Cascade, Colorado

Run the Famous Manitou Incline

3.7 Miles Total - 2000 ft gain - Loop Trail

Originally 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 Tips

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.

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Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Awesome and hard workout

I did this trail twice. It’s an very nice, hard en rewarding workout. Please don’t go back down the manitou incline. This is dangerous, annoying for the people coming up and very hard on you knees. Use the bare trail instead (much easier and also an nice trail)

Challenging Hike

A challenging hike especially since I opted to go back down the incline which was hard on the knees! Be prepared for a challenge and bring lots of water!

Incredible

The Manitou Incline is an intense challenge, but upon finishing I felt looked worse than it is. That doesn't mean it is easy. Wouldn't recommend it for people just looking to get into shape. However, it's a good feeling of accomplishment the first time completing the massive staircase. The connector trail back down is gorgeous with views of Pike's Peak and other beautiful terrain. Great place to spend an afternoon. Don't forget to stop in Manitou Springs for a beer and a meal afterward!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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