridges

Location: 39.3962173461914, -106.101615905762

The view south to the ridgeline of North Star Mountain. ©Jesse Ryan

Final push

Location: 39.3975524902344, -106.104751586914

Blocky scree and snow litter the final hundred yards. ©Jesse Ryan

From the top

Location: 39.397346496582, -106.105628967285

Andrew Matranga and Andy Parker soak in the full-circle panoramas on the summit. ©Jesse Ryan

Loose slopes

Location: 39.3945198059082, -106.088508605957

During the climb, traverse along a slim section where the views turn vertigo. ©Jesse Ryan

Cirque du Rocky

Location: 39.397346496582, -106.105522155762

The Rocky Mountains stretch from the northern and southern boundary. From the summit, peer over the long basins to the west of the Great Divide. ©Jesse Ryans

Snowy Circques

Location: 39.3976058959961, -106.10619354248

From the summit, you'll peer straight into the broad, snowy basin above McCullough Gulch. Pacific Peak hangs in the center of the frame. ©Andrew Matranga

North over the Tenmile Range

Location: 39.3971405029297, -106.102745056152

The views nearing the summit are endless. ©Jesse Ryan

Scree-laced ridge spine

Location: 39.3955459594727, -106.100280761719

The view down Quandary's east slop, where hikers (just tiny specks) ascend into the high-alpine


Location: 39.3848648071289, -106.061683654785

From the Monte Cristo trailhead, head N through thick conifer stands


Location: 39.3853149414062, -106.061851501465

Bear R @ sign, heading N


Location: 39.387565612793, -106.062896728516

Keep R @ Y; trail curves to the NW


Location: 39.3882331848144, -106.064300537109

Pass a trail sign and continue moderate ascent to the NW


Location: 39.3910484313965, -106.067718505859

Trail winds briefly to the N, then curves W; look to the S for views over the Continental Divide


Location: 39.3908843994141, -106.073318481445

Cross short bridge where views open up along Quandary's long E ridge


Location: 39.3918838500977, -106.079963684082

Ascend ridge on dense scree-covered slopes


Location: 39.3928184509277, -106.082633972168

Trail juts to the N, then swings to the W


Location: 39.3949165344238, -106.09058380127

Reach small saddle and continue heading W toward the summit; bear down for steep grade ahead


Location: 39.3970336914062, -106.103569030762

Follow stacked cairns to the W through littered rock piles


Location: 39.3972816467285, -106.106300354004

Quandary Peak (14,265 ft.): Telescopic views over Blue Lakes and the Tenmile Range. Check out the deep, glacier-capped cirques below Fletcher Mtn. to the W and the toothy ridge connecting Wheeler Mtn. to the SW, where the Continental Divide curves S; retrace steps to trailhead