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Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Marathon

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Marathon

Postby msmaddox » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:43 pm

So I'm new to this forum, but don't feel right calling myself a 14er. I've climbed Pike's Peak 3 times as a kid - the last time was 32 years ago when I was 15! It's always been on my bucket list to climb it one more time & this summer I'm looking to take my family up. Here's my question:

Due to school conflicts with my oldest (just finishing her freshman year of college), we only have a 14 day window of opportunity. Right smack in the middle of that time frame is the Pike's Peak Ascent & Marathon. I'm guessing that the crowds have grown a bit since the late 70's & early 80's & I'd like to avoid the training runs. How are the days immediately preceding & following the marathon? I'm guessing after the marathon, there won't be any runners, but I'm wondering what the tapering schedule is like for the runners the week of the race. Also, will there be a lot of extra activity on the trail due to prep & break-down for the race?

Any input is greatly appreciated! I'm SO looking forward to sharing this event with my husband, 19 yr old & 12 yr old. I have such great memories of the Peak from my childhood.

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby peter303 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:27 am

All the crowds will be around the road. I've climbed Craigs Trail a couple times during the annual stock car race. The only congestion was at Devils Playground, a parking/viewing area and on the the summit.

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby Jim Davies » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:42 am

The Crags trail should be unaffected by people training for the marathon, although I'd avoid the weekend of the race if possible, as the summit will be a circus. Barr Camp will also get busy for a day or more before the race, as they use it as a support station. Barr Trail gets a little busier due to training before the races, but it shouldn't really be a problem. You'll see traffic every day on lower Barr Trail from Incline users, but even that shouldn't cause any problems unless you're the type that insists on blocking the trail when runners try to pass.

I assume Peter is thinking of the Hill Climb (auto race) instead of the Marathon. It happens in early July, the Marathon in mid-August.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby Jeff Valliere » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:44 am

Do you have a route in mind? Prior to PPA/PPM, you may find increased runner traffic on the Barr Trail, especially on weekends, but not such that it would be overwhelming (though is very busy at/near the trailhead). If you are looking for a bit more solitude (and a shorter route), then the route from the Crags Trailhead would be preferable. Can't go wrong either way though. Good luck!

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby jrs1965 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:13 am

I always stay away from Manitou Springs on the weekend of the Ascent/Marathon. In general Barr Trail all the way to the summit to include the summit itself is a circus in August. Perhaps a weekday prior to the Ascent/Marathon might be okay. I usually do the Incline weekly and then come down Barr Trail and as the Ascent/Marathon gets closer I always see more runners on Barr Trail. Regardless, traffic below the Incline turn-off (first 2.5 miles) can be bad any day of the week almost year round. As Jim mentioned it’s not a good idea to block the trail when runners try to pass. No idea why but typically it seems like the senior citizens like to try this tactic...

Here’s the Barr Camp link if you have not already found it:

http://www.barrcamp.com/index.php

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby johnF » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:17 am

One thing in response to your question about racers' tapering schedule: In the last days before the races, lots of people drive to the top and run up & down within the top 3 miles -- it's good tapering since it's short but at altitude. Probably from about 8am to 11am, the top of the trail is a bit hectic, and then all those runners start heading down.

There is some set up & clean up, but that won't really interfere with hiking Barr. The days after the races will definitely be emptier on the trail than the days before, but either way you should be fine.

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby msmaddox » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:34 am

Thanks so much for all the input! You've reiterated what I was thinking which is maybe a couple of days on a weekday after the race would be best. I want to go on Barr Trail purely for nostalgic reasons. And no, being a former runner myself, I'm not one who wants to block the entire trail. :-D I'd just rather not put myself in a position where I know for certain there will be several hundred runners competing for trail space with me!

Another question about the incline -- back in 1981 when I last did this in a day, we took the incline up Mt. Manitou to cut off those first few miles. Obviously, that's not an option, but are y'all saying that you run up the incline path, then take Barr Trail down??

Thanks again & I'm really looking forward to seeing the Peak again!!

