Author- Jncraton

Conquer the Manitou Incline: A Thrilling Adventure on Colorado’s Steepest Hiking Trail

July 10, 2023
2 mins read

The Manitou Incline in Colorado is a unique and challenging hiking trail. It offers breathtaking views and an intense workout. Built in 1907 as a tramway route, it consists of approximately 2,768 steps over a distance of 0.9 miles, with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet.

The Manitou Incline is best hiked from June to September. However, snow can be expected at the beginning and end of the summer season. There are no permits or fees required to hike the Incline, but there may be a parking fee depending on where you park.

In the 1990s, when it was still a private property, Manitou Incline’s popularity grew through word-of-mouth among Colorado Springs athletes. By the late 2000s, it attracted around 500,000 visitors annually. In 2013, the trail became legal, opening it up to even more hikers.

It’s important to note that the Incline is an up-only trail, and the descent is done on the Barr Trail, which winds back over 2.75 miles to the parking area. This hike is not recommended for those with a fear of heights or anyone looking for an easy stroll.

The difficulty of the incline lies in its steepness and lack of rest points. It is recommended for fit hikers who are prepared for a strenuous workout. Proper footwear, sunscreen, water, sunglasses, and a hat are essential for the hike. Families can attempt the trail with young children, but it’s important to be prepared with enough water and snacks.

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During the hike, the initial easy start gradually becomes more challenging, with the sun beating down and many other climbers on the trail. Solitude is rare, as hikers constantly pass or are passed by others. Finally reaching the top after about an hour of climbing provides a rewarding view and a chance to rest before descending on the Barr Trail.

Wildlife sightings on the Incline may include squirrels and other small mammals, but dogs are not allowed on the trail. Nearby attractions include the Garden of the Gods, known for its natural rock formations, and the United States Air Force Academy.

The Incline begins above the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and steadily climbs upward, with a section called “the bailout” offering an alternative route to Barr Trail for an easier descent.

The grade of the incline becomes incredibly steep, reaching 68 percent near the “false summit,” which can deceive hikers into thinking they’ve reached the top when they haven’t. After an additional 200 feet, hikers finally reach the true summit, where they can enjoy views of Manitou Springs and a ruined train station.

Parking near the trailhead can be challenging, with metered street parking available or the option to take a free shuttle from Manitou Springs. It’s advisable to arrive early in the morning to secure a parking spot.

While the Manitou Incline offers a unique and challenging experience, it’s important to note that it may not be suitable for everyone. Safety precautions should be taken, including being aware of personal fitness levels and heeding the warnings about the trail’s difficulty. With proper preparation and a sense of adventure, the Manitou Incline can provide an unforgettable hiking experience in Colorado Springs.

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