Mastering the Manitou Incline

It was about nine months after moving to Colorado when my husband and I made the trip down to Colorado Springs with one goal in mind: master the Manitou Incline. Or at least make it up with our dignity intact.

We'd heard of the infamous stair stepping climb that was once a railroad made to deliver materials for the pipelines on Pike's Peak when visiting a couple years prior, and it had been on our bucket list ever since.

Manitou Incline Colorado Springs Photo by Samat K Jain


Even though it's only one mile long, the Manitou Incline climbs 2,000 feet in those 5,280 feet of distance. That's a lot of stairs — around 2,000 to be more specific!

We'd had a spring and summer of practice hiking up mountains like the flat irons and Mount Sanitas in Boulder, and we even bagged our first 14-er, Quandary Peak. Plus, the Manitou Incline is a fairly popular feat, so we were confident in our abilities as we made the drive down to make our way up.

The Manitou Incline is a pretty crowded hike on the weekend, but luckily it wasn't packed on the day we went. We parked, walked to the base of the stair case, and looked up... and up... and up. And then we started climbing.

I'll be the first to say that I think steps on trails are a lot more difficult cardiovascular-wise than the same incline without steps. Taking stairs — and some of them are quite large — engages the gluteus maximus (our booties), which is one of the biggest muscles in the body! This means it takes quite a bit of energy to move up the stairs, which in turns increases the heart rate and breathing rate.

Taking breaks in the shade every so often, we made it to the top in a little under an hour. The views along the way — and at the top — make it all incredibly worth it.

Although the Manitou Incline trail in Colorado Springs is a popular tourist destination, it is considered an extreme trail with a difficulty level of, well, difficult. It also has very limited shade, so even though we hiked it in late September, we were wishing we had packed on more sunscreen! (Tip: bring and wear sunscreen.)

Thinking about mastering the Manitou Incline? Here are a few tips that might come in handy for your ascent:

Come Early


On the weekends it gets crowded and the parking lot fills up. It's also a $5 fee for parking, so bring cash.

Pace Yourself


Take it slow and steady, especially if you're from a state with lower elevation. Take breaks when you need them to get your heart rate down before continuing up.

Wear a Hat


Again, shade is limited. And the sun can be harsh!

Bring Water


And then bring some extra water. My husband and I were both wearing packs with bladders filled with a water/carbohydrate/electrolyte solution, so we were good to go here!

DON'T Bring Your Dog


Although we didn't see the sign until we got back down, dogs are not allowed on this trail.

Dress for a Workout


Wear comfortable shoes and lightweight clothing. You'll be stepping up a lot of stairs, and it can get warm. You might also want to bring a small towel to wipe away sweat

Be Positive


Don't start the incline without a positive mindset. It's the only way you'll make it up!

If you're an avid hiker and enjoy a challenge, I'd definitely add the Manitou Incline to your bucket list for the next time you're in the Colorado Springs area. I'm looking forward to giving it a round three in the near future.
Paige Kumpf
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Paige Kumpf
Blogger at Your Trainer Paige
As a member of #TeamSierra, Paige Kumpf receives promotional consideration from Sierra Trading Post. Paige is a personal trainer, fitness expert, and fitness instructor in the wonderful state of Colorado. Her passion in life is to empower women to find joy and fulfillment through living a healthier, happier life. Learn more on her blog, Your Trainer Paige or on Twitter. Team Sierra bloggers receive promotional consideration from Sierra Trading Post.
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