For locals and visitors to Colorado Springs and the greater Pikes Peak area, perhaps the most popular trail around is the Barr Trail, which begins in the touristy town of Manitou Springs. Parking is always a challenge in Manitou, so the city offers free bus shuttles. Park at the large lot just east of Memorial Park, where you can catch the shuttle. Take the shuttle for about 10 minutes to the end of the line turnaround on Ruxton Avenue. This busy area also accesses the beginning of the Incline, so bear left of the Incline area along the road or trail to the signed parking lot and trailhead for Barr Trail.
Start as early as possible on this busy trail, because when the Incliners get to the top, they pour down the Barr Trail and it can get quite crowded. Climb a lengthy series of switchbacks with some fine views of Colorado Springs and the flat horizon of the Great Plains. After about 21/2, miles, hikers will pass a trail to the right to the top of the Incline and beyond this point the crowds thin out. Continue westward for about one-half of a mile to an area known as No Name Creek. This is a nice spot for a break; while hikers are only about halfway to Barr Camp, most of the elevation gain has been completed here.
Take the left fork here, following the signs for Barr Camp and Pikes Peak. The trail flattens out for a while, then alternates with climbs and flatter terrain. In rocky areas, listen for the song of the canyon wren, a descending cascade of loud whistles.
Continue for about 3½ miles through open forest with some nice views of Pikes Peak, finally reaching Barr Camp at 10,200 feet. The Camp has a staffed cabin where hikers may seek shelter, eat or sit at the picnic tables outside along the creek. At this elevation, visitors have a good chance of seeing Clark’s nutcrackers and gray jays. Cabin and lean-to rentals are also available (visit barrcamp.com for details). After relaxing and enjoying the camp area, retrace all steps back to parking area.
Joe LaFleur has lived in southern Colorado since 2016 and is a hiking enthusiast who hits the trails weekly. Contact Joe with questions or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hiking is great exercise, but can be hazardous. Always be sure to plan well, check the weather, bring a printed map, tell someone where and when you are going, and contact them when you return safely.