Heizer Trail to Barr Trail

RT Length: 15.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 4323’

I get requests for this route quite a bit, and unfortunately, since I did it so early in my hiking days, I didn’t have a GPX file for the route.  So this week, when the weather was extra windy above treeline, I decided to do the route again to get a good GPX file.  Contact me if you’d like a copy.

I arrived at the Heizer Trailhead at 6am.  It’s important to note you cannot park at the trailhead itself, but instead at the southwest corner of Cascade Park, at the corner of Park Street and Anemone Hill Road.

It was dark and icy and I had to put my truck into 4WD to back into a spot.  There’s room for 5 vehicles if everyone parks nicely, and if not, 2 or 3.

I gathered my gear and was on the road at 6:20am.  This is a class 1 trail from the beginning to the end.  To begin, I followed the road a short distance as it curved east and then south to the trailhead.

Here’s a picture of the trailhead

The first mile of this hike is strictly elevation gain.  I gained 1925’ in the first 2.4 miles of this hike, switchbacking up the side of the mountain.

Just before the elevation gain stops for good it dips down a bit

And then climbs to the highpoint

This is an obvious highpoint.  “Cascade Mountain” is to the west, but you’ll need ropes to climb it (no worries, it’s unranked anyway).  I continued on the trail as it now curved southwest, losing 575’ of elevation in just over a mile as it wound down to the creek.

There’s a cool rock formation as you take your first switchback down (it’s on the left)

And then it’s down, down, down, following the drainage

There’s an obvious junction, where you turn left to go to Mt Manitou (I’ll be doing this sometime soon, just because) and right to go to Barr Trail.  I turned right, following trail 703.

I quickly came to another sign.  Here you have to go left to avoid the Manitou Springs Water Shed and reservoir.  They’re very serious about their signage of no trespassing here (something I appreciate).  The sign said it was 2.5 miles from here to Barr Trail.  Someone had scribbled in “4 miles” underneath.  My CalTopo GPX shows it’s 4.4 miles (so obviously, the 2.5 miles is wrong; don’t get your hopes up).

I turned left at the sign, and crossed North Fork French Creek and the trail became Trail 638.

From here the well-traveled trail I’d been hiking on was now snow covered, with only one set of footprints.  These footprints lasted the entire way to Barr Trail, and made it so I didn’t need to put on snowshoes.  Yes, I still postholed at times, and I thought it interesting there were no footprints going in the opposite direction. It hasn’t snowed in a week, so this is proof this trail doesn’t get much use (especially in winter). Here are some pictures from along the trail, as it wound south towards Barr Trail.  Notice how frequently the terrain changes?  The snow levels changed too, depending on how much sun that side of the mountain received.

I crossed South Fork French Creek on a log bridge and followed the trail another 1/3 of a mile to Barr Trail.  This part had some uphill to it, but was still on a class 1 trail, and bonus:  it looked like some snowshoers had been I the area.

I made it to Barr Trail at 10:20am.  It had taken me 4 hours to get from Heizer Trail to Barr Trail in less than ideal conditions (January).  CalTopo says it was 7.75 miles of hiking. It’s obvious when you get to Barr Trail, as you come to a ‘T’ in the trail, and see this metal sign.  Going right will take you to Barr Camp / Pikes Peak, going left will take you to the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail Parking Lot.

I turned around and headed back the way I’d come, following my tracks.  Here are pictures of the trail in reverse.  Next time I do this hike I think I want to do PT 10245 with it (I’ve already summited this point, but from the other side.  It looks easily doable from this trail as well).

Back over North Fork French Creek

And following the creek to the junction, where I turned left and followed Heizer Trail

Here I gained 575’ of elevation as I hiked to the highest point (once again, cool rock formations at the highest point here).  This is also where I started seeing other hikers on the trail.  It looks like most people just hike to Cascade Mountain, but some make it all the way to the junction.  

And then I followed the trail back down to the trailhead, losing 1925’ of elevation as I did so.

Then I followed the road back to my truck.

