A mountain goat on Quandary Peak. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

A mountain goat on Quandary Peak. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

While many Coloradans dream of climbing some of the state's highest peaks, getting into high-elevation hiking can require some gumption due to the technical nature of the sport. Though no fourteener should be considered an "easy" climb, some fourteeners are easier to summit than others, offering hopeful peak baggers a chance to test their mountaineering abilities without as much risk. Quandary Peak near Breckenridge is a great option for those looking to enter the sport, likely a reason why around 40,000 people seek to climb the peak each year.

Editor's Note: Hiking in Colorado always carries a level of inherent risk. At times, it can lead to serious injury or death. Hike Colorado's fourteeners at your own risk and do plenty of research on how to do so safely before hitting the trail. Here's a good place to start.

The standard route up 14-265-foot Quandary Peak is 6.75 miles long, much shorter than many other fourteener climbs around the state. While the route is shorter, it does gain a steep 3,450 feet of vertical gain through the first half of the climb during a hike along mountain's eastern ridge. This rapid ascent makes the hike fairly strenuous, especially for those not accustomed to the vertical gain.

From the trailhead, the hike winds upward through forest terrain for roughly a mile before reaching treeline. At this point, two steeper segments that are roughly a mile long each make up most of the remaining climb.

Hikers descend Quandary in front of a backdrop of Hoosier Pass. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

Hikers descend Quandary in front of a backdrop of Hoosier Pass. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

Winding upward along the ridge, hikers get to soak in surrounding views of Hoosier Pass, Pacific Peak, and the four-peak Decalibron Loop, as well as the Blue Lakes below. It's quite scenic and the short distance from trailhead to treeline makes this a perfect peak for spotting sunrise.

Along the way, hikers have a good chance of spotting mountain goats. The mountain goats on this mountain are fairly desensitized to seeing humans, but hikers should still give these powerful animals a wide berth or wait for the animals to move along. While mountain goats aren't out to attack humans, they will charge if they feel threatened. Sharp horns can result in goring, which has proven fatal to at least one hiker in the past.

A look at the final approach to the Quandary Peak summit. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

A look at the final approach to the 14,265' Quandary Peak summit. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

As the trail ascends the mountain, it gets a bit rockier though remains easy to follow and is still class one.

Once on the summit, stunning views surround peak baggers, along with ample places to take a seat and rest up before the descent.

The Quandary Peak summit. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

The Quandary Peak summit. Photo Credit: Spencer McKee.

Overall, Quandary Peak is a good fourteener for beginners looking to test their interest in high-elevation hiking. The trailhead is easy to find and the trail is easy to follow, while also delivering a rewarding workout.

Even though Quandary may be one of the easier peaks to bag, it's crucial to take preparation seriously. Be highly aware of weather in the area, bring plenty of water and food, and plan ahead with layers for different temperatures at different elevations. As always, hikers should let a friend know where they're going and when they're planning to be back. Also, wear sunscreen!

Editor's Note: This peak gets crowded and parking can get tight. Please follow all posted rules and park in official spots. Warnings and tickets can be given out for parking violations. Consider climbing this peak when it's less-crowded and get to the trailhead early.

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee manages the OutThere Colorado digital publication as the Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to rock climb, trail run, and mountain bike. Follow along with his adventures on Instagram at @spence.outside


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