It’s no secret that our hometown 14er, Quandary Peak has been exploding in popularity. In fact, climbing any of our states 58 peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation has become so popular that around 415,000 hikers were counted on Colorado 14ers in 2020. With the pandemic pushing visitors outdoors, 14er hiker visits in 2020 rose 44% from the year before. Also in 2020, Quandary Peak surpassed Mt. Bierstadt as the most visited 14er in the entire state with 49,100 hikers. Last summer, from June 20th through September 7th, there were just 5 days with less than 200 people climbing Quandary.
Thanks to the Colorado 14ers Initiative and FDRD volunteers, the Quandary Peak trail has undergone some major maintenance in the past few years. These trail improvements have enabled the trail assessment grade to rise from a C+ to an A-.
However, the real issue now is parking. Trailhead access to both Quandary Peak and nearby trail McCullough Gulch, simply cannot handle the amount of traffic they get. With increased visitation and limited parking spots, hikers started to park on both sides of the narrow McCullough Gulch Road, making it impassable for emergency vehicles. Cars had also started to line up on the shoulders of Highway 9 to park for the day, creating even more safety issues.
On July 30, 2021 Summit County Government started a paid parking reservation system as well as a free shuttle to the Quandary peak trailhead. You can no longer park at Quandary Trailhead for free and you can no longer park at McCullough Gulch trailhead at all. Reservations for a short term ($5), half-day ($20), or full-day ($50) parking spot, must be made in advance at ParkQuandary.com. OR you can take a free, first-come first-serve shuttle to the trailhead, leaving from the Breckenridge Airport Road Lot. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes, 7 days a week, from 5am to 6:30pm. There is an additional shuttle running from the Quandary Trailhead to the McCullough Gulch trailhead, for those that wish to hike to McCullough Gulch.