The Manitou Springs Incline

Friday afternoon revealed how hard my heart can actually beat, and how quickly I can make it jump from resting to max. Fun times!

8.13.11 0698.13.11 066

My friend, Martha, grew up in Manitou Springs, CO – in other words, the mountains were her backyard, her running playground (awesome!). When she heard we had an open day on Friday, nothing to do, she immediately suggested “The Incline!”.

What’s this? Incline? Near Pike’s Peak? Tell me more…

Originally this was a cable car that took tourists up the side of Rocky Mountain until it was closed in 1990. Since then the rails have been removed but the wooden ties remained to prevent erosion of the hill creating a steep trail that appears from the bottom as an endless stairway to heaven.

Hiking up is pretty straightforward since the Incline is a perfectly straight line up the hill at an average grade of 40%.

Straightforward? Yup. Easy? So far from it.

I started the day with a 6-mile run; my logic being that this Incline thing could possibly stir up quite a bit of lactic acid. I’d rather tackle my step-back week “Long” run before that happens.


We drove to Manitou, parked & looked around.

The start of the Incline isn’t too far, but also isn’t visible, from the parking lot. Sneaky trick they’ve got going there, you’re not really sure what you’re getting into…


Going up. (Source: Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection)

…until you reach this, and look at what’s ahead of you.

We started climbing; Martha’s description of a “stairmaster effect” was pretty accurate. You just keep climbing up, keep breathing harder and harder, and start sweating within minutes. Then you think, “Holy crap, this is hard.”

Then you turn around (carefully, don’t tumble down), and you see this:

manitou incline looking down

It’s both unnerving and captivating to see what’s below. (Source)

Along the way, we stopped a few times for a breather. Chris has only been in Colorado for two weeks; I’ve got no excuse other than it’s never easy to grab oxygen from the air as you gain hundreds of feet in elevation within minutes.

We reached what’s referred to as the “Bail out point”, and did exactly that! From there, it’s only about 0.4 mi to the top (or so I’ve read), but that stretch is twice as steep as where you start. It’s daunting. It was hot!

Whatever. We saw a trail, and we took it!

8.13.11 070

This trail was perfect for running – a few sharp turns / switch backs, but relatively smooth & not too steep. We jumped around some rocks, rounded the corners with caution, and kept flying down.

It felt amazing. Trail running should be a better friend of mine.

All in all: 6 mile run, 1,000+ ft gain on a railroad-style stair-master, and a trail run to top it all off.

Yup, you were a fun one, Friday!



Filed under Exploring Colorado, new things!, training, weekends

24 responses to “The Manitou Springs Incline

  1. How beautiful! 🙂 My manfriend moved to Colorado Springs a few weeks ago and is always talking about how he wants to try the incline. It kind of freaks me out but I think it would be a great experience!

  2. oh I think I’ve been there! So gorgeous!! Are you tempting us again to move? ugh, i could in a heart beat!

  3. holy incline!! that must have been incredible experience, albeit a wicked haaaahd one (said in my best boston accent!).

  4. Lauren

    Your blog makes me feel lazy…sigh*

    This looks fun and tough! Good job 🙂

  5. Mamacita

    Oh my goodness mamacita had not heard of this trail. Umm that is quite a cardiac workout ~ I am impressed.

    Love, Mamacita

  6. LOVE the Incline! I went to school in C Springs and we used to do it weekly in the summer! Such a great workout 🙂
    I’m thinking about hiking Pikes Peak in the next few weeks and planning on starting it out with the Incline 🙂

  7. The Incline is CRAAAAAAAZY. Holy goodness.

    • Heather C

      STILL can’t believe you made it to the top (forceful friends can be a huge motivator, yes? 😉 ) after your crazy trail run. You have legs of steel!

  8. That is one seeerious stairmaster! Nice work, chica.

  9. Holy crap, those are some serious stairs! Trail running down sounds fun!!

  10. That looks awesomely hard! Glad you made it to mostly the top! 🙂

  11. Nature’s StairMaster! I absolutely love it! Also, I love that you did this, so I don’t have to … switchbacks are bad enough for creating an “are we there yet” aura for a hike; seeing the top looming above you at all times might be even worse!

  12. Martha

    I’m so glad you got to tackle this sorry I couldn’t do it with you two!! Next time I’m in and we will stop by Adams Mtn Cafe after for some AMAZING food! XOXO

  13. Pingback: Climbing to a Lost Lake | Dietitian on the Run

  14. That looks amazing, but I’m scared of heights and so I’d probably completely chicken out.

  15. Wow! That view is amazing! and looks like a great workout to enjoy in the [thinning] fresh air!

  16. Go you. The incline is a bitch. What time did you go? I’ve never seen it empty in the summer like that! But then again, locals go at 5 am so you can get up and back down before the hot sun kicks in!!!
    That hike is not joke. High cincos!
    You feel more proud when you’re 5 miles away in the city and you can really see how high that scar goes straight up the mountain!!

    • Heather C

      haha, it IS a b*tch. Not an easy adventure, but worth it fo sure! I didn’t take the two pictures (sources are listed), it was definitely not empty when we were there!

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