Manitou Incline adds new trails for easier way down

It won’t be any easier to climb the famous Manitou Springs Incline at the foot of Pikes Peak, but at least it’s going to be a little easier to get down now, thanks to some recently completed trail construction.

The famous incline rises nearly 2,100 feet on a series of 2,768 steps constructed from railroad ties. It has long been a popular challenge for hardy hikers and athletes stationed at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

As part of an improvement plan funded by a local nonprofit called Incline Friends, return trails have been constructed this year that descend from two points on the lower half of the Incline. A similar return trail is planned from the top of the Incline in the future, although that one needs environmental impact approval before construction can begin.

RELATED: Manitou Springs reopening Incline, adding free reservation system

“We are very excited to offer these much-anticipated return options for Incliners,” Karen Palus, parks director for the city of Colorado Springs, said in a news release. “Now, users who desire a shorter loop, or may have underestimated the difficulty of hiking the entire Incline, have a way down besides Barr Trail — and much earlier on their journey too. This will also be helpful for first responders in emergency situations, and is the start of providing needed relief to the historic and heavily-trafficked Barr Trail.”

The Barr Trail, a separate path that is more than a century old, leads from Manitou Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak. It can be used to descend from the summit of the Incline and from tie number 1,800.

The Incline is measured by the railroad ties for which it is known. One of the new trails, a mile-long natural surface, starts midway up the trail at tie number 1,300 and descends to connect with the Ute Pass Regional Trail. There’s also a short new trail from the Incline to the Ute Pass trail starting at tie number 395.

“The Incline is a community treasure and an aspirational experience that we are proud to support through improvement projects like the Northern Incline Return Trail,” Bill Beagle, president of the nonprofit called Incline Friends, said in the news release. “The new return trails provide magnificent views, offer a comfortable tread, and, most importantly, help support a safer and more positive experience. 

To hike the Incline, users must make free online reservations. To reserve a spot, visit

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