Mount Princeton Trail

HARD 106 reviews
#8 of 117 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
3,320 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash




mountain biking

nature trips

off road driving

rock climbing



trail running







1 day ago

Beautiful hike!! A lot of the negative comments below can be overcome by good alpine practices. The peak is very obviously exposed, you can see this easily from 285. An early alpine start helps with sun too. We started at 5:30 and summited 2.5 hours later. The trail is wonderfully marked, just look for the next 2-3 cairns, not only the one ahead. The trail moves through a scree field, not sure what the references to “huge boulders” are. There are some but it is more scree than scramble. All in all, be ready for a beautiful and engaging hike. Definitely worth driving the Jeep road if you have the car.

1 day ago

This was my husband and my first 14er. Granted we have nothing to compare it to and the views were awesome at the top, but I don’t think we will ever do this one again. It is 95% straight rock scramble with a very poorly marked trail. It took us 9 hours to do 7 miles, and we are not slow hikers. It just takes that much concentration that by the end you are not only physically exhausted, but mentally exhausted. Good time, but beware it’s all rocks.

23 days ago

We did this on July 5th. It was 2 of our friend’s first 14ers (one her first week living in CO). All 6 of us did fine. Minimal long breaks and a decent amount of short stop, go stop go breaks. All avid hikers, but the last mile is brutal. There is no trail lots of rock climbing. A helicopter landed down the trail above treelike while we were approaching the cautious and leave early! A storm came in fast around noon, it stayed away but still! Beautiful hike and a great 14er to make 11 down!

27 days ago

We went up the 4wd road 3.2 to the towers and the road is very narrow and you need a truck or Jeep, it it pretty deep rollers and dips. We parked there and walked up the road close to 2 miles before you even get on the trail. It was not our favorite it’s very exposed no trees to start and it’s basically boulders the whole way. It raps around the valley and then you get up to summit and it’s all loose rocks and dirt. Not well maintained at all.
Not our most memorable and no wild flowers just stinky weeds.

29 days ago

Drove my lifted wrangler up the four wheel drive round as far as you could go (to the gate and giant cairn where the trail starts) nothing technical about the road but you definitely want a high clearance 4wd vehicle. Not my favorite 14er. The whole trail is just huge boulders the whole way up. The views are nice at the top. Wasn’t very hard compared to other ones I’ve done.

1 month ago

I started at the bottom parking lot as there is no way I would drive up that road. Lots of others do with the right vehicles and I still wouldn’t do it, then there are those that attempt with a low clearance vehicle, nuts! Because of the road it is fairly easy to hike, steep but okay. This is my first Fourteener so it will take me more than once to reach the top, especially from the lower parking lot. I sort of feel those that drive up are just cheating. I could do it in a heartbeat if I did that. I made it up about 5.5 miles today at 11500’ still had two more miles to go but was tired and hot. I started at 830am but will start at sunrise the next time to stay cool and more shaded. I did a total of a little over 11 miles so the total for this round trip would probably be just over 15.

1 month ago

This was my 19th 14er and by far my least favorite. The trail was well marked to the ridge but non-existent after that. The first 1.5 miles or so was nice, up the road then switchbacks and a traverse through alpine meadow. After that it was a long traverse through boulders on a well marked trail, not difficult. Then two huge cairns marked the beginning of switch backs through alpine meadow to obtain the ridge. Up to this point I enjoyed the trail and my dog was doing great. From this point to the summit it was around 1 mile with still about 1500 feet gain to go. There were scattered cairns along the ridge but very far apart. We'd walk towards one to see another one directly below us by 50ft. It seems they were randomly placed, perhaps by other hikers who were trying to mark their own route. We just tried to stay close to the ridge. After 2 hours of hiking through this having to pay attention to every step and stop to plan the direction of travel with some scrambling we were mentally tired. Not the best first 14er for my 11 month old dog! We finally got to the base of the summit and again, no trail. The train was loose talus and scree. At several points we were on all fours trying to get traction scrambling up with anything we could hold on to. It felt like trying to climb up a rock pile at a quarry. On the way down skid so much we finally just sat down and slid on our butts. The whole trail of 6.8 miles took us 9 hours! Compare that to Mt Elbert where we hiked 10 miles in 5 hours. This was too technical for my taste. I enjoy scrambling, I liked Mt Yale and Pikes Peak, but this was not fun for me. Part of it was I was just unprepared for so much of it to be so rocky and I would not have brought my dog. I will not be doing this 14er again!

1 month ago

We rode ATV on this trail. We loved it! Rocky towards the top, but beautiful!!

1 month ago

Driving up to the radio towers (or even further) is definitely worth doing if your vehicle can handle it. It seemed like most of the hike was through the boulder fields (which is really all of it once you get above tree line). It’s rated as difficult, and I’m guessing that’s because of the lack of actual trail. You’re mostly scrambling through rocks. However, it was still one of the easier 14ers I’ve done because you can drive so high up and the trail is a road up until tree line.

1 month ago

4wd trail clear but you need high clearance to make it to the Princeton trail. Trail is easy to follow until 13,000 feet then it becomes a scramble to the top with defined trail!!! Made it in 2 1/2 hours to the top

2 months ago

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

2 months 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

2 months 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!

3 months 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!

8 months ago

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

10 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 :)

11 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.

11 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!

11 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.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

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!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

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.

Friday, July 21, 2017

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

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Lots of rocks and scrambling but with the summit!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

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.

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