Mount Princeton

Buena Vista, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 06/17/2020
4.5 / 5 ( 8 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Seasonal Closure
Typically Open: 04/15 - 12/01
Length: 5.3 miles
Highest Elevation: 12100 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Buena Vista
Nearest Town w/ Services: Buena Vista
Official Road Name: FS 322/322A
Management Agency: San Isabel National Forest
District: Salida Ranger District
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Mount Princeton
Mount Princeton (14,196') is the most majestic and popular of the Collegiate Peaks, and the Princeton Chalet road takes you well above timberline on the southern slope of the mountain. The trail is in such close proximity to Buena Vista that you can look up at the mountain from downtown and then two hours later you can be looking down on the valley below giving you views of nearly the entire county. The road will certainly test the nerves of even the most experienced drivers as it switchbacks its way up the mountains and then traverses to the south crossing a large avalanche chute before ending on a ridge below Tigger Peak (13,300'). A chalet built by Young Life in the 60s still stands at the end of the road and is used by hikers and mountaineers during their adventures.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Mount Princeton

Route Information

Technical Rating:
(MODERATE )

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Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
Turn right at the end County Road 322 into the Mount Princeton parking area. Make your way through the large parking area to start the trail. There is no camping allowing in the parking area.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 38.739971, -106.175394
From the Highway 24/Main Street stoplight in Buena Vista, head west on West Main Street. In .75 miles turn left onto Rodeo Road. Continue on Rodeo Road for 6.75 miles and then turn right onto County Road 322 at a sign for Frontier Ranch. Continue on CR 322, at .9 miles turn right and pass through the entrance to the Mt. Princeton parking lot. You are now at the Mt. Princeton Trailhead.

Camping

Dispersed

Land Use Issues

This area is part of Pike-San Isabel National Forest, and as such is part of the 2011 Lawsuit where a coalition of conservation and recreation groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over what they say is the illegal addition of 500 miles of motorized roads and trails. A settlement was reached in late 2015 requires the U.S. Forest Service to re-evaluate the roads and create a new travel management plan. Over the next year, 30 roads will be partially or completely closed while this evaluation takes place over the next 5 years. It is imperative that the OHV community let's their voices be heard on this issue. If we do nothing, those 500 miles will be shutdown. Contact the local ranger districts and let them know why the area is important to you and the history you have there. Salida Forest Service District Office Leadville Forest Service District Office

Trail Reviews (16)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This trail is interesting in that the first half is an easy smooth dirt road, and then there is a complete switch to a rougher, rocky road for the remainder of it. You can pretty much pinpoint exactly where the switch occurs. Overall it's an easy road but I did this on a weekday and could not imagine doing it on a weekend with more traffic. This trail attracts inexperienced drivers with no off-roading knowledge, and cars that should be staying on paved roads. I would say what makes this drive tough is that you can go for a long time before finding a spot to allow passing. Then you have the hikers with no off-road etiquette parking their stock crossovers and trucks in the passing spots, so your pullover spots are even more limited. I definitely enjoyed the views and the easy drive, and it made for a much easier hike to the Princeton summit. And although I say the drive is "easy", the trail has some considerable exposure at the top. It doesn't take much in that narrow section at the top to take a fatal plunge down the mountain, and the road is narrow up there.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Quick easy trail with beautiful views from the top.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail is open all the way! Nice fun little trail not hard at all. Went up in my 2013 F150

Author: Official Crew
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
**Road Maintenance Alert** The Mount Princeton Trail will be closed from Monday 6/22/20 - Friday 6/26/20 for road maintenance. The Forest Service will have a dozer working the lower section of the road and the public is asked to stay clear of the area.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail is open to the top. Great views!

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
The trail is currently open to just past Waypoint 5.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Had a nice trip up and back as there were only a few parked vehicles along the way. Completed this trail again in my stock full size Chevy leading a small Overland Bound group while in the area for 14erFest.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
It never occurred to me how busy this road might be with hikers during peak season. Avoid weekends if possible. Vehicles were parked in every open space nearly the full length of the trail. Some places were very tight getting a full size truck through. Thankfully our timing was good and we got up and down without major incident. There were even 4 Pinzgauers there today.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Amazing views at the top! This trail is pretty easy right up until the very end. Once you get to the top the view takes your breath away. A lot of the trail is narrow so oncoming vehicles create the biggest challenge.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The snow has receded enough to allow the trail to be fully open.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Seasonal Closure
Offroaded on:
Trail is under a season closure until April 15th.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Snow has fallen making this trail impassable.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail is clear and open all the way to the end.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
This trail is open for the season, but the trail is not passible above timberline due to snow.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Seasonal Closure
Offroaded on:
Seasonal closure until April 15th, 2018.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Snow has fallen making this trail impassable until next season

Questions & Answers (4)

Q: Hi Marcus! What can you tell us about Tigger Peak? Is it worthy of its own Trail report?
–Neal A. Tew (07/19/2019)
–Marcus Trusty (07/19/2019)
Q: When do we think Mt. Princeton will be open this year given all the snowfall? Mid June?
–Sean (05/23/2019)
–Marcus Trusty (05/24/2019)
Q: Will a standard size 4WD Silverado 1500 be ok on this trail?
–Andy (08/05/2018)
–Marcus Trusty (08/06/2018)
Q: When does this trail normally open completely? I saw an April 16 trip report, but just wondering how soon till it's possible to reach the top.
–Patrick Cox (05/05/2018)
–Marcus Trusty (05/10/2018)
–Patrick Cox (05/05/2018)
–Marcus Trusty (05/05/2018)

Writer Information

Marcus Trusty

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Marcus is a 3rd generation Buena Vista, Colorado native who grew up bouncing around the central Colorado mountains in the back of his dad's CJ5. During his younger years, Marcus grew to appreciate public lands and the recreation opportunities backroads and 4-wheel drive trails offer. Marcus has been wheeling for 20 years now and has wheeled in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and California. Until a few years ago Marcus had just been a participant in the wheeling community, but he has become much more active in preserving trails and working to make sure the wheeling community has their access maintained for future generations. Marcus helped to found Colorado Off Road Enterprise - CORE, based out of Buena Vista. CORE has worked with the Forest Service and BLM and has volunteer agreements in place with both organizations. CORE also has a Forest Service trail adoption agreement in place for Grizzly Lake, Pomeroy Lake, Hancock Lake, Hancock Pass, and Tincup Pass, Tomichi Pass, Williams Pass, Ptarmigan Lake, Mineral Basin, Clohesy Lake, Lost Canyon, Champion Mill, Iron Mike Mine, and Slide Lake. If Marcus is not working you can generally find him somewhere out on the trails around Buena Vista.
For individual use only, not to be shared.