Barr Trail to Pikes Peak

HARD 213 reviews
#3 of 127 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

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.

hiking
1 hour ago

Made the hike from Manitou Springs to the summit on June 23.

Parked at the trailhead a little before 5am. You pay for parking with the Parkmobile app - something that is noted on a small sign in the parking lot. The cost is $20/day, and the cops were sitting there when we parked (assumed they were waiting to ticket people).

The hike up to Barr Camp (about 6 miles) involved fairly large gains in altitude. We met several hikers & runners on this portion of the trail.

At Barr Camp, there is a sign that warns hikers that venturing out past the camp is at their own risk. There is a $500+ fee per person for getting rescued. The camp has a first aid station, a stream to filter water, and plenty of spots to rest and take a break.

Beyond the camp, the trail gets steeper and more rocky up to the tree line. Above the line, we actually lost the trail for a bit and had to boulder up about a quarter of a mile until we caught sight of the trail again (do not recommend this... the trail is much better).

The last 3 miles were fairly brutal. The terrain is much rockier and there are parts of the trail covered in snow. I highly recommend a solid pair of hiking poles (we did not have these).

We made it to the top around 4:30pm, after a couple more sections of bouldering to avoid ice. We were able to secure a ride down on the train ($40 per person) and enjoyed some hot donuts. (These donuts are nothing to write home about - but after the hike, they tasted amazing!)

Recommendations:
1) Do not attempt unless you are an experienced hiker.
2) Get to the parking lot at the trailhead early to get a spot. It fills up fast. Use the Parkmobile app to pay for parking once you get there.
3) Bring LOTS of water & drink often. Highly recommend a water filter. You will need at least 1-2 liters per mile.
4) Bring hiking poles.
5) Recommend purchasing a round trip railway ticket in advance (they now charge you full price to go down - unless you wait until the last train, which leaves at 7:20pm). If you purchase a ticket in advance, you are at least guaranteed a seat down. If the trains are already full, you can't ride. Another option is to hitchhike - which it seemed many tourists were happy to help (though I wouldn't bank on this option).
6) Have enough protein and carbs to sustain you.
7) Wear a lot of sunscreen.

12 hours ago

My wife and I hiked / climbed from trailhead to summit on Monday, June 19th. We stopped at Barr Camp to rest and visit and then continued. Sometime after passing the tree line, a couple groups told us they could not summit due to snow, ice, and losing the trail. We decided to continue. About 2.5 miles from the summit, we saw a group that appeared to stop climbing because of the snow and ice. We exited the trail and began ascending the mountain around the large patch of snow and ice - it required a lot of extra energy to climb vertically over rocks rather than hiking switchbacks. We located the trail again and stayed on it until we reached the summit, but still encountered ice and snow, including some patches that went up to my thigh. Careful footing and slow hiking with the use of trekking poles helped us to reach the summit. It was quite the adventure! We had reservations for the last train down the mountain and we enjoyed donuts and fries before taking the train ride back to the Barr Trail trail head. Due to snow, I would strongly recommend trekking poles in case you need to leave the trail and climb vertically over boulders and rocks.

21 hours ago

Pretty fair trail. Fun and invigorating

5 days ago

My brother and I are planning on making the trek from Manitou to Pikes Peak on Monday June 26th. This will be our first hike of this magnitude. If anyone makes the ascent over the weekend can you please give a snow report? Pretty confident that we can make it if the trail is clear, however I do not want to be trekking through snow to make it to the top. Any trip reports would be appreciated.

hiking
5 days ago

Took the Cog Train to Mountain View and hiked down. Don't let "hiking down is easier" fool you. Also, if you think you have enough water...you don't, take more. The last or the beginning of Barr Trail is tough. Everyone coming down was out of water. Next time I will be bringing a milk jug and my water thermos full of water. Also, on the last 3 miles near the incline, there are not a lot of places to rest. Yes, there are a few rocks but they are far apart. If you go on a hot day as I did, be prepared. The only main issue I had was that a bus full of visiting out of state teenagers decided to cut across to avoid the switchbacks. BAD. I wish people who visit the area would follow the rules. So many people work hard to maintain that trail. Please respect their work. Speaking of which, Thank YOU so much for having that wooden fence along the trail at the switchbacks, it really helped. Bring lots of water and eat a lot of calories, you will need it for this hike regardless of how you hike it.

hiking
6 days ago

7 days ago

hiking
7 days ago

9 days ago

Hiked Barr Trail from TH to summit, yesterday. Trail was clear of snow until roughly 13K. Lost the trail a few times- saw a few groups attempt to stick to the trail, I ventured to climb straight up from the 16 golden stairs (I usually never vary from trail but was sure to stay on durable surfaces). Be advised, some snow is very soft and fell through a few times. Other than that, weather was pleasant and the donuts at the top were great as always :)

hiking
10 days ago

Unbelievable trek. At about the 7 mile mark we encountered snow that erased the trail entirely by mile 9. We basically scaled the face of the mountain with no guidance and made the summit in 10 hours. Felt like Everest!

10 days ago

12 days ago

hiking
13 days ago

On 6/10/17 my wife, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law completed this trail as our first 14er. We are flat-landers from the Memphis, TN area, so training was a little difficult. We focused on cardio and endurance as preparation. I also did a good amount of research on-line; however, there were things we learned on the trail that I had not found and I will try to share.

