September 16, 2016

Mount Princeton – 14,197′

14er rank:

# of climbs:
First climbed:
Last climbed:
Routes climbed:


2,177' (Mt. Antero - 5.2 mi S)
Chaffee County
8.1 mi SW of Buena Vista
19 mi NW of Salida

East Slopes (Class 2)

Google Maps


This is the 26th 14er I've climbed, in June 2016 with my friends Mike and Joe. It is the 18th tallest in Colorado but only the 8th tallest in the high Sawatch Range. Mount Princeton appears to stand out on its own and is quite prominent from the town of Buena Vista. It towers more than 6,000' above the town, which is only 8 miles away. It is also one of nine 14ers in the famous group of mountains known as the Collegiate Peaks.

We took the standard East Slopes route to the summit, which officially begins along the Mount Princeton Road. There are two trailheads on the road, a lower one at 8,900' and a higher one at 11,000'. The higher trailhead is accessible by 4WD vehicles with moderate clearance. Most people who drive up the road park near some radio towers 0.3 miles before the trailhead, at ~11,800'. There are a few open areas here to camp as well. You can actually drive even higher along the road, if snow drifts don't block the way, to where the route leaves the road at ~11,800'. 

If beginning at the lower trailhead at 8,900', follow the road for 3.5 miles to the upper trailhead parking near 11,000' and then west for another mile along the top of the ridge, through several switchbacks. After the last switchback, the road turns right and begins to steadily ascend toward the south along steep southeast-facing slopes. Near 11,800', a poorly-marked trail cuts off from the road on the right side and takes you up to the ridgeline at ~12,000'. 

The remainder of the route lies before you and the peak itself comes into view. Keep following a trail west for about 1 mile along the slopes north of Princeton's southeast ridge. The trail does not actually reach the ridge, so before you reach the slopes below the summit you will need to leave the trail to the left (south) and hike up the rocky slope to the ridge near or above 13,000'. From here, follow the ridge the rest of the way to the summit, scrambling across many rocks along the way. 

From the lower trailhead, this route gains ~5,300' of elevation in 6.5 miles one way. This drops to ~3,200' in 3 one-way miles if starting from the upper trailhead. Either way, it's a workout! Rest up on the summit and enjoy the wonderful views of 14ers Mount Antero to the south and Mount Yale to the north. Descend back the way you came. 


Trip Reports

Mount Princeton (June 2016)