Barr Trail to Pikes Peak

HARD 258 reviews
#6 of 128 trails in

Barr Trail to Pikes Peak is a 23 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Manitou Springs, Colorado that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
23.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
7568 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

snow

The trail is wide and very accessible from the ascension and descension standpoint. The last mile is the hardest and takes a lot of stamina to conquer the final walk across the boulder field. $20/day parking fee. You can use the ParkMobile app to pay

hiking
3 hours ago

hiking
1 day ago

The hike is challenging, beautiful, and will push most hikers. The summit moment is a bit compromised when you have to share it with people who took the train or just drove to the top, but it's nothing donuts and coffee at the Summit House can't alleviate. I took the hike in mid-September when several aspen stands were already in full Fall colors, which was nice. Many people complete the full 23 mile round-trip in one day. There are even scary-fit people who treat it as a marathon run and finish in just a few hours. I'm not one of them. I'm slow. So here are a few suggestions for slow rookie hikers like me:

1. The hike can be 1-way! The Pikes Peak Cog Railway offers hikers' fares on the first and last trains of the day (http://www.cograilway.com/rates.asp#hiker-rates). In my case, going down is hard on my joints, so for $25 I was able to take a train down. I'd highly recommend having a reservation in advance even if you plan on the round trip just in case. Think of it as a $25 insurance policy.

2. I did the trail over 2 days stopping off at Barr Camp (www.barrcamp.com) for the night. The camp is a not-for-profit cabin that's about 6 miles up the trail at about 10,200 feet. I was able to sleep in the bunk house, out of the elements, for about $43 which included dinner, breakfast, and complimentary ibuprofen (all of which I took full advantage). They also sell some beverages and snacks including Gatoraid and some wonderful energy brownies. Cheaper overnight options are available (tent sites and lean-to's) but the bunk house allowed me to only carry a light sleeping bag in addition to my normal day-pack.

3. The stated parking fee of $20 is no longer current. Fees are now closer to $40 a day. Moreover, the only way to pay is through the ParkMobile app. Setting up the app is time consuming and reception can be spotty at the lot so get it set up in advance. Additionally, there is a free shuttle service from a central lot (https://manitousprings.org/manitou-springs-free-shuttle-service/) but it may not be operating as early as someone would need for a 23 mile day. Schedule accordingly.

4. Speaking of parking, booking a night at Barr Camp entitles you to a voucher for reduced parking. I paid $25 for essentially two-days on the lot (normally this would be about $80). Make sure you display the voucher on your dash though, I got a ticket despite having paid (I'll update the review once the City of Manitou Springs determines my appeal.)

5. As with any Fourteener, be prepared for a 30 degree temperature drop between the base and the summit. Plan for windy conditions and remember that most everything you wear will be damp with sweat. I was glad I had kept a dry shirt and change of pants in a plastic bag in my pack. I was able to change once I got to the Summit House and start the process of warming up.

Overall, it's a challenging trail with the hardest and most technical portion (the Golden Stairs) saved for the very last part when your body is exhausted and the air is the thinnest. Not a good Fourteener to start with, but certainly worth training up for.

hiking
2 days ago

hiking
2 days ago

hiking
3 days ago

4 days ago

Love this trail. Challenging but beautiful views.

14 days ago

Love it.

hiking
16 days ago

hiking
17 days ago

Being from Illinois, I was afraid we would have trouble with altitude. We brought supplemental oxygen but never needed it, for which I am proud! Me and my fiancé are both runners and in pretty decent shape. Planned the hike 5 days after arriving to Colorado. Started out from Barr Camp trailhead about 4:30am and reached Barr Camp around 7:30am. Left Barr Camp at 8:00 am and summited at 1:00 pm. We planed for the hike from Camp to summit to be about 2 hours longer than the hike to Barr Camp. Took the Cog back down. Awesome views especially once you reach and pass tree line. Snacks, lots of water and frequent breaks were key in our success. We actually brought too many snacks. The doughnuts at the Summit House were very underwhelming. Overall, an awesome experience! We are now planning our next hike up to 14,000 ft!

hiking
18 days ago

My son and I hiked to the summit in about 9 hours. During the ascent we drank about 2 liters of water each. We packed way too much food; we ate a total of two clif bars, a handful of slim jims, and a small baggie of trail mix. Normally we don't hike with poles but did this trip. This would have been a lot harder for me without the poles to supplement the climb. The last 1,000 feet of the hike was bananas. Though low O2 and tricky boulder fields made for some lasting memories.

hiking
21 days ago

Parking is over $40 for the entire day, but the lot is directly at the base of Barr Trail.