We started out at 5:00 a.m. and had no problem parking. When we arrived there were only about 5 cars in the parking lot. The morning was beautiful with expected highs in Manitou of 88 and 54 at the summit. We made it through the first 3 miles pretty good, but noticed that we were only moving at a 1.5 mile/hour pace and we were out of water. Luckily at mile 3.5 we ran in to a stream and refilled our camel-backs. We also started picking up our pace, which was easier because we were in a flatter part of the trail. We arrived at Barr Camp at 9:30 and filled up our camel-backs in the stream there, ate some snacks, and bought a sports drink from the camp.

At 10:00 we set off again and hit some more difficult inclines, but we still made it to the tree line by 11:30. We reserved a seat on the COGs train for 4:40, so we decided to rest 30 minutes, because "surely we can do the last 3 miles in 4.5 hours". At this point we met some people coming down and they told us they were not summitting because of the snow situation. We decided to still go for it.

At 12:00 we left the tree-line shelter and started up. About 1/4 of a mile in to it we lost the trail because it was covered with snow. We decided to dig in the snow and climb straight up. At some point we located the trail again on the right side of the mountain. To do so though we had lost a good bit of time and energy scratching up through the snow. We did several switch backs on the right side of the mountain and then once again lost the trail. Looking straight up we could see the long switch-back that traversed the face of the mountain.

Without any visible trail we decided that we had to go straight up from here. This was another difficult, taxing climb that cost us about an hour and lots of energy. When we reached the switch back we ran in to a younger guy who said he got separated from his group and asked if he could join us. Together we started across the face of the mountain.

My sister-in-law started saying that she was getting dizzy and disoriented. We all discussed that it was either 2 miles up or 10 miles back down. We all agreed to keep going. As we crossed the face of the mountain in the snow we could hear water rushing under the snow like a river. This concerned us because we didn't know if the snow would break through or not. Also, our feet were sinking in the snow down to the flowing water and our shoes were filled with ice-water.

When we got across the face of the mountain we started up the switch-backs on the left side of the mountain. It was now almost 4:00 and we knew that we would not make our 4:40 train. We were completely spent, but kept pushing through. We started across the last long swtich-back and as we crossed the snow we could hear the water rushing under us again. When we ended up under the peak we lost the trail again, but could see the 16 Golden Stairs sign about 30 yards above us.

We climbed straight up in the snow again to reach the sign. This was another slow taxing climb through the snow and we were disappointed to see that the 16 golden stairs were not visible when we made it to the sign. It was now almost 5:00 and we discussed that our only option was to go straight up and muscle through the snow.

At about this time a group that had been trailing us, caught up to us. The group was led by a young lady who was apparently experienced. This was also the party that our new friend had gotten separated from. The young lady told us that our best option was to move left to the boulders and climb them. She was correct and it was much easier than fighting the snow. at 5:30 we made it to the summit completely spent and with numb feet.

We quickly went in to the store up-top and took off our shoes and wet socks. A park ranger approached us and said that the 6:00 train would be the last train and if we didn't get on, we would have to go back down the mountain. Another guy (that rode the train up) told us he had gotten to the top last year, didn't have tickets and had to climb back down. At this point, that was not an option for us.

Luckily I was able to talk the train operator in to taking us down. My sister-in-law was completely white and almost blacking out as we loaded the train.

I would advise all inexperienced climbers to wait until July or August to make this hike. If you do make this hike in June, make sure you have water-proof shoes. Also, if you are not going back down, make sure you leave enough time for your train. I had read that you need plenty of water, but it took

hiking
13 days ago

hiking
14 days ago

My son and I made the trip from Manitou Springs to the top starting at 5 am and reaching the top at 2 pm. We reserved parking in advance so that was very convenient. The trail is constant uphill so it goes slower than you hope, but we pushed at a pretty good pace for a couple of people from flatland Indiana. Got to Barr Camp by 8:15 and took a break for snacks until 9:00. Then the hard part really started as the altitude combined with the incline required more breaks. The really nasty part started after the tree line where we lost the trail many times. The last few miles were brutal. There was no trail from the 16 stairs sign on up so we went directly up the rocks which was exhausting. It was great to finish, but if I ever do this again I think I will wait until July when I am sure the trail will be visible.

hiking
15 days ago

we hikes this in august 2015. it was our 10-year colorado residency anniversary. it was a beautiful hike. we got started right before daylight without any headlamps as we allowed our eyes to adjust to the terrain and light we had.

i did this with my family - my husband and two teenage kids. we packed lots of water and change of clothes, socks, and rain jackets in case we encountered rain or stormy weather (thankfully we finished before storms rolled in). we wanted to be off the mountain by 12 and we did, so it wasn't bad.

we stopped at bar camp and had a snickers bar and a gatorade. the people working there were kind and welcoming.

after tree line, we someone lost the trail for a bit and found ourselves on some scree. we were still headed north but not on the trail... idk what happened. then a little later we found the trail again and continued up.

i loved this hike and the views that came with it. it was all of our first 14-ers.

hiking
20 days ago

I hiked up to tree line and turned back due to lot of snow. We could not see the path.

hiking
21 days ago

Epic hike
Will do it all over again any time

backpacking
23 days ago

Did this as a 3 day trip. One day to Barr Camp. I bypassed the parking issue by using Uber, which was way cheaper than parking at the Trailhead. There were masses of runners and hikers for the Incline trail. Once past the Incline trail, the hike was very lovely. The Barr Camp Hosts were very willing to make you feel welcome and comfortable.
Day two was the summit day, with an early start, but on May 31st the snow was soft and we were post-holing all the way up. Was very tiring. We skirted around the snowed-in golden stairway and went up the ridge on the left side. At the top, was all the people that drove up or took the train. Then Coffee, Yay! Then we did a bit of glissading back down. Another night at Barr Camp, then Day three as an easy hike out. Great Hike, but too many people.

25 days ago