Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  06/16/2009
Date Climbed:   06/15/2009
Author:  saragiguere

 Mt. Princeton - Standard Route  

This is my first trip report. I may add photos later, but most importantly I wanted to post a little recap because early season info can be so helpful to others.

On Sunday, 6/14 Marty and I drove our Jeep Cherokee Sport up the Mt. Princeton road to about 11,000 feet. The road does require decent clearance due to the many mounds that others have mentioned in their reports, but the road is free of potholes, washouts, loose rock, and snow. It is also not too steep. 4WD is not necessary, just clearance.

We found 3 campsites with fire rings just past the radio towers. The middle of the 3 was occupied but looked nice. We took the upper site which was ok but not well protected from wind.

We got a late start the next day (9 a.m.), which is a terrible habit that we must break. The spot where the trail leaves the road is obscured by a snowfield. Even the cairn was covered. Beyond that point the trail consists mainly of scree and talus (and is therefore a bit tedious) and is almost completely free of snow. We crossed 3 very small snowfields with no special gear. The summit pitch had more snow, which can mostly be avoided, although many times we found the snow-covered "trail" to be the path of least resistance on the way up and down. Trekking poles helped a lot on the way down, but there were several hikers doing just fine without poles. The snow did slow us down considerably in both directions. It took just under four hours to summit and three to get down. Pitiful. That first fourteener of the year always feels like the first one ever.

Regarding the road: We hiked from around 11,000, but the road condition does not worsen for a while above that point. It does eventually turn into more of a 4WD road, but not a particularly nasty one. Just a little steeper and looser than the lower part. The road is narrow, but luckily we only had to pull over once on the way down to let two vans pass on their way up. We saw a jeep (not a wrangler) parked all the way up where the trail breaks off from the road. In addition, there seems to be enough room at several switchbacks for a vehicle to park at each.

I hope this is helpful to anyone who is dying to hike a fourteener. The hike was good for early season conditioning, but as a hike it's a pretty crummy way to cross a peak of your list. Not to be negative, but as we all know some fourteeners are better than others. It would be a long, boring day from the lower trailhead.


 Comments or Questions

Thanks for the ride!!
06/17/2009 03:43
Hey Sara! Thanks so much for the ride down...maybe next time you do Princeton, you can go the way we went - Grouse Canyon! Much more scenic and challenging. Me and Chis will be doing Mt. Massive in to you soon!


Re: Thanks for the ride!!
06/17/2009 15:52
You are so welcome! It was great meeting you & Chris. We will definitely take that route if we hike Princeton again. Stay in touch - it would be great to catch up with you next time!


Well said
02/01/2012 16:52
Thanks for the info. I was going back on past years to see how early in the season we could do a 14er without snow too much snow as we dont have the gear for it. I want to hike mid June and we have a subaru forester. Thanks for the info on the road. I am thinking that our car can get us up most of the way....I think this may be a good conditioning hike. Well said. Im not particularly wanting to hike this mountain, but i am wanting to get one in earlier to kick of the season.

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