I hiked / climbed Mount Whitney in June (including two serious uphill snow chutes) and this hike was WAY harder. The Barr Trail is longer, with more elevation gain, and some rougher terrain - especially in the last three miles. Having said this, the weather was perfect (absent the extreme temperature swing between the bottom and top), the scenery is awesome, and it is a notable accomplishment to go up AND back. I'll be back in a couple of months to ride my bike up the Pike's Peak Highway to the summit - this way I can say I drove it, hiked it, and biked it. I'll also be back to hike to the summit again, but maybe take a ride down..

hiking
22 days ago

Parking at the lot is $40.35 (via Parkmobile app) as of Sunday 8/27. I would suggest a carpool if you plan on parking there! This is a beautiful trail with camping options along the way in national forest lands. Going up and back in a single day is no joke but very rewarding. You'll be a legend up at the summit!

hiking
24 days ago

Took the Cog up and hiked down. We went in mid July and there were a few snow fields to cross near the top. Watch your footing through these. There was a Storm that came over while we were above treeline at around 11 am. These storms can be dangerous when so openly exposed due to lightning. With this particular storm there was sleet and rain, no lightning. The storm added to the experience for me. This is not a technical hike, but is very taxing on the knees because of the steep grade above treeline. We arrived at Barr Camp which is the half way point around 2 in the afternoon. We had reserved a lean to, but upgraded to inside main cabin due to being cold and rainey. There happened to be several bunks that were open. We left Barr Camp with very sore legs at 6am and made it to parking lot at end of trail at 10ish. The hike through the different ecological life zones and scenery is awesome! Highly recommend this hike. We will be going back to hike up it. Happy Trails!

hiking
24 days ago

hiking
27 days ago

My husband and I started yesterday at 4am and reached the summit at 2pm. Took a lot of breaks and enjoyed the amazing scenery! We are from Iowa and in decent shape and really had no issues reaching the top! Our success was made possible by drinking plenty of water, eating around 200 calories every hour and taking little breaks! The views are worth the work

hiking
28 days ago

I am in my late fifties. Hiked to the summit last week. It was an incredible and challenging experience. We started at 5 am, stopped at Barr Camp for half hour. As others have said, first 3 miles is pretty steep, and the last 2-3 miles steep with very narrow trails. Hydration is the key to prevent altitude issues, I drank 5 liters of fluids. Get a nice backpack with waist and sternum straps. Trekking poles are handy. Temperature drops significantly, so, pack some layered clothing. We encountered some deadly thunder, lightning and hailstorm in the last 45 minutes- no turning back, had to keep hiking. Get a good goretex hiking shoe. We had to walk on 2 inch thick slushy ice (from the melted hailstones) in the end, and the socks were totally dry!! Prepare yourself adequately for this hike. You need to have good endurance- running, squats, HIIT, all helpful. Dont underestimate this hike, but certainly doable. Respect nature!

