Manitou Incline Open House Tomorrow

January 19th, 2011

Manitou Incline No Trespassing Sign

The long climb to legalizing hiking the Manitou Incline is taking another step tomorrow, January 20. There will be an open house about the draft Manitou Incline management plan from 5 to 7 p.m. at Manitou City Hall, 606 Manitou Ave. Instead of a presentation, there will be stations that cover the various topics of the management plan.

I haven’t found info on what changes they’ve made to the draft Manitou Incline plan since it was presented in October. The 2 most unpopular rules were only allowing hiking from dawn to dusk and no dogs. Also those at the October meeting didn’t feel the plan really had any plan to address the parking issues.

I’ve been told that the main fundraising for money to repair and maintain the Manitou Incline will be done through the Incline Friends group. The Trails and Open Space Coalition is facilitating creating the Incline Friends. It is free to join the group. E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
or call at 719-633-6884.

The friends group needs volunteer help in these areas:

  • Leadership and Coordination
  • Fundraising
  • Partnerships and sponsorships
  • Grantwriting
  • Education/Outreach
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Maintenance and Construction – physical labor on the Incline.

The open house tomorrow isn’t the final meeting. The recommended plan will also be presented at the public meetings of various appointed and elected bodies of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs over the coming two months before it will hopefully be approved by the landowners later this spring. The other planned meetings are:

  • TOPS Working Committee: February 2, 7:30 a.m. Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, 1401 Recreation Way
  • Parks and Recreation Advisory Board: February 10, 7:30 a.m. Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, 1401 Recreation Way
  • Colorado Springs City Council: February 22, 1 p.m. Colorado Springs City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Avenue
  • Manitou Springs Planning Commission: March 9, 7 p.m. Manitou Springs City Hall, 606 Manitou Avenue
  • Manitou Springs City Council – TBA.

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Christmas Spirit in the Outdoors

December 10th, 2010

Christmas Spirit on the Manitou Incline

Last night I hiked up the Manitou Incline. It’s only a mile but climbs 2,000 feet with a steepest grade of 68%.

When I got to the top, I noticed something hanging in one of the small spruce trees. It was dark and I generally hike up without using my headlamp. That way my eyes adjust and I can see more than what’s in my light beam.

When I switched on my headlamp, I saw a tree beautifully decorated with probably 100 ornaments and a star on top. The photo above doesn’t do justice since the only camera I had was my phone. In the background, you can see the city lights 2,000 feet below.

I’ve seen trees decorated for Christmas along trails in the past but they only had a few ornaments on them. Have you seen any good Christmas decorations out in the wild?

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Draft Manitou Incline Plan to be Presented Tomorrow

October 20th, 2010

Manitou Incline

The next public meeting on legalizing hiking the Manitou Incline is tomorrow evening (Thursday, October 21st) at 7 PM at Manitou’s City Hall. The draft Manitou Incline plan will be presented and people will be able to give their feedback. The plan is based on input from the Incline meeting in June plus 3 focused workshops held in July.

The Forest Service had estimated that about 70,000 trips were made up the Incline a year. To get a better count, the task force put an automated counter on the No Trespassing sign. In September it counted 23,562 hikers. I don’t know if it was sophisticated enough to count just those going up or if it also counted people when they came down.

I know the couple times I was on the Incline in September there were probably only about half the hikers that I saw in June and July. The winter months see much lower usage so it’s possible that’s close to the average over the year. That would mean there could be 300,000 or more trips up the Incline a year.

The plan lays out 3 different stages, A, B and C. Stage A proposals are low cost for the most part and ares limited to management requirements for legally opening the Manitou Incline and critical improvements.

Proposed Changes in Stage A

The Incline crosses Colorado Springs Utilities, Pikes Peak Cog Railway and Forest Service land and about the bottom half is within Manitou Springs city limits. In order to simplify management, a single management entity is recommended. Only Colorado Springs and Manitou have expressed interest. The proposal is for Colorado Springs to be the management entity in partnership with Manitou. A special use permit will be needed for Colorado Springs to manage the trail within the National Forest.

