Gonna Climb a Mountain

Manitou Incline Railway box car, 1908 Photo Special Collections, Pikes Peak Public Library District, Public Domain

About a month ago, I felt the need to climb a mountain
—well, sort of—
2000 feet straight up the side of the base of Pikes Peak.

The Manitou Incline is the remains of a narrow gauge funicular railway built in 1907 to access water tanks a the top of the mountain that were used to provide water pressure to the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. The railroad was later opened up to tourists, remaining in use until 1990 when a rock slide washed out the rail bed.

Today, the Incline’s steep grade (as steep as 68% in places) and 2,000 feet gain (almost one mile) in elevation makes it a popular fitness challenge.

Incline Scar
The Incline scar on the side of the mountain is visible from the edge of Manitou Springs, Colorado.
01 - Parking Lot looking up
Our view from the parking lot. Oy!


The day began cloudy and chilly. Joined by my friend, Diane, and my grandson, Alek, we stood at the bottom of the Incline in the parking lot, seriously considering what we were about to attempt. I was determined to complete the climb, so quitting or changing our minds were not options.

02 - Beginning
Ready or not, here we come!

The old railroad ties start out evenly spaced and pretty much intact, but soon, the years of damage become visible and creates a few spots that force hikers to step more carefully.
ties 1

ties 4

ties 3

ties 7

ties 5


ties 2

ties 6










We met wonderful, encouraging people along the way—a guy in his 60’s who climbs the incline at least once a week; swim teams from Kansas and Washington in town for a meet who were ordered by their coach to do the Incline as part of their high-altitude training; several beautiful dogs; a young lady who was making a second try to reach the top after failing her first attempt; a guy and his toddler daughter who carried her part way in the child carrier backpack and part of the way in his arms (the toddler also enjoyed periods of crawling up some of the safer railroad ties); people speaking all kinds of languages; fit people; and unfit people—all determined to conquer the Incline.

03 - Lots of hikers
I didn’t expect so many people to be hiking the Incline in April.
04 - tree borders
There were many opportunities to stop, step to the side, and take a look back down the trail.

05 - places to rest on the side


06 - whos idea was this
So, whose idea was this, anyway? Oh, yeah. Mine.
07 - views were fabulous
We could see more and more of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs as we climbed.
08 - where cars passed each other
This section is the double tracks where the railroad cars would pass each other.
09 - each stopping point amazing
Simply irresistable!
10 - steeper now
This is where the real cardio begins.
11 - our parking lot down there
Our parking lot is down there where the streak of red is.
12 - work volunteers worked on last year
Volunteers worked last year to shore up some of the the rock slide areas. They will be working on the Incline again this August.
13 - guy with toddler
We so enjoyed watching this guy and his toddler daughter. She was having the best time ever with her Daddy.
14 - best dory voice keep on swimming
In my best Dory voice, “Just keep on swimming!”
15 - fabulous views
Our step-to-the-side stops were becoming more frequent.
16 - dogs
Several dogs were enjoying the trip with their tongues wagging as much as their tails!
17 - sun out and almost to the top
The sun is out and we’re almost to the top!
18 - reached the top
We made it!

Hiking the Incline is grueling, but you forget it all when you reach the top.

And, in case you’re wondering, the recommended descent is via Barr Trail. Much easier!

I think I want to do it again.















12 thoughts on “Gonna Climb a Mountain

  1. Ya know, I absolutely love hiking Colorado’s 14ers, but the incline tends to feel like a daunting task to me. Congratulations for doing it! I keep saying that I will do it someday…someday…lol


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