Quandary Peak is one of the easier and more accessible 14ers, due both to a relatively easy ridge walk and its location right along a paved highway. It’s also the highest point in the Tenmile Range, the line of mountains that go on to form the Breckenridge ski area before ending at Interstate 70. The trail starts in the woods just a few hundred yards from Colorado Highway 9 and is easy to follow as it heads toward timberline. Then you discover that “easy” on a 14er is relative, as the trail gains nearly 3,500 feet in just over three miles. The peak is so heavily climbed, you may lose the trail you’re on or it may seem like three different trails. Just stay on the crest of the ridge. The summit offers a panorama of the heart of Colorado ski country, at heights no ski lift can reach.
- Parking can be an issue on summer weekends. If the main lot is full, park in the overflow lot adjacent to Colorado Highway 9. The sheriff’s office may ticket people who park in front of nearby homes. Or better yet, avoid summer weekends.
- This is a great beginner mountain for 14er skiers. The East Ridge is readily accessible all year and usually holds continuous snow through May from the summit to near timberline.
- Breckenridge Brewery is only a few miles away, on the south side of the namesake ski town. After the hike stop for a burger and vanilla porter and celebrate the accomplishment.
Recommended season(s): Late spring – late fall.
—R. Scott Rappold