The Manitou Incline | Colorado | 01/09/21


The Manitou Incline | Pike National Forest

Manitou Springs, CO | 01/09/21 | 4.46 miles | 2,087′ gain


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After being on our bucket lists for years, Allie and I finally got around to climbing The Manitou Incline (aka The Incline). The Incline is a steep – and I do mean steep – hike that follows an old funicular railroad grade up the side of Pikes Peak. It ascends over 2,000′ in just under a mile on 2,744 steps. While this would normally sound like torture to me, I was super excited to experience such an iconic Colorado hike.

We booked our free reservations and parked at the Iron Springs Chateau ($10). The Incline workers checked that we had our reservations and our parking permit before we could begin. Just 2,744 steps to go!

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My body isn’t built for stairs so I was slow, slow, slow. We took our time, chatting and trying to enjoy ourselves so it didn’t feel like a chore. We certainly weren’t setting any time records (except for maybe the slowest) but we had all day and it just didn’t matter.

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One great thing about doing The Incline in January is that it was nice and cool outside. It can get insanely hot here in the summer and I was glad to avoid that! There was snow on the steps but it wasn’t too slippery, though we did have our microspikes just in case.

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Mule deer along the trail – Photo: Allie
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Looking back down towards Manitou Springs

The visibility wasn’t great. Normally you can see nearly all the way to the top (and the bottom) but we were in a cloud and it was lightly snowing. Maybe it was a good thing we couldn’t see how far we had left to go.

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Photo: Allie

There were markers every hundred or few hundred steps saying how many steps we’d climbed so far. At the beginning, we could easily climb a few hundred steps before needing a break, but towards the top we had to force ourselves to go 100 steps before stopping. Some of the steps were much taller than the others and I struggled on these a bit. My noodly legs didn’t want to cooperate.

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Eventually we hit step #2,700 and we knew we were almost there. In a last burst of energy, we sped up the last steps, taking the 2,744th step together. This is the most steps I have ever (or will likely ever again) climb in a day.

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Allie & I at the top! – Photo: Allie

Under normal conditions (pre-Covid) many would go right back down the steps but this was discouraged so we took the long route down the Barr Trail. (A few people were descending the steps anyways, but most followed the rules.)

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Barr Trail

The Barr Trail makes a slow, switchbacking descent back to the parking lot. It was beautiful but we were so tired that the 3.5 miles felt like it took forever. I spent this time reflecting on accomplishing a bucket list item, and used that excitement to propel myself down the trail.

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I will likely never climb The Incline again, but I’m so glad that I was able to complete it. Bucket list item – check!


Chelsea


25 thoughts on “The Manitou Incline | Colorado | 01/09/21

    1. It’s very different! A lot of people (from all over, not just CO) see it and want to do it just because it’s a challenge and so different from other hikes. I think there’s also a draw to be able to say you climbed 2700 stairs in a day πŸ˜‰

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  1. Like you, I do not like steps up a hillside. Those rarely fit my stride and just feel awkward. I much prefer an incline; but even here such a steep incline would not be pleasant for me to do. Congratulations on your success at making this arduous hike.

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  2. Good for you, Chelsea. I know people who climb the Incline daily, or even multiple times daily. Crazy, isn’t it? I used to hike it regularly, but haven’t done so for years. Really should try to get back in shape and get up there again! πŸ™‚

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  3. How fun to do it in winter. I did it two or three summers ago. My husband was hiking Cheyenne mountain and I did the incline. Well I don’t do a lot of hiking I do run a lot so it was pretty easy for me.

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