National Forest Foundation

Quandary Peak, Find Your Fourteener

Supported by REI

Quandary Peak Trail Maintenance

Colorado’s National Forests and Grasslands are an incredible asset for the state. Covering millions of acres, these public lands offer unparalleled access to snow-capped mountains, cool rivers, sprawling forests, and quiet grasslands. Some of the most iconic, beloved and imperiled landscapes on Colorado’s National Forests are its “Fourteeners” – mountains more than 14,000 feet in elevation. These peaks receive incredible pressure, hosting more than 260,000 hiker visits each year.

Colorado has more Fourteeners than any other state, in fact, there are 54 of them across the state and 48 of them are located on National Forests. As part of a multi-year collaborative effort, called the Find Your Fourteener campaign, the NFF is working with local groups to improve trail conditions, ensure sustainable access and educate the thousands who climb these peaks each year.

One of the most popular Fourteeners is Quandary Peak, located on the White River National Forest about six miles from the famous ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado. The relatively gentle slope and easy access from Denver and other Front Range communities all help make Quandary so popular. All that traffic is negatively impacting the trails and fragile alpine tundra habitat on top of these iconic mountains.

Heavily used trails can become deep gullies without consistent upkeep. These gullies collect rain water and snowmelt and get further eroded, depositing dirt and sediment into otherwise clean, clear streams. Eroded trails are also unpleasant and difficult to walk, so hikers often create new paths. Unfortunately, the slow-growing alpine plants found above 12,000 feet can’t handle this traffic. With just a few footsteps, new “trails” are created, and they then erode after rainstorms sending more sediment into waterways.

With support from REI, the NFF and local stewardship groups are restoring these trails, improving the fragile alpine habitat and improving access to Quandary Peak. Together, we’ll ensure that these trails remain maintained and accessible for years to come, because there’s nothing quite like summiting a Fourteener and feeling like you’re on the top of the world.

Accomplishments*:

  • 12 partners included in project
  • 3 miles of trail built or maintained
  • 221 volunteers, including 28 youth
  • 1,960 volunteer hours
  • 0.5 acre of wildlife habitat restored

*Preliminary accomplishments, not all reports complete.


Project Updates

July 11, 2017 update

NFF staff visited the Quandary Peak Trail and saw two newly constructed areas of steps in the lower section of the trail. Work continues this season.

August 14, 2017 Update

Volunteers from REI and Friends of the Dillon Ranger District joined trail experts from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative to improve trails and restore habitat on Quandary Peak. Volunteers installed logs to control harmful erosion.