I've lived in Colorado for 4-1/2 years. Until recently, I had yet to hike the Manitou Incline. I had heard stories about how intense it is and noticed how those who had completed it wore it like a badge of honor. Climbing 2,000 feet in elevation, I had been warned that, somewhere along the less than one mile path, I would curse my decision to take it on.
Last weekend, as I finally got around to making my way up the incline, it didn't surprise me that there were moments when I thought to myself how ridiculous of an idea this was. I wondered why Colorado had to be the state with residents that pride themselves on being so fit that it brought hundreds of people out to this trail on a Sunday afternoon. But these moments were few and far between.
Instead, I found that those moments were far outnumbered by the ones where it struck me how fortunate I am. I got to get away from the city (but not for too long), feel some muscles I haven't felt in awhile, and breathe in some fresh air in the presence of some good company. The experience was so symbolic of quite a few journeys in my life. I turned around about halfway up and saw how far I'd already come, realizing that I had high and low moments behind me and knowing there would be plenty of both before I got to the top. Just like all of those other journeys, I was reminded that turning around before I reached exactly where I was headed would never be an option for me. The 4-1/2 mile trail winding down to the start offered the chance to take some deep breathes and realize that the outcome was well worth what it took to get there.
Manitou Incline Facts
Distance: 0.88 miles
Location: Manitou Springs, Colorado
Elevation at highest point (peak): 8,590 feet
Elevation at lowest point (base): 6,500 feet
Number of steps on Manitou Incline: 2,744
The Manitou Incline gains 2,000 feet in elevation from start to finish. The average grade for the trail is 45 percent and, in some places, it is as steep as 68 percent.
The Manitou Incline was originally built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak.