“I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.”
Frank Lloyd Wright
As I've gotten older, it's become more important to me to set and achieve goals. One of my goals the past year has been to climb the Manitou Incline. I'm proud to say that yesterday I made it to the top on my first attempt!
What is the Manitou Incline?
The Manitou Incline a hiking trail in Manitou Springs Colorado that famously gains 2,000 feet of elevation in less than a mile! What was once a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak has been used for years (but has only been legal since 2013) by athletes and locals who wanted a challenging exercise.
The base of the trail is already 6,600 feet above sea level in Ruxton Canyon in Manitou Springs. It is right at the base of Pikes Peak and becomes an offshoot of the Barr Trail that summits Pikes Peak (14,114 ft). The trail is categorized as extreme and the rules are clear about that.
The incline is open from dawn to dusk. I went on a Sunday at around 9am with two friends. We parked in a city lot and caught the free shuttle to the incline that runs from May 18-September 24. There have been many complaints and legal action taken as a result of the congested parking and noise at the Incline trail-head itself (parking for Barr Trail and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway is at the base of the incline as well) so the shuttle is a great service.
We started out slowly and decided to stop every 10% completed. We used the Manitou Incline app to track our progress. It told us our time and the percent completed which was really motivational for me. We ended up stopping more than every 10% mostly between 50-80% where the grades can be as high as 68%! The average grade is 41% and the climb is higher than the Empire State Building!
My legs started to hurt about 30% of the way up (and never stopped hurting haha). It's hard to breathe due to the incline itself but also due to the high altitude - bring lots of water! There's a bailout to the Barr Trail at about 2/3 of the way up but otherwise it's not recommended/safe to go back down the incline so you have to commit!
There is a false summit with about 300 steps to go - but thankfully a fellow climber warned us so I wasn't too upset. Everyone on the incline was really friendly and helpful.
We took a lot of pictures during breaks to keep up morale. :)
Once you reach the top there is a flat area to sit and relax before going back down the Barr Trail. Another friendly climber told us that it's easier to trail run down and honestly, after climbing up 2,000 feet, that sounded like the worst suggestion ever. But we tried it and - surprisingly - it was super fun. I think I'm a converted trail runner now.
After the hike we rewarded ourselves with some lunch - there are so many eclectic spots in downtown Manitou Springs.
If you are in the area and in decent shape I'd recommend this hike! We passed athletes, tourists, old, young, families etc.. The feeling of accomplishment is worth the
agony challenges of climbing. Just be careful if you aren't acclimated to the altitude, bring plenty of water, start slow, and don't be afraid to take breaks.
To get to the Manitou Incline: from I-25 in Colorado Springs take exit 141 (US 24) West to Manitou Avenue. Turn right, go three miles to Ruxton Avenue and left 3/4 of a mile. You can park at the Barr Trail trailhead NOT the Pikes Peak Cog Railway lot. Or you can park in town and catch the Incline Shuttle.
So what are you waiting for? Challenge yourself -you'll be glad you did.