Peak(s):  Pikes Peak  -  14,110 feet
Date Posted:  06/09/2007
Date Climbed:   06/09/2007
Author:  Summit Man

 Pikes Peak - Barr Trail from Manitou Springs  

To: All Hikers of America
From: Summit Man (aka - Carl)

Background -
Many years ago I played military games. For multiple reasons the doctors gave me < 1% chance of seeing 30 birthday candles on my Birthday Cake (which should be classified as a "food group") But I stayed active - climbed my first Colorado 14er loooong ago. And now - with my 50th Bday a thing of my past, I‘ve found the summit of over 35 of the 53. I‘m always amazed how many reasons (i.e. "excuses") healthy couch taters can dilude themselves with to avoid what Mother Nature offers any of us who choose to enjoy.

"Nuf philosophy.

Pikes Peak - BARR TRAIL:
Why I LOVE this hiking trail:
1. It is the longest 14er trail in Colorado. 13 miles from trailhead to summit.
2. Elevation gain is the greatest of any of Colorado‘s 53 14er peaks. 7,500 feet! Putting that into perspective, Sears Tower in Chicago is 1,450 feet tall. That equates to "hiking" up and down the Sears Tower stairs SIX TIMES!
3. The beginning elevation at Barr Trail trailhead is the LOWEST starting elevation of any Colorado 14er peak. That means hikers cross through a multitude of plant eco zones - more than any other Colorado peak, 14er or not!
4. The trail is excellent! Best built and maintained trail of any 14er. I tip my hat to the builders and the annual volunteers that keep Barr Trail in outstanding condition!
5. Variations! Over the years I have begun my Pikes Peak hiking for SEVEN different trailheads! I‘ve set out from the (west side) Crags Campground trailhead, made the summit of Pikes from a west-to-east direction, then down the east side Pikes along the Barr Trail with a ride awaiting me at Manitou Springs. I‘ve hiked to the summit and then caught a car ride down the vehicle road. I‘ve taken the Cog Rail ride from Manitou Springs to the summit, then hiked down the Barr trail in company of elderly hikers unable to manage the long assent of Barr Trail.

What some do NOT like about the Pikes Peak Barr Trail:
1. Same as above! The trail is loooong. You need to begin early in the morning to complete this hike! The elevation gain is a definate "take-my-breath-away" experience! Although some make a two-dayer of this hike (overnighting at the 7-mile point at Barr Campground), I have always made this a day hike.

Hit the Barr Trailhead at 5:15 a.m. on a dead calm June 9 Saturday morning. There was plenty of parking at the Manitou Springs lot (just above the Cog Railway Station - well marked with metal signage). After a 20 minute hike, I opted to stop and enjoy one of my favorite colors - ANY SHADE OF SUNRISE! The Barr Trail sunrises are TLF (to-live-for). It is easy to see all of the inspiration that must have overwhelmed Fransis Scott Key when she sat upon Pikes summit and formed the lines of America the Beautiful.
For those on their "first time" Barr Trail trek, you will find it is almost impossible to get lost. Numerous solid metal signs mark the trail forks keeping you zeroed in on the ture Pikes summit trail.
I stopped a couple of times to smell the Ponderosa Pine trunk bark - smells like vanilla and long ago this bark was used as a "spice". Plenty of deer and elk droppings littered the trail. How does one tell the difference between the two? Well...Elk poop is just a littttle bit bigger. And it is MUCH saltier than deer poop. I‘ve personally verified the first, but NOT the second (teehee). But if you choose to test #2, enjoy the culinary experience and "dig in".....
Important Snow Report: I‘ve hiked this trail where it was snow-free on Mothers‘ Day, and have found plenty of snow on 4th of July in other years! Like all 14er hikes, the winter snow depth and spring temperatures can create uncertanties in hiking conditions. Today, the Barr Trail was snow-free until just below timberline (about mile 9.5). Then just past the Timberline Shelter (mile 10 and at treeline) the snow disappeared until 1.5 miles from the summit. I had ski poles which came in handy. Did not have snow shoes and "shoes" were not necessary. Did do a little "post holing" (where your foot instantly sinks in snow to your shin..or knee...or crotch!).
Made the summit in 5 hours. After 30 minutes of enjoying the awesome summit views, I began the return trip. Total round trip time for me was 9 hours. The snow near the summit added a little hiking time. My best guestimate of a snow-free date for Barr Trail is no later than first day of summer (June 21).
Primrose, bluebells, and hummingbirds were abundant.

Happy Hiking,
Summit Man


 Comments or Questions

Author confusion
02/05/2011 00:22
Now, wait a minute: ”America the Beautiful” was written by Katherine Lee Bates. OTOH, Francis Scott Key (who was a man) is the author of ”The Star-Spangled Banner” (some fifty years earlier), and I don't think he ever made it anywhere west of the Mississippi.
That said, Thanks for the TR. I'm impressed with your time up of 5 hrs., especially with snow to slow you down. I run trails, and have serious doubts that I could match this.


Great report
11/30/2010 17:28
Thanks for the information. I'm Contemplating doing the Pikes Peak Challenge this year and this is the only current report from the Barr Trail I could find...Again thanks for the report and the pros vs cons to this hike.

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