Mt. Princeton Road Trailhead
Added by BillMiddlebrook

Location:  Sawatch Range
14ers Served:  Mt. Princeton
Road Type:  Easy 4WD, good clearance recommended. 3   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD dirt to the lower TH. 4WD access to 12,000'.
Directions:  From Buena Vista: From the center of town, drive west on the County Road (CR) 306 for 0.7 miles. Turn left on CR 321 and continue south for 7.2 miles. Turn right onto CR 322 at a large sign. From South of Buena Vista: Over 5 miles south of the U.S. 285 / 24 junction, turn west on County Road 162 in the town of Nathrop. Drive over 4 miles to a junction. Turn right on CR 321. After 1.2 miles, turn left on CR 322.

On CR 322, drive 0.8 miles to a fork in the road. Bear right into the Mt. Princeton trailhead. This trailhead is at 8,900' and there is a large parking area. If you have a good clearance 4WD, you can continue up the narrow 322 (Mt. Princeton) road. Just after the lower parking area, there is a fork in the road - stay right on the main road. Drive 3 miles to the radio towers at 10,800'. There is parking here for a couple of vehicles or turn left and continue on the 322A road. Between 3.2 and 3.4 miles up the Princeton road, there are some small camping spots near 11,000' - with some parking. The road gets worse after the camping spots and there is very limited parking above this point.
Winter Access:  Closed at the lower TH.
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Date Status Information Posted By  Photos  Comments Likes Dislikes    
2011-05-02 I was able to 4wd 2.7 miles past the Frontier Ranch trailhead to an altitude of 10,400. There was about 6 inches of new snow on this section of road. Between 10,400 and the radio towers there appears to be a layer of old snow as well. One Sierra Charlie         
2010-11-28 I drove up one mile past the main trailhead to where there is a small place for 1 or 2 cars to park. This is the place where you have to diverge from the colorado trail to go up princeton. I probably should have parked at the trailhead however. I slid around a little on the way up and if you ahve ever seen this road you know it‘s the last place you want that to happen. It is very narrow with dropoffs. I was in a forester with stock tires. The road all the way up to the satelite tower campground was probably slightly worse than the first mile to where I parked. I never saw any other cars even at the main trailhead. There were tire tracks from the main trailhead about 1/4 mile up and then they must have came back down backwards. Other than the place where I parked 1 mile up the road there is no place to turn around until you get to the satelite tower. mikefromcraig         
2010-09-13 Dry all the way to 12,000‘. Rollers are higher than expected, glad to have a higher clearance rig. Very narrow with few chances for turnaround/passing. Summit Assassin         
2010-06-25 Road is dry all the way and not as bad as I expected. No problems getting a Subaru up to the radio towers if you take the rollers slowly. The road does not get too much worse after the radio towers either, just a couple tight switchbacks. crossfitter         
2010-05-31 Road is clear to the first switchback past the radio towers. There is impassable snow at that first switchback. highplaces         
2010-05-16 Thanks to dk0 rtsch for moving all the trees and branches, plus some warmer temps, we were able to drive all the way to the switchback at the radio towers this morning (even though it snowed some Fri and Sat). It‘s possible to make it a bit farther up to the camping areas, but I didn‘t want to bother with the drifts (icy in the a.m. and slushy in the afternoon) to only save about a quarter mile. On the way up to the towers, there were some minor snowy sections here and there, but the road is mostly tracked ... and melting fast. In fact, some of it was sloppy-muddy on the drive down, but nothing too bad. Aubrey  4       
2010-04-24 I was there late Sat night (April 24, 2010) and spent a few hours running through a lot of snow banks in my humble Subaru Sport (sans snow tires). I had to tow away multiple fallen branches and trees, but I managed to make it all the way to the Colorado Trail junction.,-106.184707&spn=0.016803,0.037723&z=15&msid=116289982088556420644.000485576425ea182f0c4 At that point I realized I would have to come back next week! Sorry, I took no pictures and left only tire treads! dk0 rtsch         
2010-04-13 Trail still closed down low (winter) as of this w.end. san juan johnny         
2010-01-30 Reports are that the area was quite dry until this week‘s storm, which brought about a foot of new snow. While the southerly exposed areas were beginning to melt out, unless we get a prolonged warm/dry period, it will likely be unpassable for the remainder of the season. The parking lot at 8900 feet is huge and was completely plowed out. Dancesatmoonrise         
