Directions to Barr Trail-head at Manitou Springs: Manitou Springs is a tourist town. It is located just west of Colorado Springs. From Interstate 25, take exit 141 and head west on Hwy 24 (W Cimarron St). After about 4 miles, exit onto Manitou Ave. Go west on Manitou Ave toward Manitou Springs. (The tourism is everywhere.) In about 1.5 miles (at a traffic circle), go around and exit onto Ruxton Ave (there should be signs to the Cog Railway). Drive past the Cog Railway Depot and Parking on Ruxton (about .75 miles) and turn right on Hydro Street. Go up the steep paved hill to parking for the Barr Trail. In 2012 the fee for parking was $5 a day. The Barr Camp site keeps hikers updated on the parking.
From the west end of the parking lot start on the Barr Trail. There are a few signs at the trail-head, one a serious warning sign.
A few steps beyond the warning sign is the 13 miles to the summit sign. It is odd that the warning sign says the mileage is 12.6 and the Trail sign is 13. So the moral is, the signs are good for general information, but they may not be accurate.
To help keep hikers from shortcutting, a fence lines the trail as it climbs the exposed slope. Please stay on the trail.
The Manitou Incline was originally built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak- America's Mountain. After the pipelines were finished, it was turned into a tourist attraction. A rock slide damaged a section of track in 1990, so the Manitou Springs Incline was closed down and the rails removed. Some locals started using it for a tough workout. Until February 2013, a portion of it was private property and it was illegal to hike up the ties of the old cable car. It is known as one of, if not the most popular and challenging, hikes in the Colorado Springs area.
In 2014, the Incline was closed for a few short months to undergo extensive repairs to the damaged sections of the trail. Now reopened to the public, the Incline is much safer and remains to be just as challenging, if not more so, for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts alike.
- Length: 1 mile, but climbs 2,000 vertical feet.
- Duration: Under 30 minutes to over an hour or more depending on your fitness level and pace.
- Trail Difficulty: Difficult
- Recommended for: All ages and abilities
- Cost: Free
- Parking: There is a paid parking lot that you can park at. This lot fills up quickly. It is highly recommended to take the free shuttle service during the dates of May 18 - Sept. 24.
- Dogs: No dogs allowed on the Incline
Barr Camp is approximately 6.5 miles from the trail head in Manitou Springs. Elevation gain is 3,800 feet, and the camp elevation is 10,200 feet (3,109 meters). You can expect a 20 degree temperature difference between the bottom of the trail and Barr Camp. Expect changeable weather any time of the year.
Pikes Peak is an additional 6 miles from Barr Camp, and the trail climbs another 3,900 feet to the summit at over 14,000 feet (4,301 meters). Expect another 20 degree change in temperature and extreme weather changes such as high winds, thunderstorms, and snow. Please read the notice to hikers from the city of Colorado Springs.
Barr Camp has no potable water. There is a running stream at the camp where you will be able to filter or treat your water. We recommend you bring your own filter or treatment.
The trail is gradually uphill to a sign that reads, "Barr Camp .5 mile, Summit 6.5, Elevation 9,800 ft" You will gain 400 feet of elevation over the next half mile, so it will seem longer than "two laps around the track"! There are only three switchbacks over the last half mile, and the trail looks relatively flat. However, it is a continual climb all the way to camp. You can smell the garlic bread by now, so keep on hiking! When you see a wooden fence, you are 50 feet away. The camp is on the right of the trail. As you cross the bridge and under the Welcome sign to the deck, pat yourself on the back for the 6.2 mile hike and the 3,800 ft of elevation you have accomplished!
The trail out of Barr Camp is a gradual climb for the next two miles. You will come to the Bottomless Pit trail turn off about 1 mile above Barr Camp. The next switchback is a long one, nearly 2/3 mile. You will find bigger rocks on this section which require more effort to climb. You will leave the aspen trees behind as you ascend. The mile below the timberline/A-frame shelter becomes steeper, and tighter switchbacks will bring you to the a-frame sign.
There is a stream below the trail (to your left as you face the summit) where you can treat water. The A-frame is across this stream and below the trail. Built by the Forest Service in 1964 as an emergency shelter, the A-frame is a good place to return to if bad weather moves in during your hike. Hikers often overnight in the shelter; it is first-come first-serve and well used in the summer. Plan on a tarp or a tent in case you get there and it is full. It sleeps about six people. This is an unmanned shelter.
16 GOLDEN STEPS
The final challenge before the summit is known as the 16 golden stairs. A stair refers to a set of switchbacks. One left hand switchback and one right hand switchback combined make for one "stair". I suggest not trying to keep track as you ascend these. This also represents the most difficult section of the trail. While the trail itself is still fairly easy, it does go through some very steep terrain and can be quite interesting if any part of this section of trail is still holding snow.
Pikes Peak - America's Mountain-- is one of the most visited mountains in the world and a top tourist attraction for the State of Colorado. Annually, more than 600,000 people reach the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway, the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, or, for the more adventurous, the Barr or Crags hiking trails. Pikes Peak is an American icon, and the summit is a National Historic Landmark (NHL) that holds a special place in America's heart.
Pikes Peak can be seen as the manifestation of the American spirit and desire to explore and experience our vast frontier. From the time Zebulon Pike spotted the Peak in 1806, through the late 20th century, development on the Peak has exemplified man’s desire to conquer nature. In many ways this is what makes Pikes Peak such an extraordinary place to visit—almost the only place in the world where all people, young and old, in good health and even those with disabilities can experience the summit of a 14,000 peak.
Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The ultra-prominent 14,115-foot (4,302.31 m) fourteener is located in Pike National Forest, 12.0 miles (19.3 km) west by south (bearing 263°) of downtown Colorado Springs in El Paso County, Colorado, United States. The mountain is named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike who was unable to reach the summit. The summit is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude.
Pikes Peak is one of Colorado's 53 fourteeners, mountains that rise more than 14,000 feet (4,267.2 m) above sea level. The mountain rises 8,000 ft (2,400 m) above downtown Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak is a designated National Historic Landmark.