Hiking Quandary Peak, A Fantastic First 14er
The Quandary Peak Trailhead is probably the most accessible of all 14ers. The gentle, Class 1 Mt Bierstadt route is a good choice for a first fourteener. However don’t let the ease trick you – many hikers are rescued every year while hiking Quandary Peak’s slopes. To avoid the crowd, I strongly recommend you visit during the week in the summer, or during the fall months. It’s also a great 14er to climb in the winter, so long as you are properly prepared. Here’s what you need to know for hiking Quandary Peak in my Route Guide below.
Hiking Quandary Peak | Fast Facts
Hiking Quandary Peak | Route Guide
Before you start hiking Quandary Peak… consider picking a different peak. Seriously – this is a very busy mountain, with hundreds of people climbing it on most summer days, so it’s often better to visit another 14er. If you are set on climbing Quandary Peak, however, read on.
The trail starts just past the main Quandary Parking lot – look for the sign marking the start. You begin below tree-line, working your way up a series of gentle switchbacks through the forest. You’ll pass several old mining roads as you go – be sure you follow the signs along the way to stay on route. Eventually you’ll pass above tree-line, and see this view of the route ahead.
Continue hiking until the trail leads to the south side of the East Ridge. In winter, you should skip this section, and head straight up the ridge to avoid avalanche risk. In summer, continue along the side of the slope until you return to the ridge proper through a series of switchbacks. You’ll now approach a flat section I like to call the Catwalk.
This next section is flat, but often sees strong winds that can significantly move you around. Avoid the steep drop-offs to your left and cornices if you’re climbing early in the year. Once through the Catwalk you’ll start to climb the final crux to reach the summit ridge. Be wary of false summits – what appears to be the top is actually the beginning of a long summit ridge. Don’t be disapointed!
Finish your hike by walking along the relatively flat summit ridge to the top, marked by a cairn of rocks. Take a few photos, have a snack, and enjoy your accomplishment! Be sure to watch for weather so you can descend quickly if lightning threatens you. If you need more information, check out the route guide on 14ers.com and summitpost.com. I hope you enjoyed my Quandary Peak Route Guide! Good luck hiking Quandary Peak!
All route guides require a good topographical route map. I recommend downloading this map on your phone so you have a digital copy, and also printing out a paper copy so you have a backup spare if anything goes wrong. Keep them both with you while hiking Quandary Peak.
You should check the weather forecast multiple times, from multiple sources, before hiking Quandary Peak. Here are several good sources for the Quandary Peak Route:
Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.