*****The Manitou Incline is currently closed for safety reasons during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order*****
The crown jewel of outdoor recreation in Manitou Springs and referred to by locals as simply ‘the Incline’, this popular but strenuous hike is not for the faint of heart. It climbs over 2,000 vertical feet in less than a mile and sections as steep as 68% grade. Don’t forget to watch your step; they range in size and height to keep you on–or knock you off–your toes. At the summit, the Incline Trail connects to Barr Trail, which offers a steep but scenic 3-mile path back down to the base. Downhill use of the Incline is strongly discouraged (can you imagine tripping down 2,744 steps?).
The Bailout: A false summit ⅔ of the way to the top is the closest some come to tackling the incline. Here, the Incline Trail meets up with Barr Trail for the first time and offers exhausted hikers a reprieve. If you think you need to bail, we won’t tell anyone. But if you can muster enough energy, you’re almost to the top!
If you are planning to hike the Incline, keep in mind it could take 3-4 hours for first responders to reach you in the event of a medical emergency. There are a number of mountain trails that might better suit casual hikers.
This incredible hike is free to use, but please consider making a donation to Incline Friends to help keep the incline in good condition for years to come.
Parking at the base of the Incline is not free, though the FREE Rt. 33 shuttle runs from downtown Manitou Springs to the base of the trail (and if you work up an appetite it will drop you off downtown to grab drinks or a bite to eat on your way back!).
Need to Know
The Incline is open from 6am-6pm.
The neighbors thank you for not starting earlier.
The FREE shuttle runs every 20 minutes from 6 am to 8 pm daily
Save money by parking for free at 10 Old Man’s Trail and hopping on the free shuttle.
Limited paid parking available at the trailhead near 530 Ruxton Ave
The early bird gets the work and the parking spot. Parking is $10 for the day.
During the summer, your best bet will still be the shuttle from any downtown parking lot, which range from free to $5 for all day.
No pets allowed on the trail.
Your dog definitely did not sign up for this so leave your pets at home. Trust us, Rover will thank you for it. But really, we mean it: no dogs.
Bring plenty of water.
Dehydration and altitude sickness is not fun. If you forgot your water, stop in any number of shops in town to grab a water bottle. We don’t want to rescue you unless it’s a real emergency.
Wear proper footwear.
The nearest ocean is 1000 miles away, so leave your flip-flops at home.
The Incline is physically strenuous.
Think of the Incline like leg day at the gym; if you skip leg day, you might skip this hike. If you decide this hike isn’t for you, there are plenty of other options to get outside.
We’re saying it again just in case: The Incline is physically strenuous.
What goes up must come down, including you. Every week, firefighters have to trudge up the stairs to rescue ill-prepared hikers. If you are unsure of your ability, please give our firefighters a break and start on a friendlier trail.
Downhill use of the Incline is strongly discouraged. Please descend on Barr Trail. Your knees and uphill hikers will thank you.
Be prepared, conditions may vary!
Weather in Colorado is unpredictable and afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer. Colorado ties for 4th place in the number of lightning-related fatalities, so start early and get off the mountain if in doubt. In spring, winter, and fall, check the forecast and be prepared for snow. Even if the steps appear dry, bring hiking spikes to help maintain traction on the shadier downhill portion.
Difficulty level: Extreme (we promise we’re not kidding)
Length: about .9 mile / 1.4 km (plus nearly 3 miles / 4.8 km down Barr Trail)
Elevation Gain: 2,020 ft / 615 m
Base Elevation: 6,530 ft / 2012 m
Summit Elevation: 8,550 ft / 2606 m
Total Stairs: 2,744
Average Grade: 41%
Steepest Grade: 68%
Annual Visitors: An estimated 70,000 annual visitors ranging from 7-70 years old.
Average Time: Seasoned Incliners and Olympic athletes may summit in under 30 minutes, but most hikers complete the Incline in 1 hour or longer.