So, You Want to Climb the Manitou Incline?

April 27, 2017

6 Steps to Surviving Your First Time Up

The Manitou Incline has been hailed as the holy grail of cardio for locals and athletes, alike.  The once railroad track now consists of approximately 2,744 steps made entirely of railroad ties! Although it’s only one mile in length, the ascension averages a 41% incline (68% at its highest) and a 2,000 foot climb in elevation! Phew! That’s a lot of stairs! That’s even more than the Empire State Building! Needless to say, this hike isn’t for the faint of heart, or heights. The Manitou Incline is considered one of the highest sets of stairs in the world! This trail is rated Extreme. So, if you think you have what it takes to conquer it, here are a few tips to surviving the Manitou Incline.

1. PACE YOURSELF

Trail head of the Manitou Incline

Slow and steady is the name of the game. Start at a pace that feels almost silly, it’s so slow. You’ll see others sprinting ahead of you but don’t be discouraged! Remember the tortoise and the hare? Keeping a slow pace will keep you from burning out too fast.

2. HYDRATE

You’ll be sweating… a lot. It’s important to stay hydrated while on the Manitou Incline. You must have water with you. Pace your drinking and try to make it last the entire hike.

3. BREATHE

You’re ascending a mountain, climbing 2,000 feet in elevation and exerting yourself on an expert level. Monitor your breathing the entire time. Not only will this keep your oxygen intake regulated, it’ll help keep a rhythm and distract you from the fact that your legs could give out at any moment.

4. TAKE A BREAK... OR TWO... OR SIX

View of the Manitou Incline

Don’t be afraid to stop and catch your breath every once in awhile! The majority of climbers stop a couple of times on their way up. When stopping, try not to sit all the way down. Lean if you have to. This way, you can make sure your heart rate doesn’t go back to resting. You want to be able to catch your breath without completely losing your momentum. While you’re resting, don’t forget to turn around and enjoy the view!

5. BEWARE THE FALSE SUMMIT

First time up the Manitou Incline

There will come a point when you near the top… well, what looks like the top. From the bottom of the trail, the highest point you can see is referred to as “the false summit”. Unfortunately, you still have about 300 steps to go after this point. The good news is you’re very very close to the end and once you’ve reached this summit, the most challenging and dangerous stretch is over!

6. TAKE THE BARR TRAIL BACK DOWN

Danger on the Manitou Incline

You’ve finally done it! Take a moment to soak in all the awesomeness that is your grand accomplishment! You just tackled a mountain, after all! Take photos, enjoy the view, even sit for a minute.

Now it’s time to get down. Do NOT go back down the way you came. The path down is peppered with spikes, uneven steps and wobbly and loose blocks. Not only that, but it is much harder on your body, especially your knees, to go down at the angle.

Instead, take the Barr Trail down. This beautiful trail will feel like a piece of cake after what you just accomplished. Plus, after about half an hour down the trail, the downhill slope will be challenging enough on your legs.

Some Bonus Tidbits

  • You can park at Iron Springs Melodrama for just $10.

  • Hours are from dawn to dusk daily
  • Take time to look around and appreciate the beauty of what’s around you! Soak it all in… You’ll be surprised by some of the things you may come across.

  • People are uncommonly kind on the Incline. Everyone who attempts the climb automatically joins an elite group of adventurers heading towards a mutual goal. Don’t be surprised by words of encouragement and don’t be afraid to pay it forward!

  • Now that you’ve survived your first time up the Manitou Incline, reward yourself by taking a more cooled and relaxing trip to the top of Pikes Peak via the Cog Railway!

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