Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  08/13/2011
Modified:  07/30/2013
Date Climbed:   08/13/2011
Author:  buckeyejes
 Mt. Princeton - from the radio towers   

This is my first trip report - so I hope it is helpful! I am always reading other's trip reports, but I finally decided to write one myself.

To make it to the trailhead early, my husband and I decided to stay in Salida the night before. We decided to go up the 4WD road and park at the radio towers. Even after reading the trip reports, I was still surprised how narrow this road was. Thankfully, we didn't encounter any cars on the way up. We did pick up a couple from New Hampshire near the main trailhead, so I am glad we could make their hike a little shorter!
main trailhead

We made it the radio towers about 6:15am and found a spot there.
radio towers

There were several campsites set up and so many of the spots were taken already. There was more parking than I thought after reading the trip reports. If you don't find any at the radio towers, you can keep going on the 4WD road and there are some more spots scattered along the road.

We started the hike around 6:30am. We were not on the road very long before getting to the real trail. There are stairs indicating the trail, so it was pretty easy to pick out.
where the trail starts off the road

This part of the trail was not very long. The trail became all rocks quickly, and going up to the saddle was quite steep.
going up to the saddle

When we arrived at the saddle, there is a beautiful view of Mt. Antero.
mt. antero in the background

The rest of the climb was steep and seemed long going over several ridges. Although there may have been a defined path, it seemed to be a free for all on the rocks near the top, and so I spent most of the time poking at the rocks to see if they were sturdy before stepping on them.

We arrived to the summit at 9:30am, and so I think we made pretty good time. We were the 3rd group on the summit, and met a group at the top that had climbed it at 1am so they could catch the sunrise. The weather was gorgeous and the views were great. I enjoyed this summit because it was bigger and flatter than normal, so it was nice to sit and enjoy being there for an extended period of time.
at the top!

At about 10:30am, we started our descent. The overall descent took about 2.5 hours, (where it only took 3 to get up for us), so it shows how slow going it was on the rocks on the way down. We were especially careful because a girl we had passed on the way up told us about how she crushed her leg on the rocks near the summit a few years before. The way down, especially close to the summit, had many loose rocks and was steep, making it very easy to slip. However, we made it all the way down and with the weather still very nice outside. Overall, this was a nice hike and I didn't find it to be only a "check off the list" like some of the other trip reports had stated.

I would like to make a few other notes about the trip.
1. We went dog-less on this hike, and I think it was a smart decision. I think my big dogs would have had some trouble scrambling from rock to rock for pretty much the entire trail. However, I did see some dogs along the way, so it would be possible if you are considering bringing yours along.
2. It was nice that there wasn't really a false summit at any time. The top was in view pretty much the entire time, so we didn't have to "guess" how close we were.
3. We met 4 vehicles (a jeep, 2 ATV's and a dirt bike) along the 4WD road on the way down. It was very difficult to move to the side to allow the vehicles to pass and was actually a little scary since I wasn't sure how far to the right we could go safely.
4. We had our first experience with "brake fade" after coming down the 4WD road. Thankfully, it was after we were off the road and onto the paved county road, but it was still scary. The brakes started working again after we let them cool for about 20 minutes. We were in the lowest gear the entire time down the road and still needed to be on our brakes most of the time, so perhaps this particular road is longer and steeper than the vehicle had experienced before (eve though we have been on several of these 4WD trailhead roads before).

Summary - We had a lot of fun (minus the brake issue).

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Well Done!
01/06/2012 21:31
Thanks for an informative, helpful report! Good detail!

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