Are you the type that loves athletic challenges? While you’re visiting Manitou Springs, the Manitou Incline is the place to test your physical fitness by climbing over 2,000 feet of stairs at close to 50% average grade.
The Incline, as it is known to residents, is the site of an old cable car track that was used to bring supplies to the top of Pikes Peak. Once construction was finished on Pikes Peak, the Incline was turned into a tourist attraction for visitors to see the majestic views.
Free online reservations required to hike:
Reservations are available between 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Every 30 minutes, up to 65 people can reserve a spot between 6-10 a.m., 45 people between 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 25 people between 2-6 p.m. Visit ColoradoSprings.gov/Incline to make a reservation up to one week in advance.
A rockslide unfortunately damaged the original Incline in the early 90s, and the rails were removed. Locals began using the set of cable car ties as a staircase, and the Incline was reborn into the challenging and steep hike that it remains today. The cable car ties were transformed into a set of steps by The Friends of the Incline, a local group formed to ensure the safety and integrity of the popular trail.
The steps help to prevent trips and falls over the uneven rail ties any longer. They make getting up the Incline that much faster for the adventurous souls who attempt it.
Year Round Hiking Trail in Manitou Springs
The 0.9 mile long Incline trail is open daily from 6am to 6pm. Pets are not welcome on the trail. Bring a lot of water and wear proper shoes. This is a free activity, though you are welcome to donate to Incline Friends to help this attraction in healthy condition for years to come. Here are some trail stats:
- Difficulty: Hard
- Length: 0.9 mile (1.4 km) up Incline, 3 miles down Barr Trail
- Summit Elevation: 8,550 feet (2,606 m)
- Base Elevation: 6,530 ft (2012 m)
- Elevation Gain: 2,020 ft (615 m)
- Average Grade: 41%
- Steepest Grade: 68%
If you’re looking for an easy, free hike, be warned: the Incline is NOT for the faint of heart. It requires 2,744 steps at between 6,500 and 8,500 feet above sea level. And although seasoned athletes can complete the one-mile trail in about 30 minutes, give yourself an hour or two to climb these steps up the side of the mountain.
Bailing Out – 2/3 of the way up there is an option to detour to Barr Trail and head back down from here. The Incline is sure to give even the most physically fit a serious challenge, so do not attempt this hike unless you are already acclimated to the elevation and aware of your current fitness level.
The Summit – Once you hit the very last step, the view will make your jaw drop in awe. The top of the Incline leads to Barr Trail, which can take you on the long 3 mile walk to the peak of Pikes Peak, but an easier trail leads the way down. It is not recommended to walk down the Incline–could you imagine tumbling from the very top?
The Incline welcomes around 70,000 visitors a year, making it one of the most popular attractions not only in Manitou but in the Colorado Springs area as well. Don’t miss this intense and beautiful hike the next time you’re visiting the Pikes Peak region.
Free Shuttle – It’s highly recommended that you take the city’s free Rt. 33 shuttle to the Incline, as it is located off of a residential street with limited parking. The easiest place to meet the shuttle is in Memorial Park in Manitou. There is plenty of free parking in this area and the shuttle stops just off of Old Man’s Trail Road. Shuttle operates from 6am to 8pm every 20 minutes.
Season: Year round
Hours: Open from 6am to 6pm
Admission: Free, but REGISTRATION REQUIRED (up to one week ahead)
Pets: No, not welcome on the trail.