The Incline

Trailhead / Access

Access to the Incline is the biggest problem with enjoying the trail. The start of the incline is in the area of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway station and thus is subject to a lot of traffic from that source. It is also the trailhead for Barr Trail for those climbing the Peak. Parking is at a premium and especially on weekends, you might have to park a mile away.

To get to the Incline, take US24 west from I25 and exit in Manitou. Proceed west on Manitou Ave through town to Ruxton Ave where the newly installed roundabout will be found. Take Ruxton Southwest to the Cog Railway station. Just past the station, there is a very narrow roadway that climbs steeply to a parking lot. This is the Barr Trail trailhead. The lot is small so chances are there will not be parking available. Do not try to park in the Cog RR lots as this is for the customers of the COG only and you will be towed. There is some limited parking along Ruxton, that can sometimes be found. It is surprising that many of these spaces are taken by people using the COG but to hear it told, it is the hikers that are taking all the local spaces, I know because I observed while waiting for someone.

If all else fails, you can park down in Manitou and hike up Ruxton which would be a good warmup before taking on the Incline.

Trail Summary

The Incline course is simple. A staight shot of .8 miles climbing 2000 feet. The surface is gravel with railroad ties at regular intervals. This used to be a railway bed. The rails were removed but the ties left in place. There has been some shoring up and rearranging of the ties to combat erosion over the years since the railway was removed. The ties have help prevent any major erosion.

Course Description

From the parking lot, there is a small trail at the northwest corner that will take you to the actual incline trail. If you are coming up Ruxton, you can pick up the start behind the service shed to your right as you approach the COG station. Walk up the concrete ramp and look for the railroad ties. The Ute trail that goes up towards Waldo Canyon also takes off from this area.

Once on the railroad bed, the trail is hard to lose. It proceeds up Mt Manitou on a staight line to the top. The first 1/3 of the trail starts with a gradual grade but gets steeper as you proceed. I like to establish my rhythm at this point then try to maintain the exertion level as the trail gets steeper.

The middle third of the course is the steepest. Here there are many steps that are quite high. For those of us that are vertically challenged, it sometimes requires using the knee first to get up. There are several places where there is steel drain pipe that crosses the trail. This can be very slippery so use caution crossing these pipes. Partway into this 2nd third of the trail, Barr Trail comes within 50 ft or so of the Incline. Those who wish to head back down at this point can cut over to Barr Trail and then head back down to the parking lot. Also, if you are looking up, it will appear that the trail is shorter that it really is. This is what is refered to at the false summit. Don't get your hopes up quite yet, there is still more to do.

After reaching the false summit, the trail moderates a bit. It is still steep but not like you have just been through. Here you should be able to get back into a good rhythm for the final assault on the summit.

At the top, you have a decision to make. Return by going back down the incline or hike over to Barr Trail and follow that down. My personal opinion is that going back down the Incline is more dangerous than coming up so I opt for Barr Trail. To the south of the summit, there is a short steep trail that will take you to Barr Trail where it will be about 2 miles to the parking lot. Take the left when the trail deadends into Barr Trail. If you want to go up to Barr Camp, turn right and it will about about 4.5 miles to the camp.

There is also a trail that goes west from the summit that will take you to Barr trail in the area of "Noname Creek". This is good if you want to go to Barr Camp or if you want to add more distance to your workout. I show this alternative in the graphs along with the standard route.