The Stairway to Heaven
The Manitou Incline
Manitou Springs, Colorado
Constructed in the early 20th century, the Manitou Incline was originally meant for cable cars to haul materials up Pike’s Peak to build pipelines. After some time, the incline’s usage became more of a tourist attraction, and folks were able to go up the mountain in the cable cars. In 1990, a rock slide damaged significant sections of the railway. The rail company decided not to fix the railway and instead dismantled a lot of the rail line. Hikers and fitness enthusiasts began realizing that the remnants of the track actually made for quite the hike, and so they began mounting up the steep vertical pathway. It was actually illegal until 2013 because parts of the incline went through private property. As of February 2013, however, it is now perfectly legal! And it has become quite the challenge for folks looking to get a great workout in.
My brother told me about the Incline. My friends suggested I try it. And I love to hike, so I thought, why not? I was told it was pretty steep and quite the workout, but I wasn’t too phased. I am a bit afraid of heights, so that was my only concern… but that turned out to not be too scary at all. I’m in decent shape… not the best, but definitely not terribly bad. The worst part about going up the Incline was the thin air and lack of oxygen. I’m a Georgia boy from the coast… at sea level. Plenty of oxygen. But I was definitely feeling the effects of the altitude. I just couldn’t get enough oxygen as I was climbing, so I was getting pretty light-headed. Frequent stops were a must for me. While my body doesn’t really ache that much, it was mostly the fact that it was hard to breathe that made it a challenge for me. It took nearly 1.5 hours to hike up this 1-mile trail. And it’s not called the “Incline” for nothing. This baby goes up over 2,000 feet in that 1-mile, with grades at steep as 68%. That’s pretty insane. I’m so glad I tackled this hike. It’s definitely the most vertically challenging hike I’ve ever accomplished.
Other than the amazing views from all aspects of the Incline, you meet friendly people along the way who encourage you and cheer you on. They’re fellow hikers who are trying to accomplish the same task you are, and it’s a great feeling of camaraderie that is exhibited here. It’s wonderful. I got to hear stories and talk to a lot of people both on the way up and on the 4-mile trail back down. Cool stuff.
So anyway, I would definitely recommend the Incline at Manitou Springs for all you avid hikers out there. If you’re not in shape, you may want to think twice. If you think you’re in shape, you might have to reevaluate after you take on this beast!
NOTE: The Manitou Incline is closed for repairs through November 2014, so it will not be open to the public until likely Spring 2015.