Manitou Incline from Pikes Peak Cog Railway Parking LotTo make the Barr Trail parking lot more available to people hiking Barr Trail, the access to the Manitou Incline from the Barr Parking lot will be closed. The official trailhead will be at the true bottom of the Incline in the Pikes Peak Cog Railway parking lot. The Cog will lose 10-15 parking spots but be given designated spots on Ruxton in exchange.

The Barr Trail parking lot will become a paid parking lot. A gate activated by a credit card will collect the fee. The shorter the stay in the parking lot, the more it will cost to encourage it to left for those doing longer hikes on Barr Trail.

Parking is already an issue for those hiking the Incline and the proposed plan will make it even worse. Because residents haven’t been able to park near their houses, 59 parking spaces will be reserved for residents. In the narrowest section of Ruxton where I thought it wasn’t safe to walk up, 8 parking spaces will be removed to make it safer for pedestrians. These changes along with discouraging parking in the Barr Trail parking lot will remove about 100 of the 200 parking spaces that have been available. To offset some of it in the morning, the Cog will make 40 spaces available until 9 AM.

Eroded Steep Part of Manitou InclineFor safety and to reduce environmental degradation, the center part of the Incline will be stabilized and drainage controls put in place. The worst sections will be worked on first. Later phases will address sections that aren’t as eroded.

The social trail that connects the top of the Incline to Barr Trail will be rerouted to reduce erosion since parts of it currently are considerably too steep. They are also proposing a new trail to the north from the summit down to the Ute Indian Trail to reduce the use of Barr Trail. It seems the Forest Service is pushing for the new trail but it seems pretty ambitious for Phase A.

Minimal signage will be placed that will have a map and rules of use. Most of the rules are common sense things like use at your own risk, stay on the trail and carry out your trash. I have issues with 2 of the rules though. They are dawn to dusk use only and no pets.

City Lights from Top of Manitou InclineI think the dawn to dusk rule comes from complaints from residents about car doors slamming too early in the morning. I can understand that since I’m not a morning person. In the summer dawn to dusk may not be too bad but during the winter it would prevent hiking it after work even though it’s not that late. I think they should have a rule against parking in residential areas outside of certain hours but not have designated hours for the Incline. At a minimum they should allow hiking until 9 PM whether or not it’s light.

Manitou Incline in Snow StormDogs on trails seems to really get some people worked up even though in general Colorado is very dog friendly. I always hike the Incline with my dog because he loves it and needs the exercise. In the past I let him run free and the other dogs on the Incline were friendly and I didn’t have any issues. This summer when it became so crowded there were aggressive dogs on leashes that would lunge and snap at my dog when he walked up to them so I ended up keeping him leashed.

I think dogs should be allowed but they could require them to be leashed and prohibit the dangerous 15 foot or longer leashes. Owners should also pick up after their dogs.

For the most part the draft plan is reasonable and balances the needs of the Manitou Incline hikers with those of the residents and the Cog Railway. There are a few things I don’t like and don’t think are needed. I plan to be there to give my input and I suggest you also attend.

You can find the draft plan and other Incline information on Manitou Springs website.

For more information, please contact Aimee Cox at 719-385-6532 or aicox@springsgov.com.

THE INCLINE IS PRIVATE PROPERTY AND POSTED NO TRESPASSING. PUBLIC ACCESS ON THE INCLINE IS NOT ALLOWED. TRESPASSING ON THE INCLINE IS ILLEGAL.

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More Manitou Incline Meetings

July 14th, 2010

Manitou Incline No Trespassing Sign

The first public meeting to come up with a plan for the Manitou Incline was on June 24th. This week there are 3 more meetings. The first was last night and was on parking and traffic. Tonight is a meeting about trails and trailheads. Tomorrow is a meeting on operations and management.

For more info on the June 24th meeting and the time line for coming up with a plan, see the article on ManitouIncline.com.

- UltraRob

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Manitou Incline Public Access Meetings

June 21st, 2010

Manitou Incline No Trespassing Sign

After a few failed attempts at legalizing hiking the Manitou Incline over the years, the process has finally moved farther than it has in the past. Nearly $100,000 is being spent to study how to make the Incline safer, reduce erosion and to deal with traffic and parking issues on Ruxton Avenue. Colorado Springs Utilities is also concerned about the water pipeline that runs along the Manitou Incline.

