One could easily call Mount Manitou the "ugly redheaded stepchild" of Manitou Springs, Colorado. Because of its proximity to its shorter neighbor to the south, Rocky Mountain, and the popularity of the Barr Trail (which leads to For example, Barr Camp
and the summit of Pikes Peak) , Mount Manitou gets virtually no visitors and even less press. Heck, what is Manitou Springs most famous landmark, called "The Incline," which rises over 2000 ft in less than a mile, formerly housed the "Mount Manitou Incline Railway," and it isn't even ON Mount Manitou! It's on Rocky Mountain! Many incorrect references to the Incline talk about "climbing Mount Manitou." Alas, Mount Manitou is a great little climb for someone not wanting to tread on a local trail overrun by mountain bikes and joggers.
Take Rt 24 from Colorado Springs and take the first exit in Manitou Springs. Take a right off the exit into the tourist-like town. After a mile or so, hunt for the COG RAILWAY
sign pointing to your left down Ruxton Ave. Go past the Cog Railway depot and parking lot until you see a "Dead End" sign and little sign pointing to the right to the "Barr Trail." This is Hydro St (here's map
). Drive up to the top of the hill and look for a parking space. If it's after 5:30AM in the summertime, don't even bother, and drive back down to Ruxton Ave to look for a parking spot.
The only "red tape" is the parking. The parking lot at the Barr Trail trailhead is always full after 5:30AM in the summer, and you'll have to park down the hill on Ruxton Ave. Don't even THINK of parking in the Cog Railway parking lot, or you'll be towed. Just find an open space somewhere on Ruxton Ave and make your way to the trailhead.
When To Climb
Because of the drier Colorado Springs weather, Mt Manitou can be climbed all year round. Just be careful of the final scramble if you're climbing in the winter.
The closest camping area is at Barr Camp
about 3-1/2 miles up Barr Trail.
Click for local Manitou Springs weather
. Just be aware at conditions 2800 ft above the city at the top of the mountain can be different, and not necessarily for the better.