Barr Trail / Pikes Peak

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↑ 34,000 ft
↓ 800 ft
elevation (ft)
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Out & Back
4.71 out of 5
About This Trail
added by JJonas Gnarly on September 13, 2005
actions now above photo
This trail climbs 7500 vertical feel in just under 13 miles to the top of Pikes Peak (6,600 to 14,100 ft). Since bikes are not allowed on the toll road, this is the only way to ride your bike to the top of Pikes Peak. Be prepared for fast changing weather and much colder conditions on top. The trail starts out with a few stairs and then enters a section of switchbacks called the incline. The incline climbs at an average grade of 11% for a couple of miles with it almost all being rideable. Once you pass through the rock arch, the grade levels out a bit, but it's still a continuous climb. You'll have a couple small flat sections between the top of the incline and Barr Camp. Barr Camp marks the mid-point of the ride in both distance and elevation gain. Up to this point, the trail has been 99% rideable, but beyond Barr Camp the trail gets much more difficult. Continue climbing up more switchbacks until you reach the bottom of the large cirque/treeline. To the left is a small green A-frame that can make a handy shelter in adverse weather conditions. a**s the weather before continuing on above the A-frame because there is no shelter from here to the top (still over 2,000 vertical feet above you). Once above treeline, the trail gets even tougher not only because of the lack of oxygen but also because of loose pea gravel and very large boulders. The trail switchbacks up and across the east face to the edge of the large chasm (~13,100 ft). You've still got another 1,000 vertical feet to go. The trail leaves the edge of the cirque back towards the middle of the east face to the start of the 16 Golden Stairs. The Golden Stairs are 16 pairs of switchbacks (32 switchbacks) that meander through the large boulders to the top. Most of the stairs are not rideable and it's so tight between some of the rocks that it's hard to carry the bike. Near the last switchback, you'll see the cog train at the top - You're almost there! Cross the tracks, get your obligatory summit photo, and grab a bite to eat in the cafe. Now reverse course and don't forget to use that thing you've got under the helmet. The ride down (especially above treeline) is a mental exercise in making good decisions. There is quite a bit rideable, but it takes good judgment to know when it's best to get off the bike rather than take a chance trying a technical section where you can't afford to make a mistake (You'll see what I mean when you get there). Once you're back to Barr Camp, take a breather and prepare for a screaming downhill back to your car. The forest service estimates that a round trip hiking will take approximately 16 hrs, but on a bike cut that in half (depending of physical condition and acclimatization), while the record for a round trip (by a trail runner) is a little over 3 hours!
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7 check-ins
on Sep 14, 2014
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Lifeisb96 on February 6, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: If you want to show who's the men from the boys this is it! The ride is breathtaking and dosen't seem as hard as it really is till Barr camp. I rode this monster in the summer of 2013. I caught it on a day after major rain and it was the best conditions! There was no one on the trail from the heavy rain and it felt very open and free. The trail got somewhat washed out but not too bad! The climb is something to dream about as its just so steep! It gets hard at the A frame and its hike a bike mostly up the 16 steps. Completely worth the ride up though! Make sure to take your water. Load yourself with all the water you can carry and a lot of high energy food. It also might be a good idea if you can't carry a lot of water to bring a purification device. It's high altitude like never expected. The altitude wasn't so much a problem for me because I'm a local and I'm very used to the high elevation but I defiantly had an effect on my water consumption. Bring tools also. I broke my rear derailleur on the decent between 2 narrow rocks. It's a place if you have a problem you have a big problem! But the ride down is super fast single track that is white knuckling and an adrenaline rush of 7500 feet which is very hard to get in one decent in the lower 48. Do it on a very quiet day with not a lot of trail traffic. Spring is a great time along with august. The hikers can become a danger to not only you but themselves especially below the incline and the 16 steps.

Similar Trail: Non other in its leauge

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mike_d_1583 on February 2, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Awesome trail with 8,600' of climbing in 13 miles. Mostly rideable up to Barr Camp, after that it gets really rocky and loose. Be ready for all types of weather and bring plenty of food. I went in July and found a natural stream with crystal clear water. Don't be a punk and ride up, don't get dropped off at the top.

Similar Trail: in it's own class

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Gdb49 on January 22, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Crazy difficult climb!! Fun down hill run. Too crowded in some areas.

