Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
5,400.00 ft (1,645.92 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
13.25 mi (21.32 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

At 14,197 feet, Mount Princeton ranks twentieth out of 53 for Colorado's 14ers, and it resides among the Collegiate Peaks of the Sawatch Range. Easily accessible from Buena Vista, the trail sees a lot of visitors on summer weekends, and for good reason: The route promises excellent views and moderate, Class 1 and Class 2 hiking. 

There are two common starting points to climb Mount Princeton: the lower parking lot, or further up CR 322 from a limited number of parking spots on the side of the road. CR 322 is fairly rough, very narrow, and not recommended for sedans or smaller SUVs; an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle is preferred. Also, there are limited parking and camping spots (three or four) along CR 322, and these fill quickly on busy weekends. You can shave about 6 miles off of your hike, but you run the risk of not finding a parking spot and having to drive back down anyway. The conservative call is to park at the bottom and walk up during peak season. 

From the lower parking lot, begin the long road approach up to 11,800 feet and keep an eye out for the Mount Princeton Trail to your right. The trail starts off with some stairs, then quickly climbs above treeline, offering great views of Princeton. You'll have to hike along the north side of Tigger Peak through a talus field and then up to the saddle between the two peaks to start the final push to the summit. The route is mostly well marked until you reach the saddle. From here it can seem like a pick-your-own-adventure route; keep an eye out for cairns and well-worn paths. The route to the summit becomes steep and can be loose were there is bare dirt, so take your time and switchback up to the top.

The 360-degree views from the summit certainly pay off, granting you sights of the surrounding Sawatch Range, Elks, Mosquito Range, and beyond. As with any mountain in Colorado, be aware of the weather and don't get caught at the top with any threat of lightning. If you're on the designate route to the summit, you'll pass a plaque dedicated to Catherine Martha Pugin, who was killed by lightning in 1995 on Princeton. 

Mount Princeton is a classic 14er to check off your bucket list, and it is near a variety of other great Colorado adventures such as rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, and more. Be sure to check out the town of Buena Vista when you're done, and visit one of their great restaurants or cafe's. Enjoy the views, and be safe!

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Great views. Above timberline hiking. Nearby other 14ers.

Cons

Long road approach from the main trailhead.

Trailhead Elevation

8,900.00 ft (2,712.72 m)

Highest point

14,197.00 ft (4,327.25 m)

Features

Wildlife
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado
Sawatch Range + Elk Mountains, Colorado

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