Hiking Etiquette and Tips

Know Before You Go: How to hike Quandary Peak and McCullough Gulch

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Tips for Hiking Quandary Peak

  • Quandary Peak Trail is a 6.6-mile round trip, heavily trafficked out-and-back trail that is rated as difficult. Visitors spend an average of 6 hours hiking this route, depending on ability level.
  • Hikers are strongly encouraged to start hiking early in the morning and should be prepared to descend the mountain before mid-afternoon. Thunderstorms often strike beginning around noon, and are incredibly dangerous to encounter above tree line.
  • Hikers should bring plenty of food, water, and layers. It can get extremely cold on the summit, particularly if it rains.
  • Sturdy, close-toed shoes are recommended. Unstable scree fields are tricky to ascend and descend near the summit.
  • Quandary Peak is the most popular hiking route in the area and is heavily trafficked in the summer. Visitors are recommended to hike mid-week to avoid crowds.
  • Dogs are allowed on trail but must be kept on leash. Mountain goats, particularly kids, are frequently harassed by off-leash dogs on Quandary Peak.
Tips for Hiking McCullough Gulch

  • McCullough Gulch is a 2.7-mile round trip, heavily trafficked out-and-back trail that is rated as moderate. Visitors spend an average of 2 hours hiking this route, depending on ability level.
  • Weather is unpredictable in the high country. Remember to bring layers, close-toed shoes, and plenty of food and water. The high country sun can be brutal, and so can our storms!
Additional Tips 

  • Please bring poop bags to clean up after your pet! Did you know that multiple cities and towns in Colorado receive their water supply from the Quandary area watershed? We don't want your dog poop in that! Doggy bags must be brought home with you. Leaving a doggy bag full of poop on the trail is the same thing as leaving your dog's poop un-scooped!
  • Clean up after yourself! Help preserve the amazing experience of the area for visitors after you by picking up your trash, including toilet paper. If you pack it in, please pack it out.
  • Stay on trail. Did you know that traveling off the designated trail can damage special plants and wildlife habitat? Limit your impact by following the designated route.
  • I have to go to the bathroom...what do I do???
    • If it's not an emergency, please hold it and use the port-a-potties at the trailhead parking area.
    • If it's a pee emergency, please walk off trail (try your best not to damage any vegetation) and stay at least 200ft away from water sources. If you are more than 200ft from a water source, do your best not to aim downhill into a water source.
    • If it's a poo emergency, here's what to do. If you are above treeline and in the alpine tundra, please pack out your own waste. This helps protect the fragile ecosystems of the beautiful Quandary tundra! You can use a bio-bag or doggy bag. If you are below treeline, you can bury your waste in a "cat hole" at least six inches deep. This helps protect both water quality and wildlife. Never bury your toilet paper - it takes forever to biodegrade! You can stuff it into a baggy, out of sight out of mind, until you find a trash can. In both of these cases, walk off trail to do your business, but take care not to damage any vegetation (especially on the tundra).