The Manitou Incline

On Father’s Day two weeks ago, my kids and I hiked the Manitou Incline.

The Manitou Incline is located in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and has become known as one of the toughest climbs in the United States.  It’s one mile straight up, climbing railroad ties.  It was built in 1907 for the purpose of providing access to water tanks at the top of the mountain that would provide gravity-fed water pressure to the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs.  Originally, the railroad was constructed to access the hydroelectric plant and service the water pipes, but shortly after its construction, the railway was opened as a tourist attraction.

You ascend over 2000 feet and hike 2744 steps to the top.  It affords magnificent views of Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, and Pikes Peak.

We arrive at 8:30 am after driving for 2 1/2 hours.  After parking and hiking up to the start, it’s 8:50 am when we start.  The trail is already busy.  We start slowly and take breaks.  The morning sun affords pockets of shade on the trail, and we take full advantage of those.  Half way up I look over to my kids and ask, “Why did I want to do this again?”
It was tough but not unmanageable.  Sweat is pouring down, but I just concentrate on taking one step at a time.

We reach the summit in just under 1 hour.  We rest, take in the view, then hike down Barr Trail, a 3-mile switchback to the bottom in another hour and a half.

My son, who is 9, was the youngest one on the trail.  However, there were definitely a fair amount of seniors making the trek.

Despite its reputation, the Manitou Incline is a hike for everyone, barring health/medical reasons and a reasonable amount of fitness.  Families, friends, and individuals dotted the trail.  There is no better bonding adventure than a strenuous task accomplished together.  If needed, there is a bail-out point half-way up that merges with the Barr Trail.  I would encourage anyone seeking a challenge, a great outing as a family, a place in the outdoors, and a check mark on the bucket list to give it a go.  You won’t be sorry once you reach the top!