The Manitou Incline is located in Manitou Springs, Colorado, outside Colorado Springs. It has approximately 2,744 steps, and gains almost 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one very vertical mile – it averages between a 40% – 68% grade. Beginning elevation is 6,560 feet at the trailhead and the summit is at 8,550 feet. Round trip is just under 4 miles if you take the Barr Trail (which is the hiking trail taken up and down Pikes Peak).
The trail is a former narrow gauge railway constructed in 1907 for the purpose of providing access to water tanks at the top of the mountain that would provide gravity fed water pressure to the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs.
Originally, the railroad was constructed to access the hydroelectric plant and service the water pipes, but shortly after its construction, the railway was opened as a tourist attraction. The Incline’s original summit house was a rudimentary building constructed from left over materials from the Incline’s construction, and burned down in 1914. The summit house was quickly rebuilt into a more elaborate, comfortable, and safer structure, offering shelter from storms and the elements. The 1914 structure remained until replaced by an updated summit house in 1958, which remained until it was dismantled after the Incline’s closure. The Incline operated under the Pikes Peak Cog Railway until a rock slide in 1990 washed out the rail bed and the Cog Railway decided to not repair the tracks.
The Incline is currently closed (August – December 2014) for repairs to the flood-ravaged railroad timbers and retaining walls