Whether you are looking for a weekend workout or training for a bigger climb, the Manitou Incline is a real butt buster. Ascending over 2,090 feet of elevation in 0.88 miles - even the fittest of climbers will feel the burn on this climb.
The Incline was originally built in 1907 as a cliff railway to access water tanks at the top of the mountain that would provide gravity-fed water pressure to the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. According to Wikipedia, "The 1914 structure remained until replaced by an updated summit house in 1958, which remained until it was dismantled after the Incline's closure. The Incline operated under the Pikes Peak Cog Railway until a rock slide in 1990 washed out the rail bed and the Cog Railway decided to not repair the tracks."
Now the narrow gauge tracks offer adventurers a serious incline work out. Just imagine doing the stair stepper on full incline for an hour straight, but add in the altitude adjustment of 6,500 to 8,590 feet. It's not an easy climb, but it's well worth the effort.
From the base of the incline, the wood tracks decide your stride. Step by step, the trail ascends through light forest in an unrelenting fashion. Join the crowd in its challenges and triumphs, since you will be sweating it out alongside other participants. Support your fellow climbers through this challenge, as you will find that you often are in stride with strangers along the trail given your pace.
You can exit at the Barr trail about two-thirds of the way up, near the false summit. This is also known as the "bailout" or "wimpout" point. For those fully committed or not yet exhausted, continue stair stepping higher to the summit.
Once at the top, hike down via the Barr Trail. This easier path travels 4 miles back down to the base, which offers views of Pikes Peak and the surrounding Colorado Springs plateau below. It’s about a four-hour loop in total, and well worth the incline.