valley between mountains with pine trees
valley between mountains with pine trees

Quandary Peak + McCullough Gulch Hiking Guide

Visitors wishing to hike Quandary Peak or McCullough Gulch during summer 2024 must reserve a parking reservation or ride a shuttle from June 15 to September 14, 2024. Outside of this period, parking is free and first-come, first-served at the Quandary Peak Trailhead parking lot.

Make a Parking and Shuttle Reservation


Quandary Peak

Located just south of Breckenridge, Quandary Peak is the only 14er in Summit County and offers many different routes to the 14,265-foot summit. Quandary Peak is one of Colorado’s most popular 14ers, due to its dramatic views, accessibility, and relatively easy climb.  Accessing the trailhead requires a parking reservation or a shuttle ride from June 15 to Sept 15.

Some other nearby 14ers for first-timers include Grays and Torreys Peaks, the Kite Lake 14ers, and Mt. Elbert.


McCullough Gulch Trail

White Falls rushing down McCullough Gulch in Breckenridge

McCullough Gulch features breathtaking waterfall views.

McCullough Gulch trail is a 2.9 mile round-trip high alpine hike that wanders through rich evergreen forests with granite outcroppings, waterfalls, green meadows and brilliant wildflowers. Both Quandary Peak trail and McCullough Gulch trail are very popular and utilize the same forest service roads to get to their respective trailheads. Accessing the trailhead requires a parking reservation or a shuttle ride June 15 to Sept 15. 

Looking for more hikes? Challenge yourself and plan to conquer one of these difficult hiking trails in Breckenridge during your visit.


How Do I Get To Quandary Peak and McCullough Gulch?

Quandary Peak on a clear day.

Colorado 14ers can have patches of snow year round, but the trails are generally clear to hike by mid-summer.

Parking at Quandary Peak & McCullough Gulch is extremely limited and requires an online parking reservation throughout the summer months (June 15 – Sept. 15).  Visitors can access these popular hikes through a reservation based shuttle system from downtown Breckenridge. The ride costs $7 for non-locals and only takes about 15-minutes. Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance beginning June 1.

Make a Parking and Shuttle Reservation

Parking Information

Parking reservations are required to park at the Quandary Peak Trailhead from June 15 to September 15. Parking after 3pm is free and first-come, first-served. Visitors hiking Quandary are STRONGLY encouraged to start their hikes early in the morning to avoid dangerous afternoon thunderstorms. The average time to hike Quandary is 6 hours. The average time to hike McCullough Gulch is 2 hours. Overnight parking is not allowed (12:00am – 4:00am) in the Quandary Peak Trailhead. Parking is prohibited on McCullough Gulch Road, Blue Lakes Road, and Highway 9, with fines up to $1,000.

  • Full-Day Reservation (5am-3pm) – recommended for Quandary
    • $30 non-peak (Monday – Thursday, excluding holidays)
    • $55 peak (Friday – Sunday, plus holidays)
  • 4 Hour Reservation – recommended for McCullough Gulch
    • $10 non-peak (Monday – Thursday, excluding holidays)
    • $20 peak (Friday – Sunday, plus holidays)

Shuttle Information

Visitors must choose a date to ride the shuttle, but do not need to reserve a time. Boarding is first-come, first-served, with proof of payment. The shuttle runs 7 days a week, 5am-5pm, between the Breckenridge South Gondola Parking Structure and Quandary Peak. Visitors are required to show proof of payment to board the shuttle. The last shuttle back to Breckenridge will board at 4:30pm at Quandary Peak. It is free to park in the South Gondola parking garage all day using a code issued by SP Plus (shuttle operator) that visitors will receive in their shuttle email confirmation. For a carless option, passengers are encouraged to walk, bike, or take the Town bus to the South Gondola lot.

Dogs are allowed on the shuttle, however, we STRONGLY encourage you to make a parking reservation if you plan to hike with your dog.

Make a Parking and Shuttle Reservation

  • Free for residents (round trip) – proof of residence can be submitted via email at a minimum of 48 hours in advance of their trip. SP Plus will then validate local status and send a code to apply during check out.
  • $7 for visitors (round trip)

Visitors going to McCullough Gulch will take the same shuttle as hikers going to Quandary Peak, and then board a second shuttle at the Quandary Peak Trailhead, to McCullough Gulch. Visitors are required to show proof of payment to board the shuttle. This on-site shuttle is free and included with a parking and/or shuttle reservation. The McCullough Gulch shuttle runs from 8am to 4pm daily.


Why Do I Need a Reservation?

The reservation system is part of a pilot program put in place by Summit County Open Space & Trails due to significant increases in visitation at Quandary Peak and McCullough Gulch over the past several years, leading to numerous public safety issues. Illegally parked vehicles block emergency access on roadways and limit residents’ ability to access or feel safe in their own neighborhood. The new parking reservation system and shuttle service alleviates these pressures and makes it easier for hikers to safely and legally access the trailheads.

Learn More


What to Know Before Hiking Quandary Peak

Mountain Goat on the Quandary Peak hiking trail in Breckenridge.

Mountain Goats are a common sighting on the Quandary Peak hiking trail in Breckenridge.

Be Prepared

  • Quandary Peak Trail is a 6.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail that is rated as difficult and can take 4-7 hours depending on your ability.
  • Hikers are encouraged to start early and should be prepared to descend before midafternoon when thunderstorms are common and dangerous when above tree line.
  • Hikers should bring plenty of food and water, as well as layers. It can get extremely cold on the summit, particularly if it rains. Sturdy, close-toed shoes are recommended.
  • Quandary Peak is the most popular hiking route in the area and is heavily trafficked in the Summer. Visitors are recommended to hike it mid-week to avoid some of the crowds.
  • Hikers should be advised that there is no cell phone service at the base of Quandary Peak, at McCullough Gulch, or in the trailhead parking area. Please bring a physical map or download your hiking guides beforehand.

Leave No Trace

  • You can help us preserve and protect what we love by following Leave No Trace practices during your visit. 

Should I bring my dog?

  • While it is not recommended to bring your furry friends, dogs are allowed on the trail but must be kept on a leash. Please bring poop bags and clean up after your pet. Visitors bringing dogs should reserve a parking space and not take the shuttle. Please keep in mind that as you get above treeline, trails often turn into boulder fields and sharp, jagged rocks can harm paws and can be difficult to maneuver. Remember, dogs have to take twice as many steps as you do, and pets and wildlife don’t always mesh well.
  • Check out our guide to Dog Friendly Breckenridge for trails you and your pup will both love!


  • We understand how exciting it is to see wildlife and it’s ok to take a few photos from a distance without disturbing them. To help keep Colorado’s wildlife – and you – safe, never approach, chase, follow, surround or feed them, and always observe from a distance. Always keep pets leashed and pack out and dispose of all trash properly. Remember, if the animal doesn’t fit behind your outstretched thumb, or alters its behavior, you are too close!
  • Here’s our guide to common Breckenridge wildlife and tips on how to live with them safely.


Looking for more info? Here’s what to know before climbing your first 14er.

By Breck Editorial
The Breckenridge Tourism Office works to enhance and promote the unique character and experience of Breckenridge as a world-renowned destination resort and to represent, serve and perpetuate the common interest and character of its membership and community.
downtown Breckenridge at dusk
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