RT Length: 11.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 4865’
The weather was absolutely perfect today for a hike, but the avalanche danger was high above treeline so I decided to play it safe and stay local. I set my alarm for 3am, decided when it went off that was way too early considering I didn’t need to drive far, and set it again for 4:20am. The cats woke me up around 6am, wondering why I was still asleep. I jumped out of bed, silently cursed my alarm for not going off a second time, realized it was user error on my part, and decided to head out hiking anyway as the sun wasn’t yet up.
There was a man attending the incline parking lot when I got there. He informed me today was the last day they were allowing parking at this lot, as they were going to use the lot as a storage area for equipment needed to fix the cog railway. This was interesting information, and means I’ll have to either park at the shuttle lot (gasp!) or find other parking downtown if I want to hike the incline for the next two years. I made it to the trailhead at 6:40am and was on the trail by 6:50am.
I usually hike for time when I hike the incline, but today I’d planned on just taking it slow and steady as I planned to hike it more than once. The steps were either completely dry or completely covered in snow/ice. I was glad I’d brought my microspikes.
Just before 7am the sun started to rise. There were clouds in the sky so I never got a true view of the sunrise, but it was still beautiful
There weren’t many people on the trail this early in the morning (there’d only been one other vehicle in the lot) so the trail was nice and quiet. I only saw about 5 or 6 people on my way up. I summited the incline around 7:30am.
The 2.5 miles down the Barr trail was icy most of the way to the parking lot. Once again I was glad I’d brought microspikes.
OK, time to start this again. Once again I continued up the stairs, slow and steady. It was warmer now but microspikes were still needed. There were also many more people on the trail. I felt overloaded in my knit hat, snow jacket, and with my pack full of gear while everyone else was in shorts and only carrying a water bottle, but I didn’t intend to stop at the top this time. I summited the second time at 9:30am
I’d had enough of people (there were dozens on the trail now) and decided to try to find the summit of Mt Manitou. I had a trail map that gave me the general direction of where the mountain was, but knew there wasn’t an established trail so I’d have to get creative to find the summit. I also couldn’t find any trip reports online, so I didn’t have more than my topo map to go by. I headed up the dirt road behind the incline towards the Barr Trail. Here I found a trail that paralleled the 4WD road and decided to take it instead
It led me to a cave
And then brought me back to the Barr Trail where it intersects with the experimental forest.
I’ve hiked in this general area dozens of times and I’ve seen the sign for the experimental forest every time, yet I’ve never taken that route. Today was my day! I knew this trail would get me close to Mt Manitou, so I followed it and quickly came to the old experimental forest area.
I continued to follow the dirt road covered in snow up and around past the experimental forest. When I was sure I was close I got out my phone and pulled up my Peakbagger app. It showed Mt Manitou as being NWN from where I was, so I aimed my compass in that direction and started hiking off trail. This is where I really could have used snowshoes.
I was sinking up to my shins in show but the good news was there wasn’t any wind so it would be easy to find my way back just following my tracks. I could tell I was getting close to the summit when the snow lessened.
Still no trail, I kept hiking upwards, and soon I was at the ‘summit’. This was a treed summit with a lot of rocks. One of them held a cairn and that was my only indication of a summit (that and it was the highest point around)
I climbed up on the rock both to make sure I was on the highest point
And to get a picture
And a video:
Mt Manitou Summit:
From the summit I could also see Cameron’s Cone, Almagre, and Pikes Peak
Ok, time to head back down. This was super easy as I just followed my earlier tracks back to the 4WD road and the 3.5 miles back down to the parking lot. This time the Barr trail was slushy and I was kicking up rooster tails of dirt onto the back of my pants. I made it back to my truck at 12pm, making this a solid 4865’ of elevation gain 11.5 mile hike in under 6 hours.
The relive on this one is kind of fun