Mount Princeton Trail

HARD 79 reviews
#10 of 115 trails in

Mount Princeton Trail is a 6.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Nathrop, Colorado that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

6.8 miles
3320 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




mountain biking

nature trips

off road driving

rock climbing



trail running







10 days ago

Does anyone have a pin of where the lower lot is? Just want to make sure I start in the right spot. Thx!

17 days ago

You DEFINITELY need 4WD and a high clearance vehicle if you want a shorter hike by parking up by the radio towers or beyond... which I'd recommend, but we made of the mistake of bringing my Subaru Impreza, which is 4WD, but such a terrible road with high humps and deep holes that it took over an hour of very impressive driving by my boyfriend to get up the few miles of dirt road and we nearly got stuck or caused serious car damage on the way down... luckily just a dent and scrape to the muffler and the bumper just clips back on haha

Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the top due to an unexpected bout of altitude sickness... not our first 14ers and were very well prepared (fed, hydrated, etc.), but remember it can happen to anyone! Only fix is to get back down. We'll be back to try this one again though! With a better vehicle... haha

25 days ago

The road up to the radio towers is dry and 4WD is recommended. The hike from 11,000’ to the summit and back is about 6.5 miles. If you start at the lower parking lot it’s over 13 miles. Lots of rocks, boulders, and loose scree. So make sure you have good hiking boots. I saw people do this in tennis shoes which is not recommended. There are some crossings of snow to encounter that can make it slick. Take plenty of water! The views at the top are amazing!

1 month ago

We made it just above the boulder field in August, 2017. We made the mistake as other have, of starting from the Young Life parking lot. Makes for a very long hike. We’re going back for more this summer and hoping to summit- driving up to the cell tower. Reached the summit at 16 when I was much younger and didn’t know it was tough. Oh, the ignorance of youth!

6 months ago

Very fun and moderately hard hike. Had a blast doing it as my first 14er!

8 months ago

Summitted 7/29/17 and it quite literally rained the entire ascent! Quite a rocky, boulder-y trail which makes it seem longer than it is. Can't speak to the views as we were in a cloud at the top but I'm sure they are beautiful on a clear day. Next time I'll wait it out for better weather :)

9 months ago

The directions are bit confusing. When arriving by 4WD (SUV works too) to the TV towers, don't get distracted by the fact there are only 2 parking spots. You can continue onward and find some parking along the road that does not stop at TV towers (as one would assume from the instructions in National Geographic's guide). Continue of foot on 4WD road (but not all the way to the end (wooden cross). Watch for the spot where to turn from the 4WD road to the path (I missed it and made a huge detour). The trail itself is not well marked. And it disappears at 12,700 feet altitude (where switchbacks are supposed to start). You must scramble through the boulder fields occasionally crossing one of the multitude paths. The last bit - from the saddle to the top - you just press on straight ahead. Remember to bring gloves. It's fun and views from the top are sunning. At this time of the year the leaves are turning to yellow adding special touch to the scenery.

9 months ago

Hardest hike I have ever done. Made the mistake of beginning at the bottom by Frontier Ranch, which made a 16 mile trip out of what would have been a 7 mile hike. Would definitely recommend driving up the really rough road with a high clearance vehicle so you can save your energy for the actual mountain. Trail is marked but somewhat hard to follow near the summit, look out for wooden markers and cairns. Lots of boulder scrambling, rocks, and loose gravel. The way down is a lot of sliding on small rocks and gravel, bring gloves to protect you hands while sliding down. Good views at the top, but also a ton of flies. I feel like I really accomplished something big summiting Mt. Princeton, but that hike took everything out of me and everyone in out group. Good luck and enjoy!

9 months ago

the lateral trail of rocks and the climb are definitely earns the 3 difficult rating. 3/4 of the hike are big and loose rocks. The trail is steep and sometimes hard to find. We lost track and just climbed up. But, this was hard and my favorite 14er by far.

10 months ago

I don't know what people are talking about when they say this isn't a beautiful trail! It's a 14'er, rocks are going to be abound! I saw many marmots, pikas, chipmunks and crows circling up at the top. If your eyes are willing, there is beauty all around. Stop and listen for water running under the rocks. This was my first solo 14'er hike and it was wonderful. Trail wasn't always easy to follow but keep your eyes up and on the lookout for cairns. I will say I drove up to the cell towers with my Subaru Outback & was very afraid that I might not make it! But I did. And it was 100% worth it.

10 months ago

great hike. everything was really well marked. you can actually drive a little past the cell tower but parking gets sparse. try at your own risk. beautiful views!

10 months ago

Boulder fields most of the way. Not a pretty mountain at all. We got bored and turned around at 12,400. There are much prettier 14ers to do. Plus the road up is a monster.

11 months ago

Fantastic mountain. Trail was hard to find & follow. Somewhat technical.

11 months ago

Lots of rocks and scrambling but with the summit!

