Hiking the Manitou Incline
The Manitou Incline is located in the town of Manitou Springs, which is about 15 minutes outside of Colorado Springs and about an hour and a half outside of Denver. My now ex-boyfriend and I stayed in Colorado Springs and just took the Short drive over. Even if you are not staying in Colorado Springs I highly recommend making a visit to this adorable small town! Now back to the hike. If you are in for a challenge this is definitely your place! When driving from our Airbnb I saw what looked to be a trail up the mountain, jokingly I turned to my boyfriend and said “hey look that’s where we will be hiking” only it wasn’t a joke, and as we got closer and closer I started to think I may be in over my head. My boyfriend was always in good shape, so I was not worried about him. Me on the other hand… now that is a different story. I like to think of myself as active I work out from time to time and walk or hike almost every day, but I also know my stamina is the worst! And with the thin Colorado air already making it difficult to breathe, I was beginning to panic. Despite the internal freakout, I was having with myself I continued on. Due to COVID-19, the Manitou incline is only accessible with a reservation, so make sure you check before you go! Something else to take into account is parking. There is a free parking lot with a shuttle that will take you over to the incline, that is what we did. Otherwise, there is a parking lot just at the bottom of the incline that you can park in for $10. You can make your reservation at the link below, as well as find information on the parking. https://cityofcoloradosprings.aluvii.com/store/shop/productdetails?id=1&productId=1
Before you begin your mile hike up the incline, as if you are not freaked out enough, there is a sign warning you about what you are in for. Also, telling you when the last injury was. It was very encouraging... not. Despite the warnings, we trekked on. The hike up is brutal, I am not going to lie. I found myself stopping every few steps and constantly being passed by both my boyfriend and people three times my age haha. I guess that just proves anyone can do it! I was okay with my slow pace, it really allowed me to take in the full beauty of where we were. The higher we climbed the more beautiful it got. Although beautiful, I do have to admit, I am deathly afraid of heights and there were a few times where I felt a bit queasy thinking about plummeting backwards down the steps. I didn't let this stop me though, I just kept my eyes on the prize and took that incline one step at a time. Literally.
Unfortunately, we got a late start that morning and were unable to eat before our hike, so we packed our breakfast and decided we would just eat at the top. I wouldn't recommend this, make sure you have at least a little something in your stomach, because running on empty made it much harder. Also, be prepared to have lots of encounters with chipmunks if you have food in your bag. They are very friendly and would love for you to share your food with them. Another essential for this hike is water and lots of it. I am a bit of a fish and drink a ton of water on a day-to-day basis, so when I am hiking I drink even more. Knowing this I packed two 40oz water bottles for this journey up the incline and I was glad I did because I drank both of them. I use this water bottle to drink out of its great because it has a straw. To carry my food and water I purchased this backpack. It is packable, so it's great if you don't have space to pack a giant hiking backpack for your travels. It also holds a lot and is very comfortable on your shoulders. I use it every time I go hiking. Now enough on that, let's get back to the hike.
As you ascend you will see what appears to be the top, this is what they refer to as the false summit. You are not there yet and will be disappointed to know that once you make it to that "top" you still have about another 45 min to an hour of hiking to go, depending on your pace. I had read up on this before we hiked, so I was fully aware and didn't get my hopes up when it looked like we were reaching the top. If you feel like you can't climb up this treacherous hill any longer, there is a turn around somewhere near the false summit where you can begin to make your journey back down. It is not recommended that you hike down the actual incline, it can be damaging to your body due to the steepness. But come on, you made it this far, why would you want to turn around? You got this!
So you did! You finally made it to the top, now what? Sit down enjoy the view, explore a little bit, eat! You have earned it. But watch out for those chipmunks, no seriously, I'm not joking. We saw a girl sitting taking in the views while a chipmunk proceeded to climb up her backpack onto her shoulders. It's safe to say she freaked out a little, who wouldn't? While my boyfriend and I tried to eat the chipmunks began to swarm us and stuck out their hands as if we were going to share our breakfast with them. Sorry little guys, but I was way too hungry for that. After we ate we explored the top. I was surprised to see that many people made it to the top, took a few pictures, and then headed back down without even walking around. There were different views from every side, so you should definitely check it out!
Now it's time to start your long journey back to the bottom. It's a little discouraging seeing how far the parking lot is, also knowing that the hike down is 4 miles compared to the 1 mile up. But at this point you really don't have a choice, you have to get back down, and you just crushed that brutal hike uphill, so you got it! The hike down is just as beautiful as the hike up, there are many different views to take in. So take your time and enjoy every moment of it. Seriously, take your time. I learned the hard way, rushing downhill is never a good idea. I may have face planted and broke open both of my knees as well as ripped my pants. Good thing I packed a first aid kit! I knew it would come in handy at some point with how clumsy I am. I purchased this first aid kit, it's nice and small so you can pack it easily in your backpack. I cleaned myself up and we were back at it. Slowly but surely we made our way down. When you finally make it to the bottom, you will feel amazing. Go have a drink or two, or three haha. Seriously, you deserve it after that. Below I posted a picture of my smartwatch after hiking the incline. It's safe to say I ate whatever I wanted that day, with 0 guilt.