Imagine embarking on a challenging and rewarding adventure nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The Manitou Springs Incline is a unique and exciting hike that draws fitness enthusiasts and thrill-seekers from around the globe. In this article, we’ll delve into the Incline’s fascinating history, examine its trail specifications, provide tips for preparing for the climb, and discuss what you can expect during your ascent. Furthermore, we’ll explore the Barr Trail descent and highlight nearby attractions in Manitou Springs.

The History of Manitou Springs Incline

From Funicular Railway to Hiking Destination

In 1907, the Manitou Springs Incline was constructed as a funicular railway for transporting materials needed to build pipelines. Over time, the railway evolved into a tourist attraction, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. However, in 1990, a rockslide damaged the tracks, forcing the railway to close.

Resurgence of the Manitou Springs Incline

Despite its closure and private property status, the Incline continued to attract hikers and fitness buffs seeking a challenging workout. The once off-limits trail was officially reopened to the public in 2013 after undergoing extensive restoration efforts.

Trail Specifications: What to Expect

Trail Length

Stretching approximately 1 mile, the Manitou Springs Incline features over 2,700 steps made from the remnants of the railway ties.

Elevation Gain

With an impressive elevation gain of 2,000 feet, the Incline has an average grade of 45% and steepens up to 68% in certain sections.

Difficulty Level

Due to its steep grade, considerable elevation gain, and high altitude, the Manitou Springs Incline is regarded as an extremely challenging hike. Hikers should be in excellent physical shape and ready for an intense workout.

Preparing for Your Manitou Springs Incline Adventure

Dressing for Success

When tackling the Incline, opt for comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing and durable hiking shoes with excellent traction. Dressing in layers is crucial for adapting to changing temperatures and weather conditions.

Packing Essentials

Make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat to shield yourself from the sun. A small backpack is also helpful for carrying personal belongings.

Physical Preparation

Given the difficulty of the Incline, being physically prepared is essential. Incorporate cardiovascular training and leg-strengthening exercises into your routine to build endurance and strength for the climb.

The Ascent: Conquering the Manitou Springs Incline

Starting Point

The trailhead for the Manitou Springs Incline is conveniently located near the base of Pikes Peak, adjacent to the Cog Railway Station.

The False Summit: Don’t Be Fooled

As you ascend the Incline, you’ll come across a deceptive point called the “false summit.” While it may appear that you’ve reached the top, the true summit lies further ahead. Stay determined, and you’ll eventually conquer the Incline.

The Final Push: Embrace the Challenge

The steepest section of the Incline, boasting an average grade of 68%, lies near the end. This is where your resolve and perseverance will be put to the test. Overcoming this challenging stretch rewards you with spectacular views and a sense of accomplishment.

The Barr Trail Descent: A Scenic Cool Down

After summiting the Manitou Springs Incline, hikers can return to the base via the 3-mile Barr Trail. This gradual and picturesque descent offers a chance to cool down

and appreciate the surrounding forest’s beauty. Be vigilant and follow the signs for the Barr Trail to avoid accidentally straying onto private property.

Exploring Manitou Springs Incline and Nearby Attractions

Manitou Springs: Relax and Unwind

The enchanting town of Manitou Springs, located at the base of the Incline, is an ideal place to relax after your hike. The town boasts a variety of restaurants, shops, and art galleries to explore. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the famous mineral springs that have drawn visitors for over a century.

Pikes Peak: A Majestic View

From the Manitou Springs Incline, you can catch a glimpse of the majestic Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s most renowned 14ers. If you’re seeking another challenge, consider summiting Pikes Peak via the Barr Trail, which starts in Manitou Springs and spans 13 miles to the summit.

Garden of the Gods: Nature’s Masterpiece

Another nearby attraction worth visiting is the Garden of the Gods, a National Natural Landmark featuring awe-inspiring red rock formations. The park offers numerous hiking trails, rock climbing opportunities, and a visitor center with informative exhibits.


The Manitou Springs Incline is an exhilarating and fulfilling hike that attracts fitness enthusiasts and adventure-seekers alike. With its steep incline, significant elevation gain, and stunning views, conquering the Incline is an unforgettable experience. After completing the hike, be sure to explore the nearby attractions in Manitou Springs, Pikes Peak, and the Garden of the Gods.


  1. Is there a fee to hike the Manitou Springs Incline? Yes, there is a small fee to access the Incline. Tickets can be purchased online or at the trailhead.

  2. Where can I park when hiking the Incline? Parking is available at the Hiawatha Gardens parking lot, located a short walk from the trailhead. A free shuttle service runs between the parking lot and the trailhead.

  3. How long does it take to hike the Manitou Springs Incline? The average time to complete the Incline ranges from 1 to 2 hours, depending on your fitness level and the number of breaks you take.

  4. Are dogs allowed on the Manitou Springs Incline? Dogs are not permitted on the Incline due to the trail’s steep and challenging nature.

  5. Is the Manitou Springs Incline open year-round? The Incline is generally open year-round, but it may close temporarily due to inclement weather or maintenance. It’s always a good idea to check the official website for any updates before heading out.