Quandary Peak in October is ideal. After hiking the DeCaLiBron Loop, I had daylight to spare so I headed over to the nearby trailhead and bagged this relatively easy summit in the evening. Quandary Peak is well known as the easiest 14er and perhaps the most hiked 14er (eliminating drive-ups of Pikes Peak and Mt Blue Sky). Because of its ease, proximity to Breckenridge and notoriety, parking became a significant issue. Hence, in the summer you must reserve a spot in advance or pay for a shuttle. However, Quandary Peak in October is free to access and parking is a non-issue. Here's my trip report and guide.
Overview and Directions
In spite of Quandary Peak's fame, there were some things I learned on the fly. First, there's a parking lot listed in Google Maps which was closed at the time I visited. I suspect this "upper" parking lot is no longer in use. The "lower" parking lot, often called McCullough Gulch is the one most commonly used and requires reservations and a fee in high season. Thankfully in October it was wide open and uncongested.
Quandary Peak is the most popular 14er in Colorado for hiking (excluding drive ups of Mt Blue Sky or Pikes Peak). So although the parking lot was less congested, I was far from solo on this hike. Those looking for solitude should avoid this one. On the other hand, the hike has incredible views of much of the Tenmile and Mosquito Ranges.
Here's my map-
In terms of stats, the hike is around 7 miles, give or take, with about 3,500' of gain. It takes anywhere from 4-6 hours to complete. Here's my distance/elevation map (came in a little under 8 miles)
Quandary Peak in October - Trip Report
After doing the DeCaLiBron earlier in the day, I still had plenty of daylight to work with. I drove over to McCullough Gulch and started hiking around 3PM. Knowing I'd be hiking back in the dark, I tried to at least make the summit before sunset. I walked about a 1/3rd of a mile up McCullough Gulch Road and found Quandary Peak trail on the left. From there, I simply followed the trail all the way to the summit.
The first 1.5 miles and 1,000' are below treeline. The trail meanders along and crosses several abandoned roads and trails along the way. It wasn't too difficult to follow though if you're careless you could go down the wrong way.
After popping out above treeline, the Quandary Peak trail basically climbs the ridgeline to the summit over roughly 2.7 miles. The ridgeline was exposed which could create some windy conditions. Thankfully I had nothing but clear skies and calm winds. It was steady climbing up until 13,100' or about 1,100' short of the summit. There's a brief, flatter section before the trail climbs the final steep mile to the summit.
I gained the peak just as the sun was setting. It took me 3 hours and 15 minutes to summit from the parking lot. Regrettably, I didn't have time to hit the west peak which has a phenomenal view. Note the west peak is not a true 14er and is only done for the views.
Descending in the dark wasn't so bad. Given how well-trodden the trail is, I didn't have difficult with route finding. It still took about 2.5 hours to descend. But it wasn't much trouble. Back at the car at around 9PM, I celebrated climbing five 14ers in a day and 7 in 48 hours. Onward to Mount Massive.