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Colorado Trails

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.

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-Mapped by Andrew Matranga

Starting out

None

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

Shadowy ridge and Quandary

None

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

Steady ascent

None

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

Blue lakes

None

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

North over Summit County

None

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

Rocky Slope

None

©Jesse Ryan

View across Monte Cristo Creek

None

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

Cairns

None

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

Layer time

None

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

Cairn over the river

None

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

None

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

Solitary path

None

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

Endless ridge

None

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

Grass and Rock

None

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

Ascending the spine

None

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

High Above Blue Lakes

None

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

Sunlit Slopes

None

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

Sky Pilots

None

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

Steep ridges

None

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

Final Push

None

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

From the top

None

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

Loose slopes

None

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

Cirque du Rocky

None

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 Ryan

Snowy Cirques

None

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

None

The views nearing the summit are endless. ©Jesse Ryan

Scree-laced ridge spine

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

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.0

Waypoints

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

Cairns

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

QPK001

Location: 39.3848648071289, -106.061683654785

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

QPK002

Location: 39.3853149414062, -106.061851501465

Bear R @ sign, heading N

QPK003

Location: 39.387565612793, -106.062896728516

Keep R @ Y; trail curves to the NW

QPK004

Location: 39.3882331848144, -106.064300537109

Pass a trail sign and continue moderate ascent to the NW

QPK005

Location: 39.3910484313965, -106.067718505859

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

QPK006

Location: 39.3908843994141, -106.073318481445

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

QPK007

Location: 39.3918838500977, -106.079963684082

Ascend ridge on dense scree-covered slopes

QPK008

Location: 39.3928184509277, -106.082633972168

Trail juts to the N, then swings to the W

QPK009

Location: 39.3949165344238, -106.09058380127

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

QPK010

Location: 39.3970336914062, -106.103569030762

Follow stacked cairns to the W through littered rock piles

QPK011

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