Colorado’s Stairway to Heaven

Photo Credit: U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC)

Perhaps one of the most talked about hiking routes in the Centennial State, the Manitou Incline attracts hikers, runners, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the entire country. Essentially a staircase that climbs 2,000 feet in less than a mile, many consider this trek to be a form of punishment. That being said, if you want to take a break from the stair-master, the view of Colorado Springs from the top of this hike is breathtaking.

Manitou Incline - OutThere Colorado

The Manitou Incline connects to the Barr Trail, which eventually hits the Pikes Peak summit after passing through the well-known Barr Camp. The Barr Trail is roughly 13 miles long, of which a small portion is used to descend from the Manitou Incline summit in lieu of dangerously walking down the steep steps.

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Colorado’s Stairway to Heaven

Manitou Incline, Manitou Springs, Colorado.

The Manitou Incline was originally created as a 3-foot wide narrow gauge funicular railway in 1907 as a means of providing access to high altitude water tanks. This railway was washed out in 1990 during a rock slide and the decision to not repair led to the incline becoming what it is today.

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Colorado’s Stairway to Heaven

The Manitou Incline from a distance. Photo Credit: OutThere Colorado Staff

At its steepest, the Manitou Incline hits a grade of 68% or 34°, while it’s average incline is a 45% grade.

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Colorado’s Stairway to Heaven

A steady stream of hikers climb the Incline as the sun rises over Colorado Springs Tuesday morning Aug. 12, 2008. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Inexperienced hikers should avoid the Manitou Incline. It’s harder than it looks. Made up of close to 3,000 steps, recent repairs have made the trip safer though it’s still quite strenuous.

The record for climbs in a year is 1,719 and it was set by Roger Austin. The fastest verified time is 17 minutes and 45 seconds, set by US mountain running team member, Joseph Gray.

A few days before the most recent reopening, we took our drone out to get some aerials. Check it out:

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