Can You Climb the Manitou Incline?

Location: Manitou Springs, Colorado, USA

Altitude : Base - 2012m (6530ft) Summit - 2606m (8550ft) 

Difficulty Level: Moderate - Difficult

Trek Distance: 1.4 KM (0.9 Mile)

Trek Time: 1-1.5 Hour Climb

Manitou incline is one of the toughest short treks I know of. A former narrow funicular railway track is now a favourite place for hikers around Colorado Springs. The highlight of this trail is that the incline gains over 2000 feet of elevation in less than a mile. That is what makes it tedious and exciting at the same time. If you are traveling to Colorado, make sure to fit in this trek in your travel plan. Here is all you need to know about Manitou incline. 


The History


Manitou incline was originally built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on the Pikes Peak mountain. After the necessary construction, it was used to transport tourists to enjoy the spectacular view of Colorado Springs and the eastern plains. 


In 1990, a rock slide caused damages to the track and thus Manitou incline remained closed to visitors. Since the track crossed private property, it was illegal to hike up there. However, that did not stop the locals to choose the trail for some tough workout. On the 1st of February, 2013, it was made legal to hike there. 


The trail today consists of the remains of a former narrow gauge funicular railway track. It is known for its spectacular views and steep grade of around 68% in places. The Manitou incline gains over 2000 feet (610m) of elevation in less than a mile, thus making it a fitness challenge. 

How to Get There?


Take interstate I-25 from Colorado Springs and exit at #141 (US 24). Drive west (toward the mountains) on US 24 for four miles to Manitou Avenue exit. Drive to 7, hydro street in Manitou Springs near 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 for $10


There is also free parking at the Hiawatha Gardens building, 10 Old Man’s Trail (1.5miles from the trail start point) with free shuttle service to the Incline every 10 mins during weekends and every 20mins otherwiseYou can also choose to do some extra hiking up to the trail's start point. 

The Details  


The trail is open from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m only.  The trek itself is free but you will have to make a reservation on the website. For reservation and latest update on the trek check out this website.  

Once registered, users will receive a welcome email with directions for parking, rules and regulations. Hikers must check in at the base of the Incline and will be issued a wristband by an Incline attendant that must be worn when in the property. 


The Trek


As mentioned above, it is a difficult climb. Though the distance covered is just under a mile, the elevation makes this climb tough. Additionally, a few false peaks can discourage an amateur trekker. 


The trek will take anywhere from 30 mins to two hours, depending on your fitness level. 


There are two new Northern incline return trails, in case you underestimated the hike and want to return midway. At the summit, you have an option to return the same way back or take the Barr trail (That leads to Pikes Peak) up to the base. 


Things You Need To Carry


Based on my experience, I can assure you that this is a hike you cannot take lightly. Many amateur climbers give up almost at the beginning of the trek. 


Wear a good pair of hiking shoes. Snow chains for shoes are a must during winter, when the track is covered in snow. Carry enough water, some food, sun screen, sun glasses and a trekking pole if you take the Barr trail back. 

My Experience


I have trekked the Incline three times. I must say, that this is one of the toughest short treks I have ever done. The first time, I took approximately 1 Hour and 30 minutes. The second time, I was slightly better at 1H 15 Mins. And the last time, I did it in around an hour. 


It is one of the most exhilarating workouts. The views from the top are simply amazing. There is a friendly vibe along the way as people cheer and encourage one another. 

The Manitou Incline definitely tests your endurance! But, once you have made it to the top, it becomes an addiction to beat your previous record time. So, if you are in Colorado Springs and if you enjoy hiking, do not miss it!


My Film On Manitou Incline Trek –