Get a FREE Consultation

6 Strategies for Climbing the Manitou Incline (or Reaching Any Goal)

goals Nov 09, 2023

 What is the Manitou Incline?

The Manitou Incline is an approximately 0.9-mile hiking trail near Pikes Peak in Colorado.  What makes this “trail” unique is that it consists of 2,744 stairs that begin at an elevation of 6,530 ft and summit at 8,550 ft.  The average grade is 41% and the steepest is 68%.  It has a difficulty level of “Extreme.” 

With the difficulty level so high, you might think only Olympic-level athletes hike this path.  That’s not the case at all.  Each year this trail attracts an estimated 70,000 visitors of varying fitness levels, ranging in age from 7 to 70.  Whether it’s making it up to the bailout points at steps 500 and 1300 or all the way to the top, climbing the Incline is quite an adventure. 

I thought this was the perfect opportunity to challenge myself physically, so I set reaching the Incline summit as one of my goals for this year.

How long does it take to climb the Manitou Incline?

Athlete Remi Bonnet holds the record for fastest ascent of 17 minutes, 25 seconds (September 14, 2022).  The average time for Seasoned Incliners and Olympic athletes is under 30 minutes, but most hikers take at least twice that long.  I’m 52 years old and would consider myself a novice hiker at an average fitness level.  In September 2023 I reached the summit in 1 hour and 55 minutes! 

What is it like climbing the Manitou Incline?

The first time I attempted to climb the Incline in September 2021 I bailed out at step 1300.  That was the most difficult physical activity I had ever accomplished up to that point, so I considered this a significant achievement.  That initial experience gave me a good idea of what to expect the second time. 

The Incline becomes more difficult after that bailout point.  What worked for me was going slowly, controlling my breathing, and resting briefly.  Being surrounded by others who were aiming for the same goal was also helpful.  We offered encouraging words as we passed each other.

The most difficult segment was around step 2000.  The stairs got very steep and were closer together.  My legs were shaking, and it was hard for me to stand upright while going up this section.  I looked down to see how far I’d come, thinking this might be helpful and encouraging.  However, this only made me realize how high up I was. Yikes!  Then I looked up to see how close I was to the finish line.  It seemed like I didn’t have much left, but it also seemed a bit too overwhelming to look at the remaining steps.  I reminded myself to just take the NEXT step. This quote from Confucius came to mind: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”  I looked at the steep steps ahead of me and decided it would be better to climb them like a ladder, so that’s what I did.  I was briefly concerned about how this looked to the people below me, but I decided to just focus on doing what I needed to do to reach my goal. It felt more like crawling up the steps, but I still got up them!  Making it past that section was the most challenging part of the journey. 

I made it to the summit. Now what?

So, after nearly two hours of stair climbing in high altitude, it’s time for a break, right?  Well, sort of.  Stopping at the top to take photos and celebrate this achievement was refreshing.  But then it was time to go down!  The recommended way back to the base, and the way I went, was a 3-mile trail that zigzagged down the mountain.  It’s a beautiful trail full of opportunities for some great photos.  This trail on its own would probably be considered “easy,” but after a 2-hour climb, it felt somewhat challenging.  My legs were tired, but knowing what I had just accomplished and that the rest of the path was literally “downhill” I mustered the energy to keep going. 

Overall, the entire adventure that began a half mile away at an Airbnb took a total of 5 ½ hours.  WOW!

What You Can Apply:

Even if climbing the Manitou Incline isn’t on your bucket list, the strategies I used for this challenge can be applied to any goal you aim to achieve:

  1. Identify what you want: Visualize your goal and why you want it.
  2. Break it down: Divide your big goal into smaller, manageable steps.
  3. Focus on the NEXT step: Reduce distractions and overwhelm by concentrating on the present moment.
  4. Concentrate on your mindset: Be intentional with your thoughts and actions and not so concerned with what others are thinking or doing.
  5. Seek inspiration: Remember quotes or words of encouragement to keep you going.
  6. Embrace support: Surround yourself with people who cheer you on.

What goals are you aiming for? If you’re not sure, check out my free course and other resources to get started.