I made it back to my truck at 1:20pm, making this a 15.2 mile hike with 4323’ of elevation gain in 7 hours. 

Heizer Trail to Barr Trail


UPDATED for 2021

RT Length: 15 miles

Elevation Gain: 4300’

I hiked part of the Heizer trail earlier this year when I was a bit rushed for time, so today I decided to hike it all the way to the Barr Trail.

I parked just outside of Cascade Park (the ONLY place you’re allowed to park to hike this trail).


And began by walking down the street and up the hill to the left. Once at the top of the driveway, the trail starts to the left.


I began at 7am.  The trail conditions varied from completely clear, to covered in snow, to covered in ice.  I never needed microspikes, but they would have come in handy crossing a couple of small streams (I had them but didn’t want to take the time to put them on:  I just looked for a safer route and slipped a lot but never fell).

4 Trail Conditions

The trail had awesome signs indicating which trails were which.  I LOVE these kinds of signs!  There was no ambiguity:  I could have hiked this route without a topo map.


I hiked up the Heizer Trail, over Cascade Mountain (9387’) and down to the Manitou Reservoir and Trail 638.  This is where I lost about 2000’ in elevation (to be gained again on the way back).  There were tons of signs letting me know I was in a watershed area and to hike off trail.  From here I crossed French Creek and saw a rock painted like a fish.  I’m assuming this part of the creek usually has more water…


Shortly after crossing French Creek I came to some amazing views of Pikes Peak!  It’s wonderful how many different views this mountain offers!


The view never gets old!


From here signs indicated it was another 2.5 miles to Barr Trail, but it seemed much, much longer than that.  I got in a lot of good thinking.  After what seemed like forever I was deposited onto the Barr Trail.  Here:


Immediately I thought: NO WAY!!!  This CANNOT be where I’m supposed to end up?  I thought I was supposed to connect close to Barr Camp, and I knew just by looking at where I was it was still miles away!  I decided to hike up Barr Trail to the nearest mile marker sign.  They’re placed every half mile, so the most I’d need to hike to get an accurate accounting of where I was was only half a mile.  I hiked almost half a mile and saw this sign:  MM5!!!


I didn’t really mentally calculate the distance I’d be hiking today, and it wasn’t until I hit this part of the Barr trail it hit me just how long this hike actually was.   Hiking in from Heizer Trail added on 3 miles each way to Barr Camp… that meant this was an 18 mile round trip hike!  Hmmm…  Barr Camp was still almost 2 miles ahead of me.  I looked at the time:  I still had an hour before I had to turn back, so I had plenty of time, but when I looked up and saw those clouds moving in I knew I had to turn back:  those were snow clouds, and forming rapidly.

I sighed inwardly:  Oh well, I’ve been to Barr Camp over a dozen times.  My main goal today was to find out where the Heizer trail connected with the Barr Trail, and I figured it out:  at about MM4.5  I still had a minimum of 3 hours of hiking ahead of me, and needed to get a move on to stay ahead of that snow.

The hike back seemed shorter than the hike in, but it still went on forever, through the woods and over several mountains.  Here’s a view of Pikes Peak on the way back:


The 2000’ in elevation gain on the way back didn’t hurt as much as I’d anticipated, and when I got to Cascade Mountain I saw something I hadn’t on the way in: A small piece of paper under a rock on a boulder.  It was a Chinese Drawing.  I left it there for whomever it was intended and began my hike down the Heizer Trail.  That part of the hike seriously took forever!  Those switchbacks never end!


About halfway down the mountain I saw a couple with a dog, headed to Hurricane Canyon.  I’ll probably head there next, as it looks interesting!  They were the only people I saw all day (besides a runner along the Barr Trail heading to Barr Camp).

I made it back to my truck at 1pm, just as the first snowflakes were beginning to fall.  I’d made the right choice to turn back when I did!  Soon it was a whiteout, but I was in my truck, so all was well.

So today I hiked 15 miles in 6 hours with 4300+ feet of elevation gain.  Here’s a map of my route: