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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > Pikes Peak Ranger District

Quick Facts

Barr Trail

Beginning Elevation: 6,720 Feet (2094.8 Meters)
Difficulty: More Difficult
Elevation Gain, One-way: 7,390 Feet (2303.6 Meters)
Ending Elevation: 14,110 Feet (4398.4 Meters) summit Pikes Peak
Handicapped Accessible: No
High Point: 14,110 Feet (4398.4 Meters) summit Pikes Peak
Length, One-way: 13 Miles (21.67 Kilometers)
Other Maps: Trails Illustrated 137 Pikes Peak, Canon City
Trail Number: 620
Usage: Heavy
USGS Maps: Quads: Manitou Springs, Pikes Peak

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

When hiking the Barr Trail be sure to get an early start.  The first two miles are exposed and steep.
Copyright: Amy Pyle - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
When hiking the Barr Trail be sure to get an early start. The first two miles are exposed and steep.
The Barr Trail, named after its builder, Fred Barr was constructed
during the years 1914 to 1921. The trail climbs 13 miles from the Ruxton Trailhead (6,720') in Manitou Springs, to the summit of Pikes Peak (14,110'). The elevation gain of the Barr Trail is the greatest in the state reaching 7,258'. The trail passes through three ecological life zones: Montane, Spruce-fir and alpine. Wildlife species common to those zones are frequently observed.

Pikes Peak has been a landmark since before recorded history. It was named for Zebulon Pike who described the Peak in 1806 while exploring in the area to the south. The first recorded climb to the summit was in 1820 by Dr. Edwin James of the Stephen H. Long Expedition. At present, over 60,000 visitors per year are estimated to climb the peak on the Barr Trail.

14,110 +Summit
12,750 +A Frame
12,000 +
10,000 +Barr Camp
9,800 +
8,800 +
6,720 +Barr Trailhead

Be sure to get started very early in the morning. The trail is rated more difficult because of its long sustained grade rising to an especially high elevation. Although an average hiker might complete the round trip in about 16 hours, those persons not used to hiking, especially at these altitudes, should not attempt the round trip in 1 day. Because of the long sustained grade, even a one-way downhill hike from the summit is very tiring to the legs and feet when not conditioned.

Temperatures at the summit may be as much as 40 degrees cooler than at the bottom. Afternoon thunderstorms are common throughout the summer and snow or sleet may be encountered throughout the year. An open shelter is located about 9 miles up the trail just below timberline. Campfires may be built at this site. Barr Camp is another popular overnight camping or lodging spot operated under a special use permit with the US Forest Service. A charge is made for use of the facilities. Drinking water is not readily available. Water from streams should be treated before use. Hikers are advised to carry an adequate supply.

Directions from Manitou Springs: From downtown Manitou turn west on to Ruxton Ave. and drive 1 mile to the trailhead.

Directions from Cascade: Take the Pikes Peak Highway to the summit and hike down from the Peak on the Barr Trail.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Open: April through October .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Jill Malkowski
Time of Day: 7am first day and 5am on the second day
Length of Time: 6 hours to Barr Camp 8 hours to summit
Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Get an early start there is limited parking after 6am. I started around seven and and had to park 1 -1/2 miles away. If you are planning on camping overnight you will need to find a spot on the side of the road by the railway or just have someone drop you off. You can park in the Barr upper parking lot for 5 dollars per day however you have about a 10% chance of finding a spot. The trail is very busy for the first 2.5 miles due to the alternate descent from the incline. Once you pass the incline you only see trail runners and backpackers headed to and from Barr camp. The Barr trail is marked well for the first 9 miles, if you are headed to the summit during winter months you may have an issue with finding the trail to the top. Some people will venture off path and create their own way making it hard to keep on point. During the summer you wont have any issues.
Conditions: Up to Barr camp dry and hot the trail is well marked and levels out after the first 3 miles. After camp trail was colder, windy and in places snow and ice.
Water Availability: Just after 3 miles you will have a water supply on your left before you turn to head up for your last 3 miles but bring tablets. I took 135oz, 100 oz pack and a 35oz bottle and used about 75oz of my pack before Barr Camp. At camp you will find water but its not treated. Up to the summit you have no water and you will use every oz you pack.
Recommended Clothing: Wear good trail shoes loose gravel and rock. After Barr camp and about one mile from the summit I was thankful that I had gators. 1 1/2 feet of snow in places and with a 50lb pack you sink fast. The temp also drops as you climb so bring lots of layers and use as needed.
Suggested Accessories: I had shock poles that became a pain once headed to the summit but was thankful I had deep tread on my shoes and gators for the snow. The one thing I wish I had was crampons and knowledge not to purchase the doughnuts at the top, there are a huge disappointment. 5 bucks wasted!

