Ever wondered where the longest staircase in America is? Look no further than the Manitou Incline trail in Colorado. We’ve included some fun facts about the Manitou stairs below, as well as a couple other popular hikes in Colorado.
The Manitou Incline
Officially named the Manitou Incline, this steep hiking trail near Colorado Springs is essentially a giant staircase. The path consists of a series of wooden stairs built along a steep 1-mile incline carved into the side of Mount Manitou. The trail has a formidable elevation change measuring more than 2000 feet from the first step to the last. But once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to some spectacular views of Pike’s Peak and the Rocky Mountains.
The Manitou Incline began its life as a railway line built for moving construction equipment and supplies up to the top of the mountain. Later it was used for cable cars that brought tourists to the summit to view nearby Pike’s Peak. Eventually the cable line was removed, but the wooden rail ties were left intact, forming a perfect staircase. The site quickly became a popular attraction for local hikers willing to trespass on railroad company property and test their endurance.
Today the staircase has been officially recognized by the state of Colorado as a hiking trail and is legal to climb. The area is accessible by shuttle or car from the nearby mountain town of Manitou Springs.
Just how long will it take to climb the stairs? Although it’s only about a mile, the steep elevation and altitude can make this a moderately challenging climb even for athletic hikers. The current record for fastest time is a topic of some debate. However, it’s believed to be held by Joseph Gray from the US Mountain Running Team, who reached the summit in only 17 minutes 45 seconds in 2015.
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Seven Bridges Trail
Another popular trail in the Colorado Springs area is the Seven Bridges Trail. The trail is located in the North Cheyenne Cañon Park, which is part of the Pike National Forest. The trail is known for its picturesque beauty, stunning views, and of course its multiple wooden bridges.
The trail takes its name from the seven bridges you’ll cross as you make your way along the path. These bridges provide both functional crossings over the North Cheyenne Creek and charming spots to pause and enjoy the sights and sounds of the rushing water. The trail winds through a serene forested area, offering a mix of shady pathways and open sections that provide glimpses of the surrounding mountains.
However, the Seven Bridges Trail is considered moderately difficult due to its elevation gain and uneven terrain. The elevation gain can be challenging, especially at higher altitudes, but the effort is well worth it for the rewarding views and peaceful atmosphere. The trailhead is located at the end of North Cheyenne Cañon Road, and the hike itself is around 3.7 miles roundtrip.
During your hike you'll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the canyon below, the city of Colorado Springs, and the surrounding mountains. In the spring and early summer, the trail is often adorned with wildflowers, adding an extra touch of beauty to the journey.
Mount Muscoco Trail
The Mount Muscoco Trail is another popular hiking trail located in the North Cheyenne Cañon area of Pike National Forest. This trail offers hikers the opportunity to ascend to the summit of Mount Muscoco, providing panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Similar to Seven Bridges and the Manitou Incline, the Mount Muscoco Trail is considered moderately challenging due to its steep incline and rocky terrain. The trailhead is located near the Starsmore Visitor and Nature Center in North Cheyenne Cañon Park. The hike is approximately 4 miles roundtrip, and hikers can expect an elevation gain of around 1,300 feet.
As you ascend, you’ll pass through diverse ecosystems, including pine and spruce forests, aspen groves, and meadows. The trail is well-maintained but can be narrow and rocky in places, so sturdy hiking footwear is recommended. Along the way, there are several viewpoints that offer glimpses of Colorado Springs and the surrounding alpine landscapes.
Upon reaching the summit of Mount Muscoco, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views that extend from Pikes Peak to the Garden of the Gods and beyond. It's a fantastic spot to take a break, have a snack, and soak in the natural beauty of the region.