Barr Trail is the longest hike for a 14er in Colorado offering over a 12-mile hike to the top of Pikes Peak. This hike is only for trained hikers, not because it is so difficult because it is so long and the quick increase in elevation. However it is a fun hike and there is lots of wilderness to see on the way up.
Quick Overview of The Hike
- Distance: 12 Miles One Way
- Elevation Gain: 7,500ft
- Summit Elevation: 14,115ft
- Difficulty: Pretty Difficult
- Dogs Allowed: Yes
- Mountain Bikes Allowed: No
- Distance: 5-10 hours up
Where the Hike Starts - Barr Trail -Trail Head
The hike starts in Manitou Springs near the Cog Railway, you will be able to park in that area if it is at the Barr Trail Head parking lot or a little lower where people hike the Manitou Incline. However you have to pay for parking for the entire day no matter where you park. It is recommended to get to the parking lot before sunrise to make sure you get a good parking spot.
Let's Start Hiking
This is a very long hike especially if you plan to hike up and down in one day, so get started as soon as possible. It is recommended to set off at sunrise to get the most out of your day. The hike starts off with 3 miles of nothing but switchbacks, that is where most of the elevation is gained. After the first 3 miles, the hike gets easier and only increases gradually. You will be able to see a lot of animals after the switchbacks from birds to smaller animals.
Is a camp that is located 6.5 miles into the Barr Trail hike. you can spend the night or get a meal there. You will also be able to get fresh water and have a picnic to take a break. They offer meals and shelter for people who want to make the hike into a two-day hike, or if the weather changes you will be able hike back down to a shelter.
Barr Camp to A Frame
The next 2-3 miles after Barr Camp you slowly increase in elevation and you start seeing fewer trees and once you hit A Frame, a A shaped building built in 1964 as an emergency shelter for hikers. It is located directly at Timberline so it is a nice place to decide to continue or turn around based on the weather and your fellow hikers. There is a stream of fresh water there as well if you need to cool off a little.
Timberline on Pikes Peak
The next 3 miles to the top of Pikes Peak are the most exhausting not because it is so steep but it is hard to get oxygen into your lungs. You walk 100 yards and you feel like you need to take a 30-second break to get to catch your breath. So it is recommended to take your time at this part of the hike and take as many breaks as you need. There will be switchbacks that will take you the rest of the way to the Summit.
You Made It
Once you make it to the top there is a tourist shop which offers a lot of Colorado food and souvenirs so you can take your time and be able to catch your breath. On the summit, you will be able to see all of Colorado Springs and the other side as well. Seeing for hundreds of miles on a clear day. On the Summit it could be completely different weather than at the bottom, possibly snow in Summer, so prepare accordingly.
Decision to Make
There are three different ways to get down.
- Hike down where you just came from
- Take the Cog Rail Way
- Hitch Hike Down from the people who drove to the top
The first option is the only guaranteed option, the highway might be closed or the Cog Railway might not be running that day so make sure you bring enough supplies to hike down as well.
What to Bring With You
This is a long and exhausting hike so make sure that you bring lots of food and water. The temperature difference can greatly vary at the trail head compared to the Summit, for an example 80 degrees at the trail head and at the summit snow. So make sure you bring warm clothing and always bring a first aid kit and a pocket knife.
Enjoy one of the 14ers that Colorado has to offer.