Length: 1 mile up, 2.5 miles down Barr Trail
Trail Difficulty: Advanced
Elevation Gain: 2,000+ in less than one mile
Recommended for: hikers only - no pets allowed
Cost: Free, but you may have to pay for parking
RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. Make your reservation here.
The Manitou Springs Incline is an extremely difficult hike that gains almost 2,000 vertical feet in about one mile. It can be completed by Olympic athletes in around 20 minutes, but it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours for those who are not in peak shape.
About three-quarters of the way up, the Incline intersects with Barr Trail and you can take that way back down if you like. Don't be fooled by the false summit. After you crest it, there are still about 300 steps to go. Once you've made it to the top, turn to the left and use Barr Trail to hike back down to the bottom. You must use Barr Trail to return to the bottom to prevent congestion on the Incline.
Hikers who want a shorter loop or may have underestimated the difficulty of hiking the Incline can now hop off on the new Northern Incline Return Trail. This new trail will also be helpful for first responders in emergency situations and is the start of providing needed relief to the historic and heavily-trafficked Barr Trail.
The Northern Incline Return Trail offers two new return options for hikers, both located in the bottom half of the Incline. The first return is located at railroad tie #395 and the second is at #1300, the Inclines approximate midway point. From the new midway connection at tie #1300, located 500 stairs below the existing cut through to Barr Trail, hikers follow a new 1-mile, naturally-surfaced section to the existing Ute Pass Regional Trail. Once hikers reach Ute Pass, it’s roughly an additional half mile to the base of the Incline. From tie #395, there is 0.15 miles of new trail before connecting with Ute Pass for an additional 0.2-mile hike down to the trailhead.
Directions to the Trailhead: From I-25 in Colorado Springs, take exit #141 (US 24), go west (toward mountains) on US 24 for four miles to Manitou Avenue exit. Go west on Manitou Avenue one and one-half miles to Ruxton Avenue (traffic circle). Turn left and go to the top of Ruxton Avenue, three-quarters of a mile. You will come to the Cog Railway Depot. However, do not park in the Cog Railway parking lot. Go past the Cog parking lot and park at the Barr Trail Lot. There is also free parking at the Hiawatha Gardens building, 10 Old Man’s Trail with a free shuttle service to the Incline. The city of Manitou Springs generously funds this service so please take advantage of it, unless of course, you’d like that extra couple of miles jogging up and back.