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby Jeff Valliere » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:47 am

msmaddox wrote:Thanks so much for all the input! You've reiterated what I was thinking which is maybe a couple of days on a weekday after the race would be best. I want to go on Barr Trail purely for nostalgic reasons. And no, being a former runner myself, I'm not one who wants to block the entire trail. :-D I'd just rather not put myself in a position where I know for certain there will be several hundred runners competing for trail space with me!

Another question about the incline -- back in 1981 when I last did this in a day, we took the incline up Mt. Manitou to cut off those first few miles. Obviously, that's not an option, but are y'all saying that you run up the incline path, then take Barr Trail down??

Thanks again & I'm really looking forward to seeing the Peak again!!


I agree that any of the weekdays following race weekend would be least crowded, but if you decide to go before, most of Barr Trail will still be relatively quiet (aside from the first few miles which are almost always busy and upper miles/summit which can be busy at times). I have found that the majority of runners are quite courteous to fellow trail users (though watch out for the "non runners" running down lower Barr after going up the incline).

The incline is a viable option to cut a little distance, but is steep and might not be advantageous to everyone.

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby johnF » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:53 am

msmaddox wrote:Another question about the incline...


Sounds like you're unfamiliar with what "The Incline" means today... and maybe that made some of the previous posts hard to follow. Yes, the Incline is now open for hiking, and it sees LOTS of use. Many folks hike up the Incline for an intense workout, and then run back down the bottom 2.5 miles of Barr. You can also hike the Incline and then continue up Barr to the peak. This shortens the distance by about 1.5 miles, but does not really affect the time taken, as the Incline is steep and very slow going.

The Incline still has most of the railroad ties in place, so it's kind of like a massive stairway. And technically, nobody "runs" up the Incline ;) If you're looking for nostalgia, and you rode the Manitou Incline when it was still around, I'd recommend hiking the path during your visit. But I'd probably do it a different day than you do Barr, and plan to have sore legs afterward.

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby jrs1965 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:35 pm

msmaddox wrote:Another question about the incline -- back in 1981 when I last did this in a day, we took the incline up Mt. Manitou to cut off those first few miles. Obviously, that's not an option, but are y'all saying that you run up the incline path, then take Barr Trail down??


The mentioning of the “Incline path and then Barr Trail” is the route used by the 100’s of people that do the Incline everyday. The Incline hikers will be encountered on the first 2 ½ miles of Barr Trail and the Ascent/Marathon folks will be training on the entire length of Barr Trail.

I have also taken the Incline route to shorten my distance to the summit of Pikes Peak but only during cooler weather. I would rather take Barr Trail during the warmer weather and conserve my water/legs. Even on the cooler days I have opted to jump off the Incline at the halfway point where Barr Trail and the Incline meet. Exiting the Incline at the halfway point avoids the steepest part of the Incline and the more monotonous lower switchbacks on Barr Trail. The Incline halfway point or “bailout” is easy to find just look for the split rail fence on the left side of steps.

If you do opt to climb the entire Incline there are two trails at the Incline summit. Take the uphill trail to the right which goes through the old abandoned Incline summit house foundation. This trail links up with Barr Trail after about ½ mile. The flat trail going to the left on the Incline summit follows a buried water pipe for about ¼ mile and ends abruptly at a pipeline bridge...

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby msmaddox » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:26 pm

johnF wrote:
msmaddox wrote:Another question about the incline...


Sounds like you're unfamiliar with what "The Incline" means today... and maybe that made some of the previous posts hard to follow.


LOL - that's true! I had NO idea of what The Incline meant in today's terms! And I'm thinking based on what I'm hearing that we'll just take Barr Trail up from the beginning - no point in exhausting my legs from the start! Although, I kind of like the idea of doing the incline on a separate day - maybe to help us acclimate since we're coming from the flatlands of eastern PA. You know, when I did this originally, Barr Camp was just a place for us to pitch our tents. Certainly no one there offering us spaghetti dinners & pancake breakfasts! Oh, but how I remember the donuts at the top...

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Re: Crowds at Pike's Peak immediately before & after Maratho

Postby johnF » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:48 pm

The donuts are still there, at least that hasn't changed! ;)

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