Everyone says it's tough. But let me tell you, it is actually BRUTAL. One mile straight up (~2700 steps at an average grade of 45%, and a 2,000 foot elevation gain) is no laughing matter. Actually, I take that back. You can laugh at me climbing on all fours in certain spots where it was a 68% incline.
Amid this challenge, there were a few positive moments for us: (1) I got to communicate with a chipmunk && it actually responded back -...although I had no idea what I was saying so if you speak Chipmunk, I want further lessons - and (2) I realized really how patient Brandon is - sorry I took too many breaks on the climb up and picture stops on the way down!
Below are our tips on how to conquer this beloved challenge! ♡
History of the Incline
The Manitou Incline was built in 1907, as a means to carry construction materials to the top of Mount Manitou / Pikes Peak. After that, it turned into a tourist attraction that brought tourists to the top to enjoy sweeping panoramas of the Colorado Springs area. The railway closed down in 1990 following a rock slide that badly damaged parts of the tracks. While the rails were removed, the planks were not, thus forming the now daunting staircase that many of us hope to conquer!
Getting There: Manitou Incline is located in the town of Manitou Springs, about 78 miles (1.5 hours) south of Denver. The best way to access the incline is to drive to Manitou Springs.
Parking Situation: Once you get into Manitou Springs, you have a few options for parking. The main thing to note is that the parking right next to the Barr Trailhead and along Ruxton Ave is very limited. We arrived at 8am on a Saturday and most of the spots were taken, as were all of the parallel parking spots along the side of Ruxton Ave. We found a spot in the parking lot across the street from the Barr Trailhead, but we paid cash ($10) for our parking spot. The town of Manitou Springs also offers a free shuttle to the trailhead - you can park right across from the pick-up location for free at the 10 Old Man’s Trail parking lot (Hiawatha Gardens Building).
What to Bring: (1) cash for parking, (2) sunscreen, (3) hat + layers, (4) plenty of water, (5) energy snacks.
Planning for the Hike
This hike is hard! It is about 1 mile up the Incline + about 6 miles down along the Barr Trail. Please make sure that you take your time and are in adequate physical shape to tackle this beast! We highly suggest planning this hike for an overcast (but non-stormy) day, because the Incline is fully exposed to the sun. Take your time, pull off to the side for breaks, and drink plenty of water as you hike!
There is a false summit for this trail. What does that mean?! So in the first picture of this blog post (scroll up), you see what you think is the top of the trail. That is wrong. The top that you see is only 3/4 of the way up. After this point, there are about 300 more steps to go to make it to the official top of the Manitou Incline. If you’ve had enough, feel free to stop at the false summit. Look to the side, and you’ll see that the Barr Trail bisects the Incline. The views from the true top and the false summit are essentially the same.
Please note that this trail is NOT dog friendly - so please find a puppy-sitter before you embark on this journey.
Stay safe and have fun as you hike the famous Manitou Incline ♡ Leave a comment with how long it took you to complete it :)
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