Filed By: M. Smith (Loveland, OH)
Time of Day: early a.m. (started at 6:00)
Length of Time: 5.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Take more water than you expect to need.
Conditions: Snow was 1-2 feet deep the last mile or so.

Difficulty: Hard
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: someone on trails.com commented that this hike only took them 5.5 hours. unfortunately, i think it dangerous and misleading to think the hike to the summit of pikes peak will only take that long. everyone i talked to on the trail and barr camp said the hike takes 6-9 hours. it took me 7.5 hours and that was at a decent pace. you will need a lot of hydration to do this hike, but there is good (filtered) water available at barr camp (6.5 miles in) and along the trail in spots if you have a filtration pump. you might be advised to bring a tent or $15 to stay at a bunk in the barr camp house and do the summit in two days. this climb is very rewarding, with amazing vistas and wildflower viewing as well (including columbines). but dont underestimate this hike; its very strenuous. i decided i wanted to take my time and really have fun with this hike, so i brought my backpacking gear and stayed a night at barr camp before heading up the peak the next day. they serve a pancake breakfast ($5) and a spaghetti dinner ($7) at the barr camp every day, and you can sit around a big bon fire at night with the volunteer staff and other campers. very pleasant atmosphere there, and you will meet some interesting and nice people. i would highly suggest you take advantage of some of their mountain hospitality. if you want to tent camp, you can do so in the surrounding area for free, but i recommend making a small donation to barr camp. the climb up from barr camp to the summit (another 6 miles) will still take you another 3-4 hours, depending. make sure to start WAY early, because thunderstorms are likely any summer afternoon, and being above timberline during one is extremely dangerous and truly frightening. there is an A-frame right at timberline that is a good fall-back shelter in case the weather does start to go bad. give yourself another 2 hours to climb back down to barr camp from the summit, and another 3 to get back to the trailhead in manitou springs. i spent the night at barr camp again, after summiting on the second day. very nice. on the summit you will find great rewards, but also some annoyances. there is a summit house and gift shop for all the tourists who drive up pikes peak or take the train. the bad news is crowds and diesel fumes from the trains. the good part is that you can buy yourself a hot lunch, including delicious and hot hand-made doughnuts. and if you dont want to take the hike back down, you can hitchhike or take the train. just make sure to buy your ticket in advance, because you might not get on the train if you dont have a seat already reserved. the views from the summit are nothing short of amazing. one last note: be very careful if you want to bring a dog with you on this hike, even if your canine is an experienced trail dog. the trails are rocky and full of granite scree -- very hard on their pads. if you do bring a dog, keep em hydrated and be prepared with moleskin for the pads or even dog boots. linus moke http://www.linusmoke.com

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking Barr National Recreation Trail
ICON History Barr National Recreation Trail - tourism history on Pikes Peak
ICON Hiking & Walking Barr Trail
ICON Horseback Riding Barr National Recreation Trail
ICON Bird Identification Barr National Recreation Trail
ICON Mountain Biking Barr National Recreation Trail

Related Activities
Elk Park Trail - Elk Park Trail leads from the Pikes Peak Toll Road to Barr Camp. Users may take a short spur to an abandoned mining town from this trail.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Pike and San Isabel National Forests, 1920 Valley Drive , Pueblo, CO, 81008, Phone: 719-545-8737

Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, 302 North Santa Fe Drive, P.O. Box 697 , Pueblo, CO, 81003, Phone: 800-233-3446, www.pueblochamber.org


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