Manitou InclineHiking the Manitou Incline has continued to grow more popular even though it’s illegal. The U.S. Forest Service has estimated that 70,000 people use the Incline annually.

At a Manitou Springs council meeting that I was at a little over ago, councilman Ed Klingman said making the Incline legal and having a plan would “move it from an unmanaged hassle to a managed hassle.” Spencer Wren, General Manager of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, said the Incline was a huge problem for them. He said they were stopping hikers in their parking lot but they would just go up to the Barr Trail parking lot.

This Thursday evening there will be a meeting to get public input on the Manitou Incline. It will be held at Manitou Springs City Hall, 606 Manitou Avenue, from 7 to 9 PM. Manitou Springs also has a project page with more information and maps of the Manitou Incline.

One of the solutions I’ve heard is to have several places to park with trails connecting to the bottom of the Incline. When I asked Aimee Cox, the project manager about it she said, “We’re still in the information-gathering phase. Connecting trails has been suggested, but again, no recommendations are being made at this point. We’re trying to collect good ideas.”

The following additional public meetings will be hosted in July at Manitou Springs City Hall.

  • July 13th – Traffic and Parking Focus Area Session, 6 – 9 p.m.
  • July 14th – Trails and Trailhead Focus Area Session, 6 – 9 p.m.
  • July 15th – Management and Operations Focus Area Session, 6 – 9 p.m.

The planning process is funded by Great Outdoors Colorado and the Hill Family Foundation. The final plan will be presented to the Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs City Councils in February 2011.

For more information, please contact Aimee Cox at 719-385-6532 or aicox@springsgov.com.

THE INCLINE IS PRIVATE PROPERTY AND POSTED NO TRESPASSING. PUBLIC ACCESS ON THE INCLINE IS NOT ALLOWED. TRESPASSING ON THE INCLINE IS ILLEGAL.

- UltraRob

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Snowy Manitou Incline Photos

March 19th, 2010
Snow on Manitou Incline

Spring is almost here and that means big weather extremes here in Colorado. Yesterday I got a nice lunch time ride in 60 degree weather. This morning the snow is coming down.

Going hiking or cross-country skiing in a snow storm can be beautiful. Just be prepared and know how to navigate. It can be easy to get disoriented even in familiar areas.

Here are some photos from a hike I did on the Manitou Incline about a month ago. If the snow keeps up, it should look about the same in a few hours. It is still trespassing to hike the Manitou Incline and they’re spending $100k to study how to make it safe. As with hiking in any weather, you need to pay attention and be safe.

Snow on Manitou Incline

Snow on Manitou Incline

Snow on Manitou Incline

Snow on Manitou Incline

- UltraRob

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Snowy Night Hike

December 7th, 2008

Snow on Manitou Incline
This week we had a little snow. That didn’t keep me and others from doing a night hike on the Manitou Incline. Once wasn’t enough for Yeti so he did it twice.

Lights of Manitou Springs in the SnowI always find it a bit tough to go out when it’s cold and dark but it doesn’t take long before I’m enjoying it. Fresh snow at night always looks prettier than in the daylight when the light is flat. If it’s still cloudy, the city lights reflect off the clouds and snow.

Icicle on FaceIt was 13 degrees when I started out but I quickly was sweating from the workout. With the cold, I ended up growing some nice icicles. I stayed plenty warm the whole time without putting my shell on.

Since the snow was fresh and not packed, it wasn’t very slippery. I was wearing my hiking boots and ended up not putting my YakTrax on.

Snowy BushI learned one thing about working out hard in the cold and taking photos. Some guys hiking faster than me passed and I tried getting some photos. They ended up all fogged up. I checked the camera lens and it looked clear. I finally figured out the steam from my breathing was hanging in the air. I found I had to hold my breath for a few seconds before taking photos.

Please remember that using UltraRob.com to find your cycling and outdoor gear this holiday season helps those in poverty and disaster areas.

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Frosty Night on the Manitou Incline

November 26th, 2008

Frost Covered Tree on Manitou Incline
An informal group hikes the Manitou Incline each week and then meets at Kinfolks in Manitou for beer. Although I’ve been wanting to go, I hadn’t made it until last week.

Our sunny, warm weather from earlier in the week was gone. It was replaced by cold and fog. It was interesting seeing headlamps in the fog.

