Hiking The Incline At Manitou Springs CO

Hiking The Incline At Manitou Springs CO

Hiking the Incline at Manitou Springs CO is not an easy feat.  Trust me, I speak from experience.  Last week (Friday 8/10/19) I ascended this beast with my son-in-law Jake.  Going into it I knew I had it in the bag.   Just another long flight of stairs in my opinion.  Somewhere between 100 to 150 steps up I was already humbled.  This was not going to be an easy climb nor was it just another flight of stairs!

History Of The Incline:

The Incline was originally built in 1907 as a funicular to access water tanks located at the top of the mountain.  It operated under the name Pikes Peak Cog Railway until a rock slide demolished it in 1990.  Since that time it has steadily grown in popularity as a hiking trail and fitness challenge.

The Facts:

  • The base of The Incline sits at 6600 feet above sea level.    2768 Steps
  • This trail ascends 2011 feet from the base to the summit.
  • An ascent of 0.88 of a mile is required to reach the summit.
  • There are 2768 steps to get to the top.  Some of them are a foot or more higher.
  • The hike to the summit… SUCK!     This is a personal opinion.
  • There is a trail, The Barr Trail you can take down from the top.  It’s approximately 2.79 miles from the summit to the base when taking this trail.
  • A bailout point exists about 2/3 of the way up which leads to The Barr Trail.
  • There is a false summit.  Just when you think you’ve reached the top… you haven’t!

Records Held:

  • Number of ascents in one year – 1719.  Held by Roger Austin. The original record held by local Greg Cummings has been passed back and forth between Austin and Cummings since the latter originally broke the record in 2011.
  • The Incline 500 Club.   There are 12 people who have climbed The Incline 500 times within a 365 day period.
  • The Inclinathon.  This represents 13 trips up and down The Incline in a day.  Multiple people also hold this record but in 2014 Brandon Stapanowich crushed it by completing 22 trips up and down in a 24 hour period.
  • Fastest verifiable time up and down.  Held by US mountain running team member Joseph Gray with a time of 17 minutes and 45 seconds.

Hiking The Incline At Manitou Springs CO:

So how did you stack up to these incredible record holders? 
For starters I’ll just say I won’t be part of The Incline 500 Club anytime soon, AKA never!

Did you come close to beating the speed record to the top?
Absolutely!  It only took me 2 hours and 1 minute.  There may have been some seconds in there too but I didn’t track that closely.  I mean think about, a mere 104 minutes separated me from the record holder.

Did you enjoy the hike?
Not in the least but I’m proud I made it to the top.

Would you do it again?
Yes.  Apparently I’m still suffering from oxygen deprivation to my brain from my hike up The Incline, so yes.

Halfway there.
A view from the halfway point.

What should I do to prepare if I want to hike up The Incline?

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after your ascent and descent.
  • Take it slow.
  • Don’t do it on a hot, sunny day if you can avoid it.
  • Calories, calories, calories.   Expect to burn up to 700 calories or more just going up.
  • Take it seriously.  It’s no joke.

Descending The Manitou Springs Incline:

When we got to the top we took a short break and reveled in our feat.  Jake took a moment to take a picture at the top with Greg Cummings (I was still about 50 stairs from summiting).  We started heading down The Barr Trail to get back to the truck but once we reached the bailout we decided to go down The Incline stairs themselves.  I do recommend avoiding going back down the stairs as they are steep and uneven and people have died going down this way.  No room for error here.

We finally made it to the bottom and walked back to Jakes truck which lacks a side step and this was really noticeable having just traversed The Incline.  Back a the trailer my wife Julia asked me how it was and I responded with the first three words that came to my mind.  “It was TERRIBLE!”   This was made worse when I had to climb the 2 steps into our trailer.

If you’re in good shape I highly recommend this hike if you’re in the area.   If you’re not in good shape then go try something else.  I was truly humbled by this hike and know that I need to make some changes to my lifestyle based on my performance.

Check out our post on The 10 Ways To Avoid Altitude Sickness While Hiking.

We hope to see you on the next hike and until next time, we’ll be seeing you… ON THE ROAD!




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