Manitou Incline

By Audrey Andrews | September 10th, 2020

Manitou Springs, Colorado

Manitou Incline & Barr Trail Descent:
3.9 miles
1,818 feet elevation gain

The Manitou Incline is a staple of Manitou Springs, just west of Colorado Springs. To enable social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, free reservations are mandatory to adventure up the incline. I did not have trouble reserving my desired time, but popular days such as the weekend do fill up. I’d like to think the limited crowd enhanced my first Manitou Incline experience, as I did not have to fight for space on the narrow path.

The Incline is not for the faint of heart, but also not as daunting as advertised. I’ve completed the Koko Crater Trail numerous times, which is a similar concept to the Incline. The Koko Crater Trail is much sketchier, but I understand the Incline was similar until the stairs were redone.

We parked in a free spot near the center of Manitou Springs and walked about 1.3 miles to the trailhead. There is fee parking closer to the trailhead, but the walk through quaint Manitou was quite fun, especially for first-time Incliners. The check-in process at the trailhead was straightforward and we headed up the stairs about 4 P.M.

The stairs are numbered every hundred steps. I am not sure if this is good or bad, as I was sometimes surprised by my progress and sometimes disappointed I was not ascending faster. Along the way, it rained off and on. Some of the grates covering places for water to run off became quite slippery, but maneuvering around was easy enough. Throughout the steepest section of the Incline, I used my hands to grab the steps in front of me. Of course, some people run up the Incline, so this is all about comfort level.

We traversed the incline in exactly one hour after a relatively relaxed pace up. There is a small peak to hike up behind the Incline for those so inclined. Immediately left of the Incline finish is the path to the Barr trail, which switchbacks south of the Incline back to Manitou Springs. The Incline asks that hikers do not walk down the Incline. The descent offers wonderful views of the surrounding mountains and looks fun to jog down.

A rainbow greeted us for our walk back to our vehicle. We stopped at the Border Burger Bar of Manitou Springs for burgers and a glass of wine. The burgers were creative and our server was wonderful. She asked if we’d just hiked the Incline (I guess it’s that obvious for newbies) and we talked about the area.

The Incline is an afternoon well spent, despite its popularity. If you find yourself in Colorado Springs, do give it a try.

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