Mt Princeton Standard Route Guide

Mt Princeton rises dramatically above the Arkansas River Valley and the town of Buena Vista in Colorado. With a road ascending high up its slopes dating back to the mining era, it offers an easy approach for those with 4WD and high clearance on their vehicle. Plan your climb up this classic Collegiate Peak with my Mt Princeton Standard Route Guide. 

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Mt Princeton Fast Facts

  • Standard Route: East Slopes
  • Trailhead: Mt Princeton Road
  • Elevation Gain: 3,200 feet
  • Round-Trip Distance: 6.5 Miles
  • Difficulty Level: Class 2+ Scramble
  • Range: Sawatch Range

Mt Princeton Mountain Standard Route Guide

If you have a a 4WD vehicle, you can make it up the Mt Princeton Road up to around 11,000 feet where there’s an area to park. Otherwise, park below at the main trailhead and either hike or hitchhike your way up. At 11,800 feet take a right on to the trail near the end of the road.

Mt Princeton Standard Route Guide

Continue along the trail as you near the ridge crest. Beyond, at 12,000 feet you will be able to see the route ahead: a traverse along the slope ahead of you to the ridge that brings you to the summit.

Mt Princeton Standard Route Guide

As you traverse the slope the trail becomes rocky, and less easy to follow. Rock movement here obscures the trail, look for cairns (small manmade rock pikes) to mark the way. Cross several small gullies along this section as you near the ridge. Near 12,800 feet turn left to take a new trail to the ridge.

Mt Princeton Standard Route Guide

From the ridge turn right and begin climbing towards the summit. The route here becomes more solidly Class 2, but never exceeds that difficulty so long as you stay on route.

Mt Princeton Standard Route Guide

The final few hundred foot crux of the route below the summit. While not technical, scrambling at this altitude takes a lot of energy and it’s easy to trip. Take your time picking your way to the summit.

Mt Princeton Standard Route GuideOnce you make it to the top, enjoy your accomplishment! Get a photo, enjoy a snack, and make sure you head back with plenty of time to reach tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a problem. I hope you enjoyed my Mt Princeton Standard Route Guide.

Mt Princeton Standard Route Guide

Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

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MtBelford

About the Author: Alex Derr

Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.