2009-11-29 I made it 0.5 miles up the road in my Subaru Outback before spinning out on ice. Snow and ice most of the way hiking up it. WIclimber         
2009-10-20 clear and dry no problems. go slow over the breaks ColoNativeinPA         
2009-06-29 Totally dry all the way to the end of the road (the lower flank of Tigger Peak). The road is easily passable by most stock 4WD with decent clearance. No snow to speak of anywhere along the road. FCSquid         
2009-05-17 Went up to above the radio towers on 5/16/09. Tacoma in 2wd was fine, but you need a high clearance vehicle. There were several pretty nice turnouts and campsites above the towers. emcee smith         
2009-05-13 Clear to the camping/parking above the radio towers. JB99         
2009-05-03 As of 5/3/09, the road was completely dry all the way to the switchback at the radio towers. I drove a couple hundred yards farther and got stopped by some bulky iced-over snow drifts. So, with no way of turning around, I had to back up all the way back down to the radio towers and park there. Even though the drifts were pretty dense with ice, I imagine they‘ll melt soon, which will open up all those parking/camping spots. But beyond that area, large snowdrifts completely block the road, and I doubt they‘ll be going anywhere anytime soon. Aubrey         
2009-03-18 Road is not passable by car about .1 of a mile past the parking lot. Plenty of weak melting faceted snow. alpinista77         
2009-03-18 Road is not passable by car about .1 of a mile past the parking lot. Plenty of weak melting faceted snow. alpinista77         
2008-11-26 I climbed Princeton on Tues 11/25. The road is totally dry to the radio towers. Beyond that there were only small patches of snow--mostly on the side of the road--and would be easily drive-able all the way to the hiking trail. swalshdog         
2008-11-10 From an 11/7-11/8 summit: There are patches of light but slick snow to the second switchback past the radio towers, and then a few drifts on the shelf road that I didn‘t try to pass through in my Wrangler. Tim McMarmot         
2008-10-29 Conditions Update: If you‘re thinking of a Princeton Hike this gorgeous Fall week... The road is bone dry to the Radio Towers, and just a couple of tiny ice patches all the way to the upper trailhead at 11,800. We pulled off the road and parked in one of a few spots within 1/4 mile beyond The Towers. There is no parking at the 11,800 trailhead junction with the road. Once on the trail, Yaks or Spiders sure came in handy above 12,300‘ for slippery walk over few inches of hard pack snow in between talus with some ice patches. The Mt. Princeton Hot Springs restaurant (yum!) was open at 8am for (late) breakfast - handily at the base of the Mt. Princeton Road turn off. Vangrove         
2008-09-12 Just so the previous update isn‘t misleading - I made it up to the towers on 9/11 in my Jeep Compass (4WD but not high clearance), but scraped bottom 3 times both up and down. High clearance is best for this road. The road is actually smoother beyond the towers, but there aren‘t many places to park. Roald         
2008-09-06 Road appears to have been grated, and is quite smooth (for a 4WD road) all the way to the towers. High clearance vehicles can easily go further than the radio towers, I even saw some lower clearance subarus going quite a ways beyond the towers. Road is narrow, be observant of pull over areas in the event you meet other vehicles. (Appear to be more pull overs than there used to be) Derek         
2008-08-01 Took the trail to the towers on 30 July. Recent washouts and dips; would not plan on taking a sedan on this road. 14erdmd         
2008-06-23 All clear to camping sites beyond radio towers. Road is quite rough--high clearance vehicle needed. chasrobt         
2008-05-24 Open to the radio towers. Do not drive higher because snow blocks the road a bit higher and there is no way to turn around. BillMiddlebrook         

Just past the switchback at the radio towers, these icy blocks block your path. (Added by: Aubrey on 2009-05-03)Not technical, but you need hi–clearance for erosion bumps. Few places to pass. (Added by: Aubrey on 2009-05-03)Not technical, but you need hi–clearance for erosion bumps. Few places to pass. (Added by: Aubrey on 2009-05-03)Going up the road Saturday 16 Oct 09  mid afternoon (Added by: ColoNativeinPA on 2009-10-20)1st Choice after Hot Springs (Added by: ThePopp on 2013-05-22)2nd Choice (Added by: ThePopp on 2013-05-22)3rd and last choice (Added by: ThePopp on 2013-05-22)

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