trail running
30 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

Aug, 16. 2nd time. 1st time 1976. An amazing hike, but challenging!
This trail is well maintained for its length and difficulty- good job guys and gals!The trail is well marked with 4x4 wood mile markers and steel signage. Some intersecting trails at the incline and Barr Camp level.
I choose to hike from Manitou Springs to The Timberline shelter. Distance 9 miles, as opposed to the straight through hike or midway stop at Barr Camp. The timberline shelter is a 10x8 A-frame shelter with a wooden floor- good to shelter from the rain or hail- lightning is common above the timber line after 12 noon. It's available on a 1st come 1st served basis. Staying here allowed me to enjoy the hike during day light hours and a fresh start for the summit the next morning.
Park at the free lot! Corner of old man and El Paso, then take the free shuttle to the Barr Trail trail head. Limit what's left in your car due to the local homeless- no judgment.
The shuttle drop off is at the PPcog.. walk uphill past the incline trailhead to the 2 nd parking lot to the Barr Trail trail head. The next 3 miles is tough with frequent switchbacks, but amazing views as you climb out of the canyon. At 3 miles you reach a steel sign showing Barr Camp 3.5 miles. The trail is more comfortable to BC. After the 5 mile mark, you'll come to a sign showing 0.5 miles to BC and 6.5 to the summit.
At Barr Camp, you can refill filtered water from the stream in front of the cottage. Bathrooms for a pit stop and some limited supplies, such as Gatorade, brownies and other essentials. Arrangements, need to be made in advanced, to stay over night or to enjoy the spaghetti dinner.
The next leg was 3miles fromBC to the timberline shelter. The elevation rise from 10200 to 11500 in 3 miles. The trail is more steep as you rise to the timberline. The views of the valleys are breathtaking. You eventually come to a steel sign on your left. The shelter is down a trail about 100 yards. A stream runs next to the shelter. There are lines in the roof of the shelter for drying out your clothing and gear. A tinned area of the shelter is provided to use ur camp stove to cookiup a meal or hot tea. Check out the visitors names and dates of visit on the roof above. It's not uncommon for hikers to leave their gear at the shelter, while they summit, and reclaim it on the return trip.
The next stage, timberline to the summit. A 3 mile and 2615 ft change in elevation. I broke this leg into 3 sections. Mile 1 gets you above the timberline. Watch for the plaque memorializing a 88 yr female hiker, who became lost and died of exposer. this was her 14th summit- can u believe! Mile 2 gets you through the boulder field. Watch for wildlife such as the whistle pig and mountain rams. Mile 3, starts with the tough climb. At 0.5 you see a sign for the 16 golden stairs. They are more like 16 back and forth switch backs or 10000 individual steps! You are almost there! You can see and hear visitors at the summit. At the summit you see the hustle and bustle of the arriving Cog trains. Go inside and warm up. It's was f35. Enjoy the famous doughnuts or cheeseburger and Diet Pepsi, in my case. Don't forget to get a pic of yourself in front of the PP summit sign.

Things to remember;

1. Leave ur plans with a friend. Time starting and eta for completion.
2. No your limitations, the mountain is not forgiving
s.
3. Dress for the cold. Almost a f 45 degrees difference.
4. Bring change of clothing. To include shoe strings.
Food
5. Flash light and/or headlamp ,
6. Matches or light in case of an emergency.
7.dont rely on cell phones. No coverage.
8. Stay off the face above the timberline in the afternoon. Storms are a daily occurrence and the lightning is deadly.
9. Drink lots of fluids and replace electrolytes. I drank 1.25 gal
10. Enjoy your trip and take lots of pics. This is a trip to tell your grand kids about!

1 month ago

Climbed August 9, 2017 with wife and 5 kids ages 13-17. Started at about 5:30am and summited about 3:00pm. Bad weather was supposed to start around 1:00, but the Lord held it off till 3:00. Then it hailed like crazy! Looking out the window of the Summit House, all I could see was white. This is the 2nd year in a row for me and my family. My wife is 4 months pregnant and did the hike this year- she checked with her Dr. It's an intense hike that at times seems as though it will never end. My advice is to start early, like 3:30-4:00am and try to make Barr camp by 7:30-8:00am. If you're too pooped at Barr, hopefully you have train tickets already reserved for the ride down. You can go inside, and the workers at the camp will get you the phone number to the Cog Railway, that you can call and ask them to have the train stop and pick you up at "Mountain view". If you're not too pooped, keep moving at a steady pace drinking water every 1/2 hour and eating a snack every 1 hour. Don't get discouraged when you find out the "16 golden stairs" are really like 55 golden stairs, because all of a sudden you will see the Summit House out of nowhere and it will all be over. Be aware: the donuts are awful! I mean someone really needs to stand up and tell them (I kind-of flipped out up there) Really, the hike is great, but the prices for anything at the top are outrageous. I'm back in Ohio now, but I still feel like punching the next person that says "world famous donuts!"

1 month ago

Great hike. Bring lots of water. Some of the info is misleading. There is a fee to park at trailhead and process can be confusing. Watch at the point of intersection of the bail out of manitou incline and Barr trail that you don't go up the incline. In the dark it is easy to lose the trail and isn't marked at intersection. There is no water at Barr Camp you must filter at the stream. Loved the challenges it offered!