Hiking Quandary Peak – Trail Description, Maps, Pics & More


Article Categories: Hiking
Article Tags: CO 14er | Colorado | Day Hikes

Quandary peak is one of the shorter Colorado 14er hikes. In 3.3 miles, hikers ascend 3,370 feet to the summit, making for a steep incline for the majority of the hike. This is one of the better beginner 14er hikes, and is also a great option for those looking to test 14ers in the winter. The well traveled, well marked, and class 1 trail all lead to incredible views. Here’s everything you need to know.

Difficulty – Intermediate
Distance – 6.6 miles round trip (10.62 km)
Height – 14,265 feet (4,347.97 m)
Elevation gain – 3,370 feet (1,027.2 m)
Duration – 5 to 7 hours (book time)
Hike Class: Class 1
Seasons – Year-round (caution and experience needed in winter)
Trailhead Location – Kite Lake – 12,030 feet (directions below)

Need To Know Information:

  • Quandary Peak now requires parking reservations or a shuttle. You can read about this, and get permits here: https://www.parkquandary.com/
  • The parking reservation system is currently not year round, but they do not have dates published, so simply check the parking reservation site to determine if they are required during the time you plan on hiking. Reservations can be made up to 14 days in advance.


Trail Map

Quandary Peak Trail Map

Quandary Peak Trail Map



Quandary Peak Trail | 6.6 Miles Roundtrip | 3,370 Feet Elevation Gain | Class 1

This is the most common route up Quandary Peak. It is one of the most common CO 14er trails due to close proximity to populations, and shorter mileage. Hikers will begin ascending steadily and quickly reach treeline 1.1 miles into the hike. The views from treeline until the summit are outstanding. This first 1.1 mile stretch is extremely well marked and traveled. The dirt path features steps and very easy walking.

For the next 1.3 miles, hikers continue to rise steadily and steeply. The trail remains high quality and easily traversable. It is the last mile where the ascent gets quite steep and remains until just shy of the summit. This part of the trail features a lot more rocks along the trail, making the terrain slightly more difficult as well.

Views from the summit are absolutely stunning. Hikers will retrace their steps back to the trailhead. The trail is easily recognizable when looking back where hikers began.


West Ridge Trail | 6 Miles Roundtrip | 2,650 Feet Elevation Gain | Class 3

The West Ridge is a less common route, and features much more difficult hiking. Hikers begin at the dam at the upper Blue Lake. The road is usually open in early June. When it is closed, hikers will have to park and hike up the road. Going along the right side of the dam, hikers will find the trail. This trail is only for hikers that are comfortable with class 3 hiking. We recommending checking out 14ers.com for this route.


Cristo Couloir | 4 Miles Roundtrip | 2,650 Feet Elevation Gain | Class 2

This route begins the same as the West Ridge trail and is also less traveled. This is a spring skiing route. Hikers can often ascend up a snowfield. This is more of a climbing/skiing route. We recommend checking out 14ers.com for this route.


Hiking in Winter

Quandary Peak is a fantastic winter hike option. The Class 1 trail is well traveled and well marked. Depending on snow conditions, microspikes or snowshoes will suffice. The avalanche risk on quandary is still moderate. Hikers should avoid during high avalanche risk times. Be sure to check conditions beforehand.


Camping Information

Quandary does not have campsites at the trailhead. Hikers can find campgrounds in nearby towns. Since this is a quick hike, local campgrounds within a half hour work just fine. There are also dispersed sites past the trailhead further up McCullough Gulch road.


Directions & Parking

This parking area is open year round. Keep in mind, this is a busy hike, so spots and spots along the road fill up very fast. Leave very early, or go on weekdays to avoid the largest crowds.


Current Weather Conditions

Here is a detailed forecast for the next 4 days:

Blue River, CO

This Afternoon
Sunny. High near 43, with temperatures falling to around 41 in the afternoon. Northwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.

Clear. Low around 30, with temperatures rising to around 32 overnight. West northwest wind 3 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.

Sunny, with a high near 45. West southwest wind 9 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 16 mph.

Sunday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 31. West wind 8 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph.

Sunny, with a high near 45. West northwest wind 10 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph.

Monday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 32.

A chance of snow showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms after noon. Sunny, with a high near 43. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.


Additional Pictures

Looking Back along Quandary Peak Trail

Looking Back along Quandary Peak Trail

Quandary Peak Summit Pano Views

Quandary Peak Summit Pano Views

Quandary Peak Summit Views

Quandary Peak Summit Views

Views shortly after breaking treeline on Quandary Peak Trail

Views shortly after breaking treeline on Quandary Peak Trail

Max DesMarais
Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about

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