Hiking the Manitou Springs Incline

The Manitou Incline boasts some of the best views in Colorado—and you can only reach the summit when you push yourself to hike 2,744 steps at an average 45° grade. Once you reach the top, you’re gifted with sweeping views of Colorado Springs and beyond.


Whether you’re interested in the Manitou Incline for the physical challenge or for the breathtaking views, our Visitor Guide will help you know what to expect.


Looking for other activities to do in Manitou Springs with your family? Check out our blog on the top things to do while in Manitou Springs for other fun ideas.

How Long Is the Manitou Incline?

The trail to the summit is only about 1 mile long…but in this mile, you gain nearly 2000 feet of elevation. When you  hike the 2,744 steps, that’s like climbing the Empire State Building and Washington Monument combined! 

Once you reach the top, the safest route is to hike the Barr Trail. This trail is an additional 4 miles, but it’s safer for yourself and other hikers to use this route. It’s also much easier on your knees.

How Difficult Is the Trail?

It’s not an easy trail. On AllTrails.com, the Incline hike is listed as hard, so it’s best to get in shape before tackling the Incline Trail. The Manitou Incline and Red Rocks are two of the most popular hikes in Colorado for fitness enthusiasts, so you can expect a challenge.

How Long Does It Take to Summit the Manitou Incline?

The amount of time it takes to hike the incline is dependent upon your fitness level and your motivation. It typically takes around 30 minutes to an hour to reach the summit, although fitness buffs may take less time, and those who are simply enjoying themselves will take more time. 

You’ll then have a 4-mile hike back to the base, which takes around 2 hours for most groups. Combined, you want to carve out a few hours for the trip—unless you’re planning to jog it.

What Is the History of the Manitou Springs Incline?

The Manitou Incline was originally a railroad constructed at the end of the 1800s. It was used to build pipelines that carried water down Pikes Peak for Colorado Springs and the surrounding cities. 

Not long after its construction, it became a popular tourist attraction. A rockslide in 1990 decimated the tracks, and today the railroad ties serve as a staircase up to the top.

Is It Free to Hike the Trail?

It’s free to hike the Manitou Trail, but you may have to pay for parking. So long as the free shuttle is running, the best place to park is at the Hiawatha Gardens parking lot. Parking along Ruxton Road and at Barr Trail is limited, and the area gets congested. There are some areas to pay for parking, but they too can get crowded.

Are Dogs Allowed?

No, dogs are not allowed on the trail. It’s simply too hard of a hike for most dogs, and the added traffic would make the 3-foot wide trail overly crowded.

Is the Incline Trail Open During COVID?

Visiting the Manitou Incline during the COVID-19 pandemic takes extra planning, but as of August 2020, it is open to guests. 

You may need to make an online reservation before heading out, and if you park at the free Hiawatha Gardens lot, you’ll want to check to see if the free shuttle is running. Click here to see the current status.

Where to Stay

There are many places to stay when you visit the Pikes Peak region. If you’re looking for a spot that’s romantic and memorable, we’d like to invite you to stay at our luxury glamping tents in Cañon City. We’re just an hour outside of both Colorado Springs and the Manitou incline, and minutes from world-class rafting and the Royal Gorge Bridge. 

We can help you plan a memorable Colorado vacation, whether you’re visiting for the night or spending a week in beautiful Colorado.

Ben Sack

Ben Sack

Ben Sack is the General Manager of Echo Canyon River Expeditions and Royal Gorge Cabins. He's also a raft guide, photographer, and he loves exploring Colorado and beyond with his wife and two boys.

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