| 2,000 feet of rocks
Arrived at trail head: 5:45 AM
TH (radio towers) to Summit: 3:15
Summit to TH: 2:30
Round Trip: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3400'
Climbing 14ers with my teenage son is always the highlight of summer, but we both agreed that the rocky, uneven trail to Princeton was not as pleasant as most.
We arrived at the radio towers at 5:45 AM after leaving Colorado Springs (west side) at 3:00 AM. It is always strange driving in CO in the dark because you can't see the any of the beautiful scenery - it is like driving in a tunnel. It took us two hours to BV. We stopped at Loaf n Jug, which is open 24hrs (on the left just as you enter town - nice bathrooms). In the dark, I could just see a sign on the side of the road that says Mt. Princeton and points to the left. I thought about turning on the next road but stayed with the directions that say use CR 306 in the middle of BV (there is a stop light there). The sign actually just points to the mountain so, as you drive by in the daylight you know which one it is; ignore it. It might have been confusing just because I only got a few hours of sleep, but I thought I would mention it.
The road up to the radio towers is best driven with a 4wd. We drove a Honda CRV 2005 and it was no problem (see TH Conditions Report for more info). People always talk about how narrow it is, but I felt like it was wide in a number of spots. We were the first car there and easily found a spot to park. Because we had gotten there so early, we decided to rest before ascending. Even when we did start hiking at 7:40 AM there were plenty of parking spots available at the radio towers and just up the road from the towers there were also spots still open.
As we left the vehicle, we hiked up the road for a mile and a half then took the stone steps up to the right. The first part of the trail is nice and well used. It is a easy hike. When you get to about 12,200' the trail becomes very rocky and uneven. For the next 2,000 ft of elevation gain to the summit it is constant rocks, all shapes and sizes. The trail was mostly visible but very uneven, my son and I ended up getting blisters from all the terrain changes. so, you may plan for that or take preventative action. There was a couple that had a few dogs and had to turn around just because of the trail. I wore hiking boots after considering wearing my trail shoes. I definitely made the right choice.
As you reach the first ridge, definitely stay near the top because you can find a trail that is easier than the rocks below. However, it is sporadic and easy to lose. We summited and after hanging out a bit headed back down. After we dropped down off the ridge, the rock trail was even less enjoyable and traversing the rocks seemed to take longer than on the ascent. We kept going and celebrated when we reached the dirt trail. My son and I were happy to get back to the car.
Overall, it was a great day and having pizza in BV was a good way to top it off. Happy climbing!