Run the Famous Manitou Incline
Colorado › The Incline
Added by Brian Lewis
Tackle one of the great fitness challenges in the Rocky Mountain Region. Climbing this old cog railroad bed, gaining over 2,000 feet in less than a mile, will lead you to an 8,950 foot summit. You can use the Incline app to go for a speed record against local Olympic athletes, military members and fitness freaks.
If you're ready for a fitness challenge like no other, look no further than the Manitou Incline. The trail climbs the remnants of an old cog railway bed, gaining 2000 feet of elevation in less than a mile. Busy all year round, the popular trail is used by everyone from Army Rangers and Olympic hopefuls to local families and vacationing flatlanders looking for a Rocky Mountain workout.
From the parking lot, the trail climbs gradually on wooden railroad ties. It's virtually impossible to get lost...up is the only way to go! After about a third of a mile the grade steepens significantly until the gnarliest sections, which are between the halfway point and around the two-thirds mark. This section is very steep, with grades of almost 70% and some areas where users might feel more comfortable on all fours.
Around two-thirds of the way up there is a convenient "bailout" point where the Incline intersects with the Barr Trail and those not up to the task of summitting can easily shorten their ascent and return to the parking lot on a much more gradual trail.
Beware the dreaded false summit up ahead and know there are still a few hundred feet of climbing beyond it. But, those who persevere will top out at just under 9,000 feet, greeted with a birds-eye view of Manitou Springs and sweeping vistas of Colorado Springs and the plains to the east.
Rather than stumbling down the Incline, continue on to the newly-built Barr Trail connector for a longer, but easier-on-the-knees descent on the famous Barr Trail back to the trailhead. Just keep an ear out for for the "on your left" of trail runners who use this popular route as a hill workout. Returning via Barr makes a nice four-mile loop back to the car.
Parking can be a challenge (read: impossible on weekends) in the tiny lot near the trailhead or along narrow Ruxton Avenue. Pay close attention to parking lot signs and meters - you will get a ticket (or worse) if you ignore them. Many locals park in downtown Manitou and extend their workout by jogging up Ruxton to the trailhead. Or better yet, use the free shuttle that runs from downtown to the trailhead every 20 minutes from 10:00am to 8:00pm during the summer months.
- Running or fitness clothing and footwear
- Camera to prove that you made it to the top
- Microspikes or Yaktrax are very helpful in winter conditions
- Money for parking fee ($5 in lot or use nearby meters)
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Tough but worth it
If you're looking for a really challenging hike, that has great views, this is it. Once at the top you can see everything in the surrounding Manitou/Colorado springs area. A definite bucket list item.
This was rad looking place. I literally stood at the bottom of this climb and said "nope I'm not doing it". After a long few days of visiting Colorado and hiking almost 5+ miles a day i don't think my body could physically handle these steps and incline.
One Mile Of Stairs
It's literally a mile of stairs that goes straight up. A lot of fun, and a great physical challenge! I'm moderately fit, and was able to make it to the top in a little under an hour. We took some breaks along the way. Also, beware that the incline is very popular; it's almost always full of people (unless you come very early).
Applaud you runners
Oh man! I definitely can't run up and down this thing, but will cheer all others that do. One time, I was hiking with a buddy and he told me to continue on because he was "too slow." So when I got to the top, I waited. Turned out, he had turned around and went into town to wait for me at the bottom with a margarita in hand. This hike is not for everyone. If you're not used to climbing stairs, it will knock the wind out of you. Definitely rewarding and a Colorado staple.
Couldn't agree more that this is a killer butt kick of a workout/hike. The climb up is intense and I like to always shoot for a new personal record. The hike down is nice and easy as well, very enjoyable. I like to do this several times at the beginning of the summer to get back in hiking/climbing shape for the bigger adventures in summer! It's also nice to stop at Rudy's BBQ on the way home before getting back in i25. ;)
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