11 months ago

We started at the first parking lot and walked up the Mt Princeton Rd. It was a 4.25 mile walk up the road to get on the mountain.
Then it was a short but pretty hike across tundra before the boulder field which was very wide and really slowed us down. We turned back at 12,200 because we had already crossed 2 snow fields and there were 2 more to go and a steep scramble up to the ridge before we could summit.
Our energy and legs were sapped from the very long walk up a rocky keep road. The views were very beautiful on the way up though.
If you have a decent all wheel drive car you can make it up the dirt road to the towers and park there. It would save your legs for the climb up the mountain.

Monday, April 17, 2017

This is prob my least fav 14er. The road to the trailhead is really rough, the trail itself is super rocky with a lot of exposure in the end, the view is not that impressive. Weather wasn't good for us, it was raining at the summit but not thunderstorms (hard to tell the difference for a while)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Lots of scrambling, make sure you have tight shoes/ boots.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tough one for sure. Got to experience a "mountain girls" photo shoot right as we summited ...must be heaven. Tough, all rock, false summits...hard but worth the views. Bring poles, high boots, aspirin, rain jacket, water, & sunscreen. Got pushed down then mountain by lightning popping off like a 1000' off the ridge. Bluebird going up and clouds came off the ridge about 15 minutes as we started descending....that was just past noon. Park up high by the tower, otherwise you are adding some hard miles to your trip. Make sure you have a 6-pack on ice in your car when you get back.


Friday, July 08, 2016

Mt Princeton isn't much more than an enormous pile of rocks.. do not look for a path in the gully, just do you best to switchback up. be prepared for lots of rock hopping and scrambling up, glissading down.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Enjoyed this hike but have to warn everyone, it took us 8 hours round trip to complete this. If you don't have a high clearance vehicle it is hard to get close to the trail head. I feel like the time estimate needs to have some sort of disclosure to it. Still enjoyed the hike just thought I would share my experience so that someone else does not make the same mistake I did.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

This was my first 14er and holy hell it was difficult. I was close to summiting (300 yds left) and heard thunder so our group turned around. It was mentally and physically exhausting but I am glad I at least attempted it. I am a novice when it comes to tackling boulders so this was a bit challenging. The views were fantastic and I gained a huge sense of accomplishment from attempting this great mountain. Mother nature put me in my place! Glad I took ibuprofen before hand!! I tip my hat to everyone who attempts and summits Mt. Princeton.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Second 14er I did 6 years ago. Second time I climbed seemed harder than the first.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Great Summit! Did not enjoy the rocks. Start early.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The road up to the trailhead was extremely rough and you definitely need a 4WD vehicle to clear it. We went on a weekday and there was barely anyone there. It seemed like an eternity that we were on loose rock and it got very old very fast. We got there at about 6am and storm clouds came in at about 9am causing us to have to turn back right before summiting. The way back was even tougher due to the loose rock and the fact that we were exhausted. I wouldn't recommend this 14er to novices- go to bierstadt or quandary.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

I was not impressed hiked about 3 miles in and turned around. It may have gotten prettier farther up but I wasn't willing to take the chance. Did not like walking the road up to the Colorado mountain trail. I am a photographer hiker and never pulled out my camera. But with that said maybe I didn't go far enough in.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Mt. Princeton is a great 14er to summit. A good portion of the trail is not extremely clear, as you are hiking across boulder fields. I think this makes it a fun hike. It was also nice that it isn't a very crowded trail. There is a restroom at the lower trailhead/parking lot. If one has a 4WD vehicle you can continue to drive up and find parking along the side of the road. It should be noted that this road does have some rough portions.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The rocks!! If you dislike hiking on loose rock, this trail is not for you. Once you turn off of the main trail onto the foot trail that leads to the summit, almost all of it is navigating over rocks.
Other than that, this hike is amazing, The view from the summit is breathtaking and, in my opinion, totally worth the effort. We summited on September 6th and the weather was beautiful the whole time. A few clouds, but no snow or rain.
If you want a challenging but rewarding experience, this is a great 14er.

off road driving
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

So much to see. Beautiful views. Lots of ATVs and 4x4s. It's pretty neat to drive up to St. Elmo from Princeton and feed the chipmunks and visit the general store

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Gorgeous hike, lots of amazing spots for photos. Hardest 14er in the collegiate range. Went up with a group of 8 and three had to turn back because of the difficulty. Lots of bouldering. Great workout though.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Almost the entire trail is loose rock, scree and steep loose gravel and dirt. We parked at the cell tower and i would park at the end of the road and hike back to the trail if i were to do this one again.
the rough rocky trail was unexpected and it took us considerably longer than anticipated. Others we met on the trail concurred with this assessment. The views , as with most all CO 14ners i have climbed, were spectacular. The Mt Princeton hot springs were a sight for sore legs at the end of the day.

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