(See my short “dissertation” on the state and legality of the Incline in the Overview section.) From the Barr Trail parking lot look for a small trail to the right side as you enter the lot. (The Barr Trail is to the left.) Take this short switch-backing trail until you reach the bottom portion of the Incline. Take a good look up at it’s 40-68% grade and contemplate your immediate future. This is not a climb for the weak at heart. It is made for those who are keen on suffering. It is 0.9 miles long with a 1900 ft. elevation gain!
By now if you have not turned around and headed for the longer, but much more gentle Barr Trail, start climbing! Be sure to take a picture of the ironic “No Trespassing” sign with countless trespassers working there way up or down. Along the way you will see fellow sufferers in various states of pain or endorphin overload. Some will fly past you in jogging shorts, while you pass others making the mistake of climbing in jeans and a sweatshirt. Inevitably, you will see many dogs, most of which are black Labs, panting there way up and down and loving every minute of it. Take your time and watch your step. Upon reaching the top, look back at what you just accomplished and take in the views. After picking your lungs up off the ground look for a wide trail straight ahead and heading west. Less than a half mile later you will merge with the Barr Trail. (From here I will repeat the route for the “Barr Trail/Rocky Mountain Bushwack.” Copy and Paste is a wonderful thing!) Continue on the Barr Trail. Not even a ¼ mile later there will be a trail junction with a large yellow sign. From behind you and to the right another trail from the top of the Incline merges with the Barr Trail. The Old Piedmont Trail continues straight ahead, while the Barr Trail goes to the left. Immediately to your right after coming to this intersection is faint trail that goes up a steep, but short scree slope. This is a key to the route. About 50 feet beyond is another faint trail on the right. Do not take this trail as it leads to excessive bushwhacking and damage to the environment. Trust me, I know. Take the first and much steeper trail on the right. The summit is under a ¼ mile from this point. Once you ascend the initial ~ 200 ft. the trail becomes much less steep. From here the fun starts as it is all route finding. I found that the key was to bear slightly to the right (north/northeast) and keep taking the path of least resistance as you gain altitude. If you find yourself doing considerable bushwhacking through low scrub brush you have probably gone too far to the west. There appears to be a faint trail in areas that comes and goes. If you see it and it goes up, take it. The summit has 3 highpoints. The true summit is the highpoint farthest to the left (northwest), but is covered in trees and does not provide good viewpoints. There are two other rock outcroppings that are much better. Both require what I would consider Class 4 climbing to find your way to the top. In fact, the only way to get to the top of the middle highpoint is to jimmy yourself through a crack in the rocks and scale the opposite side. Trust me, this was fun. The highpoint farthest to the southeast aspect of the summit ridge provides the best views. There are old wooden ruins and iron rods sticking out of the highest rock. I assume that these were part of the Incline railroad that took people to the top of Rocky Mountain, but was shut down in 1990, or part of the hydroelectric plant that was on the moutain. This is a great summit. Enjoy it! On your decent you have the choice of taking the Incline back down or the longer, but kinder, Barr Trail, which will add ~ 2 miles to your return.
Comfortable hiking and seasonably appropriate gear. Do not over-dress for the Incline. You will sweat big-time. I like to be a little cold than hot. Do not underestimate the Incline. If 10-20 minutes on a Stairmaster tuckers you out, the Incline will rip your heart and lungs out and laugh at you.
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