“One of America's best hiking challenges!”
The Manitou Springs Incline, also known as the Manitou Incline or simply the Incline, is a popular hiking trail rising above Manitou Springs, Colorado, near Colorado Springs. The trail is the remains of a former incline railway whose tracks washed out during a rock slide in 1990. The Incline is famous for its sweeping views and steep grade, as steep as 68% in places, making it a fitness challenge for locals in the Colorado Springs area. The incline gains over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one mile. The Incline was constructed under the ownership of Dr. Newton N. Brumback (1854-1923) as a funicular in 1907, for the purpose of providing access to water tanks at the top of the mountain that would provide gravity fed water pressure to the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. Originally, the railroad was constructed to access the hydroelectric plant and service the water pipes, but shortly after its construction, the railway was opened as a tourist attraction. The Incline's original summit house was a rudimentary building constructed from left over materials from the Incline's construction, and burned down in 1914. The summit house was quickly rebuilt into a more elaborate, comfortable, and safer structure, offering shelter from storms and the elements. The 1914 structure remained until replaced by an updated summit house in 1958, which remained until it was dismantled after the Incline's closure. The Incline operated under the Pikes Peak Cog Railway until a rock slide in 1990 washed out the rail bed and the Cog Railway decided to not repair the tracks. Since its closure as a railway in 1990, the trail has steadily grown in popularity as a hiking trail and fitness challenge. The base of the Incline sits at 6,600 feet and the trail climbs 2,000 feet in just over 3⁄4 mile. Parts of the trail are extremely broken and steep and will require even the fittest of hikers or trail runners to scramble over the broken rocks and steep trail. Sections of the trail have exposed pipe from the days when the Incline was a hydroelectric utility system. Hiking the trail should not be undertaken by the physically unfit, as there is no vehicle access to the trail and anyone injured or suffering a medical emergency will have to walk or be carried down by other hikers. At the top of the Incline, there is a tie-in to the Barr Trail that allows for hikers to descend without going back down the Incline, which is considered bad form, especially during busier times of the day. Due to the close proximity to the large and active population center of Colorado Springs, the large military population of nearby Army and Air Force bases, and the US Olympic Training Center, the Incline has become a wildly popular fitness destination for those craving an intense cardio workout. About 2/3 of the way up, a Barr Trail switchback passes just a few yards from the Incline, and there is a pathway that allows those who wish to exit the Incline the opportunity to take the Barr Trail back down. Locals refer to this point as the 'Bailout'. The Incline is at its steepest grade just after the bailout for about another 200 feet, when it reaches the 'false summit', a semi-crest in the trail that obscured the true summit to hikers due to its extreme grade. Those who reach the false summit are about 3/4 of the way to the top, but still have several hundred feet to climb. When standing at the summit of the Incline, you will be looking East-Northeast towards Colorado Springs. If you travel south down the hill, you will pick up a trail that links into the Barr trail, a much less steep path down the mountain and the preferred descent route during busy trail hours.
I did the incline with my boyfriend last summer. Boy, was it really difficult for us! This was definitely one of the most tiring hikes that we've ever done. The trail was definitely not easy. The elevation gets really high very fast. Be sure to bring lots and lots of water with you. And sunscreen, too. Don't forget that. You can bring a hat with you, too, to protect your face from the heat of the sun. It just saddens me that there were people giving up and going back without even making it to the top. Whenever you're tired and feel like giving up, just imagine how awesome the view is from the top. 'Cause darling, when we got to the peak, the view was simply magnificent. It's surely worth the trek.
This was by far the hardest 0.9 miles I've hiked! But the views up top were Definitely worth it. Very physically challenging. Many people were turning around and hiking back down. If you can make it to the top, go down the side trail- the views are spectacular!
My family did the Manitou Incline summer 2013. And will go again. Remember water and sun screen. The views are beautiful and worth the work.
It is NOT easy or fast. Proceed with caution. and PLEASE leave your pets off the trail!
If you're going to do it, be prepared! It's no cake walk! However I've passed tons of different people of all different ages. Tourists- don't forget About the altitude difference. It takes many of us 6 months to adjust. Drink lots of water!!!
Thank you for making the point to tell people to take Barr Trail down. Its a pain (especially on busy days) to deal with people coming back down when there are a few spots that only have room for one person to ascend or descend at a time.
Play it safe and allow yourself 3 hours for the round trip. I'm a 42 year old runner, my wife is in good shape and we have two fairly active kids; 13 and 11.We expected to complete it in two but ended up missing our Cog Railway reservation. ( They managed to move us to a later time at no charge.)Street parking is insane at $10 an hour, but if you're lucky, you can park in front of the chateau for 4 hours at $10 total.
The Incline is definitely not for the faint of heart! What used to be a railway to the top of the mountain is now a challenging hike popular with locals, Olympic athletes, and military personnel. It takes some physical stamina as well as determination to make it to the top, but the gorgeous views and sheer satisfaction make it worth it. It is about 2,000 feet of elevation gain in less than a mile with a false peak about 2/3rds of the way up. Barr Trail can be accessed from the top or from a cutoff about half way up the Incline (if you find yourself in over your head), and it makes for a really fun run down after a difficult hike up. Parking is available directly at the base for $5 (which goes to maintaining the trail) or for an hourly rate along the streets closer to downtown Manitou. Be sure to support the local businesses with a celebratory meal and/or an Incline t-shirt.
Overall, it's a great place to meet interesting people, but I would only recommend it to those really looking for a challenge.
Highly recommend for anyone who likes the outdoors, likes to hike, or just really wants to challenge themselves. Beautiful views and the trail back down is definitely a lot of fun in itself!
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- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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Credit Cards Accepted
Not Wheelchair Accessible
No Public Restrooms