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Mt. Princeton
standard East Slopes
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Difficulty:
 Class 2 
Ski/Board: Advanced, D6 / R2 / II  
Risk Factors:Exposure: Moderate
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Route-Finding: Low  
Commitment: Moderate  
 
Trailhead:Mt. Princeton Road
Start:8,900 feet
Summit:14,197 feet
Total Gain:5,400' if you start at the main trailhead (8,900')
3,200' if you start near 11,000' on the road
RT Length:13.25 miles if you start at the main trailhead (8,900')
6.5 miles if you start near 11,000' on the road
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:6/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:319 reports
Cell Signal:18 reports
Sheriff:Chaffee: 719-539-2596
Forest:San Isabel
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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? (Winter/Spring) Please read the "In Winter" notes on this route.

Trailhead

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.

Route

1 shows the route from the east. Leave your vehicle and hike up the road. Above 11,200', the road has a couple of large switchbacks as it climbs the east side of "Tigger Peak" (Unnamed 13,300'). Near 11,700', the road swings around the ridge and continues across the south side of Tigger. Near 11,800', locate the Princeton trail on the right, before the road curves left - 2. Leave the road and start up the trail - 3.

Continue up to 11,900' on the ridge ( 4) where the trail crosses to the north side of "Tigger Peak" and you can see the Princeton summit - 5. Traverse through rocks and across 4 or 5 gullies which may contain snow (spring and early summer) - 6 and 7. Continue west along the trail and over mostly stable rock. Occasionally, the trail may disappear due to recent rock movement but it's fairly easy to follow. After crossing the gullies, turn left to reach easier terrain on Princeton's east slopes - 8. Near 12,800', reach a small rock wall - 9. Turn left and ascend ( 10) south to reach the Tigger-Princeton connecting ridge , near 13,100'.

On the ridge crest, turn right and follow it northwest toward the summit - 11. Near 13,300', reach a small flat area and begin climbing up Princeton's southeast ridge - 12, 13 and 14. Between 13,600' and 14,000', the route is a bit steep but does not exceed a difficulty of Class 2. Near 14,000', the final pitch appears - 15. Stay near the ridge crest and continue to the summit - 16 and 17.

In Winter

In winter months, the north side of "Tigger Peak" holds avalanche terrain. It may be best to bypass this area by hiking directly over Tigger before re-joining the standard route along the ridge between the two peaks.

Skiing?

Viewing ski terrain on the east slopes: 18, 19
Skiing: 20, 21, 22

Notes

The Mt. Princeton road is narrow and there aren't many pull-offs. Consider parking at the bottom on a busy weekend.
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 #7 #8 #9 #10 #11 #12 #13 #14 #15 #16 #17 #18 #19 #20 #21 #22
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