Frosty Branches on the Manitou InclineIt didn’t take long until the lights of Manitou disappeared in the fog and were just a glow in the fog. Eventually even the glow disappeared and it was just very dark.

Almost every weather condition has it’s own beauty. Sometimes I don’t notice the beauty because I’m grumbling about the weather. I didn’t have any trouble noticing the beauty of the frost on the branches when the light from my headlamp hit them.

Although I’d been behind nearly everyone and they disappeared into the fog when I stopped to take some photos, Charlie and Josh caught me near the top. The 3 of us then hiked down Barr Trail together.

Frosty HairThe tree branches weren’t the only things frosty. My hair was also covered in frost when I got back to the bottom. The photo is out of focus because I forgot I had put the camera on manual focus.

One of the cool things about heading over to Kinfolks was I met 2 local bloggers for the first time. Yeti blogs at UpaDowna about all things outdoors. He knows his stuff and teaches outdoor survival classes. Brownie does what I think is crazier than ultra cycling. He’s an ultra runner and did both the Hardrock 100 and Leadville 100 run this year.

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Is Manitou Incline Finally Close to Being Legal?

September 3rd, 2008

Manitou Incline

Over the years, there have been several talks about making the Manitou Incline legal. Even though it is illegal, it is the most popular hike in the Pikes Peak region.

In December, the Pikes Peak Cog manager had said there might be news by spring on an agreement to make the Incline legal. The news never came.

According to an article in the Gazette a couple weeks ago, there is now an agreement written between the Cog Railway and city of Colorado Springs. Lawyers are reviewing the document. Colorado Springs would get an easement for a trail along the Incline in return for allowing the Cog to use a small parking lot at the end of Ruxton owned by the city.

Even if Colorado Springs and the Cog sign the agreement, things need to be worked out with Manitou Springs and the Forest Service.

The area around the bottom of the Incline is in Manitou Springs and neighbors haven’t been happy with parking issues from the Incline being so popular. The top part the Incline is on National Forest land. The Forest Service has indicated they would support having it officially open.

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Manitou Incline Busy Season Has Begun

May 2nd, 2008

Manitou Incline

Although several people hike the Manitou Incline on nice days during the winter and even on nasty days there generally are a few people. I hiked it on a cold, cloudy day a little over a month ago and saw 3 people. Once it gets warm, a lot more people start hiking it.

Break Time on the Manitou InclineTwo Sundays ago it was sunny and in the 70’s. I saw hundreds of people. I did it with my 5 year old so we had lots of people passing us. I did it last Sunday afternoon and parked the farthest I’ve had to down Ruxton.

Along with the warm weather, people have been coming to UltraRob.com looking for information on the Manitou Incline. One thing they are looking is for directions to the Manitou Incline. I think because it crosses private property there aren’t many directions to it. The directions I’ve written to the Manitou Incline are a bit vague for that reason but should be plenty to get you there. Hopefully the access issues will be resolved soon.

Steep Section of Manitou InclineAnother question people have is how long it takes to hike to the top. On the Incline Club page, Matt Carpenter’s fastest time is listed as 18:31. That page doesn’t have any new times since 2000 when the No Trespassing sign was put up. According to an article in Sports Illustrated, Mark Fretta has done it in 16:42. I wonder if that’s from the bottom or from where the trail from Barr Trail parking lot meets the Incline. My best time from the bottom is 29:30. Last Sunday I did it in 42:30 but that was from the trail from the parking lot. At that pace it’s about 4 minutes from the bottom. Of course how long it will take you will depend on your fitness level and how hard you want to push yourself. I’ve seen quite a few people the last couple weeks that appeared to be on a pace over an hour. The time back down will depend on whether you go back down the Incline or take Barr Trail down.

Number of Steps on the Manitou InclinePeople also want to know how many steps there are. I’d never thought much about that. 2,000 vertical feet in 1 mile with the steepest grade at 68% tells me all I really need to know. They really aren’t steps but old railroad ties and some of them are missing. But in case you want to know, somebody has written numbers on some of the ties. I’m assuming that they are a count of the number of ties. I’m not sure what was done where ties are missing. 2744 is written on the top tie.

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