Hiking the Manitou Incline

Want to climb into the clouds? The Manitou Incline is a steep trail up a mountain in Manitou Springs, CO near Colorado Springs. It gains over 2,000 feet in elevation in a 0.88 mile hike. The trail steps are railway ties. While the sign at the bottom of the incline says there are 2,444 steps, the top step shows 2,768. Here are a few tips to help you accomplish this challenge.

manitou incline
Here we go! Straight up to the very top!

Take lots of water! This is probably the most important tip. I prefer to take our Camelbaks filled with water so I can sip while climbing. We take extra bottles of water in the bag too. Too much is better than not enough. I speak from experience as we ran out on a hot day and it was not a good trip down the Barr Trail (the 4.2 mile trail back down).

Wear good shoes! There is a lot loose gravel both up and down the trail. Good shoes are essential.

Take friends, family or music for motivation. One of my favorite things about climbing the Manitou Incline are the nice people on the trail. Its motivating to give each other a little encouragement. A little “Keep up the good work” goes a long way. We have seen all sorts of groups – friends, family, and co-workers. My sons are my biggest motivation to keep moving up those steps!

Tips for Visiting Manitou Incline

Go early – especially on hot days. We like to hit the trail by 6 or 7 am. The sun will be beating on your back on the way up and it gets hot quickly. And speaking of the sun, take sunscreen. Don’t burn those shoulders. Our Colorado Travels always include sunscreen..

Pace yourself and take slow, deep breaths. Don’t take it too fast at the bottom and run out of steam. There are step markers every 100 steps. We set goals along the way to make it to a specific step number and then reward ourselves with a short break. With the change in elevation, deep breaths help us make sure we are getting plenty of oxygen.

Parking is challenging especially on popular days for hiking. There is a parking lot right at the bottom of the Manitou incline for $10 (if there is availability which we have never had that luck). There is also street parking if you want to start your hike with a hike to the incline (we’ve done it but its uphill to even get to the incline). We prefer the free shuttle.

Be aware that the Barr Trail (the trail from the top of the incline back to the parking areas) is over 4 miles. Make sure you allow enough time in your schedule to get back down the Barr Trail. I was surprised how long it took us to get back to the bottom with all the zigging and zagging.

best food for hiking manitou incline

I do take a few snacks for the boys such as a granola bar or an apple. While I don’t typically need one, growing boys need a little motivation and energy source.

Last tip… There are no restrooms along the way. You are drinking lots of water but the only restroom is at the bottom of the trail. Just something to keep in mind…. 🙂

Drop us a comment if you have any other tips or tricks for conquering this hike! We will happily take advice to make our next trip easier or more enjoyable.

This is the most difficult hike I have ever conquered. Its hard. Then you get to the top and its a euphoric feeling. Its worth the work for the view alone! Not to mention how great it feels!

Happy Hiking!!

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