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Notice: Reservations are required to hike the Manitou Trail, as a precaution to limit the spread of COVID-19. Reservations can be placed on the city's website.
The Manitou Incline is a very unusual rail-trail. Built along a former cable car line, the trail goes straight up the side of a mountain, climbing about 2,000 feet over its one-mile length! It was originally built to carry materials for the construction of a hydroelectric plant and water pipeline, but was later turned into a tourist attraction.
The rail-trail begins in Manitou Springs, a community just west of Colorado Springs, and is comprised of a series of wooden steps—former railroad ties—that rise to an average grade of 40 percent. The trail is an intense workout and not for everyone, but those that make the journey are rewarded with spectacular views. An easier descent can be made by connecting to the Barr Trail, which zig-zags down the slope. Note that the trail is recommended for hikers only and pets are not permitted.
Railroad buffs will want to check out the nearby Pikes Peak Cog Railway that has been chugging visitors up to the summit of famed Pikes Peak since 1891. The peak rises more than 14,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.
Take US 24 through Manitou Springs and follow signs for the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Don’t park at the railway’s depot, but instead continue past and take a right on Hydro Street. There is a trailhead and paid parking lot at the end of the street.
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