Saturday, June 21, 2008

Quandary Falls

Distance: 2.6 miles round trip
Elevation: 11,100 ft - 11,700 ft
Elevation Gain: 600 ft
Critters: Marmots
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Dogs: Off leash
Quandary Falls near Breckenridge
Quandary Falls trail near Breckenridge Colorado is a short but popular trail to a large and scenic waterfall. The trail conditions can vary but early in the season it can be a slog through bogs, down trees, and snow drifts.
Avalanche evidence just below the falls
Looking down the creek
Quandary Falls is located in McCullough Gulch on the north side of Quandary Peak (14,265 ft) and nestled beneath Pacific Peak (13,998 ft). You get to it by driving to the south of Quandary and heading back past the summit trailhead and down into the gulch itself. Note that at one point the road splits. Stay to the left and park at the gate.
Sheer Rock
The trail begins steeply but the views of the range to the east increase as you rise. After about a half of a mile, the views disappear as the trees begin to close in. The falls are a broad cascade and can be gained via several social trails. They are surrounded by granite outcroppings and shrubbery and are backed by the summit of Quandary itself. In 2008 there was still a large ice sheet covering the stream that both my dogs raced out on. It was obvious that the whole thing could collapse at any moment and getting them back on terra firma was a nerve-wracking experience involving a great deal of shouting.
In years past I have climbed above the falls, but this year we had already spent so much time hacking our way through the trees that continuing on was not appealing. This was a fortunate decision, because we stumbled across a herd of Mountain Goats on the way back to town that we would have otherwise not seen.
Give this trail a chance if you are staying in Breckenridge, but wait until later in the season if you can. The views will not disappoint and the wildflowers should be spectacular.
Looking east just before descending back down to the car 

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