The Incline, Manitou Springs, Colorado

The Incline hits you hard, and it hits you fast. I lived in Colorado Springs for a couple years, in between deployments, and no matter how acclimatized I got, it hit me hard. Every time. So now, whenever I’m back in town, of course I can’t wait to hit it up. Locals, military-types, and Olympic athletes training just up the road in Colorado Springs are there in droves to share the experience.

This time, the guys I used to work with were back from Iraq, so I was really lucky to join in their fun. It’s part of my Ascent training, and we’re lucky that a bunch of these guys want to show up for that, too. So it’s part of their Ascent training, too.  As is always the case, everyone was competitive. And yet, nobody wins in the end but the mountain.

Inviting someone who’s never done the Incline before to do it with you is worthwhile. There’s a false summit (shown above, from its top), and by that point you’re more than ready for the whole thing to be over. If you don’t know it’s coming, it’ll crush your soul. Which, of course, is sort of fun to see when it’s not your own. Especially since whomever invited you the first time enjoyed watching yours crushed, so it’s kind of fair, right?

The obligatory shot with Java. From the actual summit.

There are two options to get back down. Straight down the same Incline, which is very steep and probably dangerous. Especially in the winter, when there’s ice all over the old railroad tracks.  Or, the Barr Trail, which is full of switchbacks and the preferred technique in my book. It also happens to be the best trail to ascend Pikes Peak, the most famous of Colorado’s 14,000 foot mountains.

Every time I finish the Incline, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. And that I should eat. A lot. So breakfast afterwards is a must, and best when shared with old friends after a ride in the back of their pick-up.


  1. foster says:

    glad to see the great state of oregon getting some facetime. Im in CO for the next week and a half until the challenge starts and I may just give this a whirl.


  2. john mg says:

    Thanks for the reminder. It’s great for training and much closer than a lot of the 14ers.

  3. Glenn says:

    I live here in The Springs and this IS one of my favorite places to work out. I can’t wait until it opens back up in November!

  4. Josh Baker says:

    I was stationed there at Ft. Carson aka Camp Cartoon (in comperison to Ft. Campbell) and I ran the incline every weekend. I eventually got to the point where I would summit 3 times in a weekend. I now live in Glenwood Springs, Co and I miss the Stairmaster of the Gods so much!!!

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