The Manitou Incline is a path of rail road ties stretching just over a mile straight up the mountain at the base of Pikes Peak in Colorado. It's on the eastern slope of the mountain leaving it wide open to direct sun exposure from beginning with the sunrise and lasting into the afternoon. So, if you love that direct sun exposure and thrive on warm summer hikes, it's a great way to get your fill! There is not a lot of shade on the Incline. Just so you know.
If you don't live close by summer parking is challenging. It's a major tourist area and if you want to park close by, Ruxton Ave is probably your best bet. It's the main street that leads directly to the Incline. But you'll need to get there early. When I drive I get there no later than 6:00 am. during the summer on a weekend. The later you arrive, the farther away you park. Good warm up and cool down time. . .
Credit: Charys Photography
The Incline starts at a 6574 elevation and tops off at a mere 8585. With an average grade of 41% and the steepest at 68% it's a nice little workout with great scenery! Our military and olympic athletes use it to break up their training regimine...or just because.
By the way. . . did you notice that blue sky? That is UNedited! I would go for that alone!
There is no way to get lost since it's a direct, straight-up path, but you do want to watch your step. Between the loose gravel and steep grade it helps to lean forward during the ascent and step on the ties. I've seen more than one solid-looking guy on 'all fours' climbing their way up through some very discombobulated ties that you see in the image above.
Be warned that there is a false summit beyond the half way point. The image above shows it. I haven't been able to figure out exactly how far up it is, but for those who don't know to expect it on the first climb. . . well, lets just say the awe-struck reactions are really entertaining. I've really tried not to laugh when I'm next to them in the midst of their discovery. Ok... I usually fail.
You will never be alone on the Incline as people from all over the world climb it. Everyone is friendly and willing to help. People climb it all year, all days of the week and all times of day. I would urge you not to climb it in the afternoon if you want to stay safe from any lightning storms. I personally love starting at about 5:00 a.m. to watch the sunrise!Credit: charys photography fineartamerica
Although many people go up and down the Incline and seem to do just fine, I appreciate the words of someone who knew that, "When you're going up, you can sight see and enjoy it. But if you lose focus on the way down, you're in trouble." I have slipped several times on the way up. The closest I came to falling was when I wasn't leaning forward enough. Fast reflexes help. Since I'm too chicken to head down it, I prefer heading down on Barr Trail. Though it doesn't connect directly to the top of the Incline and there is a bit of 'rabbit trail' to get to it, the rabbit trail is actually my favorite part. Beauty at its peak! You definitely want to have a camera ready!
The fastest ascent hiking time I know of is 15 minutes. The slowest time I know of is about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Here is a good 3 minute time-lapse of the full hike.