What an amazing adventure! If you’ve ever been to Colorado Springs or the surrounding area you’ve probably heard of the infamous Incline in Manitou Springs, CO. This almost mile long flight of stairs straight up the side of the mountain has been attracting tourists and locals for years. Known for it’s steep grade (as much as 68% in some sections!) and amazing views, the Incline is quite a feat.
Signs posted at the bottom warn hikers of the intense task they are about to undertake. According to the sign, hiking the Incline is equivalent to climbing up the Eiffel Tower twice, the Washington Monument three times, or the Statue of Liberty SIX times. Was this 2000 ft elevation gain over a grand total of 2,744 steps really something I wanted to do? Yikes!
This iconic ‘trail’ had been on my bucket list since we first arrived to Colorado Springs eighteen months ago. I had been dying to try to find a time in my schedule to finally do it; but it seemed that life always got in the way. Upon expressing my desires about it to my friend Allison, she graciously volunteered to go with me! That evening (before I had the chance to change my mind), I went on the website and booked us a reservation for 3 days later.
That was the easy part. Our reservation was set for Wednesday, September 9th at 8am. The snow was supposed to arrive the day before, so I figured our reservation day would still have cooler temperatures which would be an ideal time to go up the mountainside. Although I didn’t know it at the time, luckily for us, the snow arrived very early Wednesday morning: the day of the big hike.
Allison and I were so nervous and excited and a bit worried about the conditions of the Incline with 6″ of snow on the ground, but we couldn’t back out now. We had convinced each other that we still wanted to attempt the feat, so early Wednesday morning, we drove to Manitou Springs to begin our journey.
We arrived a bit later than punctual to our reservation time after taking the free bus halfway up to the starting point. It added an additional 10-15 minute walk to our final destination at the start of the Incline, but I like to think that it was a good warm up. It gave me a bit more time to mentally prepare for what we were about to do.
The snow on the ground really added to the sheer beauty of the experience. I was constantly in awe of how beautiful and quiet this area was. Coated in white, the staircase almost looked like a stairway to Heaven.
We were ready. The weather was perfect. A bit chilly but absolutely the perfect temperature for getting ready to work up a big sweat. And the views did not disappoint.
Although feeling mildly exhausted within the first 15 minutes, we kept pushing on. Step by step, we were a bit closer to reaching our goal of making it to the top. It didn’t seem too far, right?!
The peace and quiet along the trail was very tranquil. I was shocked how calm and comforted I felt taking in the views while also pushing my body to its maximum fitness level. The tranquility of it all also helped keep me distracted from any fatigue I otherwise might have felt inside my legs. My heart was pounding but my mind was clear and free.
Fifty seven minutes and countless photos later, I finally made it to the top. A wave of accomplishment swept over me and I was beyond ecstatic to have successfully completed the task. Despite the freezing cold (28 degrees to be exact), I actually felt quite happy and proud.
Once at the top, we were above the winter storm cloud, so unfortunately the view wasn’t quite what we were hoping for. Nevertheless, we were quite proud of our accomplishment and immediately began sharing our experience with others who were reaching the summit alongside us. A hobby photographer (thanks Joe for the photo above!), a set of friends visiting from Houston, and a mom who hadn’t been to the top in 6 months were among our new friends.
I may not speak for everyone, but I enjoyed every minute of it. It was so exhilarating to be in the quiet snowy mountains pushing myself to new levels (literally and figuratively) along this iconic trail. I am so grateful for this adventure and applaud all of those who have accomplished it before me. It was a breathtaking experience both physically and visually and one that I hope to repeat again soon. I would love to hear about your first time up the Incline!
September 11, 2020