This 14,197-foot peak is the most recognizable of the Collegiate Peaks as it towers over Buena Vista like a triple-headed mountain god. It looks forbidding, but thanks to a good road leading high on the peak, it is actually one of the easiest climbs of the Sawatch 14ers. A high-clearance vehicle can make it to 11,000 feet, making for a relatively tame 6.5-mile hike with 3,200 feet of climbing.
“When you count on hitching a ride up a rough road, you probably won’t see a soul all day. That was my experience in 2006 when I had the entire mountain to myself. Unfortunately, since I have a low-clearance passenger car, I had to walk all the way up the road to the trailhead.”
- The road leading to the trailhead, Chaffee County Road 162, is an incredibly popular area in summer, with camping allowed only in designated campgrounds that are often full by Friday afternoons. Make reservations or have a back-up camping plan. If you have a high-clearance vehicle, you can also find camping along the road up the peak at about 11,000 feet.
- As you approach the southeast ridge at 13,600 feet, you’ll feel like you’re almost at the top. It’s a false summit. Try not to be disappointed. You’re nearly there.
- You’ve climbed Mount Princeton. Why not reward yourself with a soak at nearby Mount Princeton Hot Springs?
Recommended season(s): Summer to early fall
—R. Scott Rappold