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Eat2surf on November 5, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: When I included this in my book, Fat/Trax Colorado Springs, I got a bunch of crap. Reading these reviews makes me glad I did. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

Similar Trail: None like it.

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Berto.77 on September 21, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: This trail is AMAZING! We did the DH only. It has every type of terrain Colorado has to offer in one 13 mile decent. Super technical up top, fast flowy center section and a challenging lower section due to MAJOR erosion from the recent rains. I would recommend this trail to any advanced rider looking to test their bike handling skills and downhill endurance.

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morgenb11 on June 23, 2013
0 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: Looks like fun. really want to go here and bike

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aparkhillp on September 10, 2012
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: An update to my last post. I made it to the top of Pikes Peak today on Barr Trail. Definately one of the hardest things I've done to date.. Making it to Barr Camp isn't easy by any means but it's almost all rideable up and down. After Barr Camp on the other hand is grueling going up. Rock Garden after rock garden every 30-40ft or less. You just can't get any momentum or rhythm. If the big rocks don't get you the constant 1/2 inch to 2 inch deep pea gravel will. But I was determined to summit. Be ready to hike a bike atleast the last 3 miles and 3,000 vertical feet or so.. Ugghh.. And just to top it off you have the 16 golden steps that are really 32 gruelling pick your bike up and carry it switchbacks right at the end, testing your will and physical limits. Going down Barr Trail is a feat in itself with hike a bike sections through boulder fields. Take your time and focus because f-ing up is one thing you can't afford to do here. Check your ego and drop your seat for the gnarliest downhill of your life.. I would suggest having atleast one friend along with you for emergency situations.. Oh and take plenty of clothing for the rapid changing weather and a water filter for clean water at Barr or A Frame.. Enjoy

* Review edited 9/10/2012

Similar Trail: Colorado Trail

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aparkhillp on September 8, 2012
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: I gave this trail a good run two days ago making it to barr camp when clouds rolled in and it starting sprinkling so I bailed downhill. I'm on a cannondale flash 29er w/lefty and for the climb i'd hate to be on anything else. I'm attempting again in two days with better weather. The climb up makes the downhill all that much better because i've earned it, but i can't and won't hate on those who don't. Downhill on Barr Trail is a brake test for sure. You must do a good preride check on your bike because you don't wanna walk down this trail with bike in tow. ouch.... Oh it took me 2hrs 45 minutes to reach Barr Camp and about 45 minutes to get back down.. Also my warmup was a 5 am 15 mile warmup ride from my house and a 15 mile cool down ride home. You gotta love the Sante Fe trail here for connecting all of our awesome parks through the city..

* Review edited 9/8/2012

Similar Trail: Colorado Trail

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vbeckman74 on December 22, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: This is a life changing downhill ride. Get a ride to the top and bomb it. If you do it any other way you are in for a world of hurt. I did it on my 29er hardtail and had no issues. One guy in my group did it on a fully rigid single speed. Hikers have the right of way.

Similar Trail: There aren't many like this.

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rcraft6826 on November 1, 2011
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Review: Barr trail in my opinion is the best of both the worlds of cross county and all mountain. if you want one of the toughest rides of your life you can go from the bottom in manitou springs and climb the 7,000 plus vertical feet to the summit with no points of downhill or leveling out. if your not the type who is a cardio animal and want some of the most exciting downhill of your life you can opt to get a ride to the the summit and prepare for the ride of your life down. I would not reccomend anything that is less than 5 inches of travel as you will be quite sore from hitting all of technical rocks and roots within the first 30 minutes heading down. overall its about an hour and 45 minutes of amazing downhill if your riding at a decent pace and have a moderate skill level. A definite must ride for anyone who lives in the pikes peak region.

* Review edited 11/1/2011

Similar Trail: Deer Creek Canyon

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rcraft6826 on March 25, 2011
0 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: all in all a great trail. and a friend got a lift to the top and rode down.first mile from the summit is just about unridable do to the massive rocks above the treeline. but after you get below treeline is where the fun begins. extremely fast, fun switchbacks, great scenery. definitely not a trail for downhill beginners but if uve got experience its a must ride.

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pdinsurance on August 22, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Be prepared to do alot of hike-a-bike going up or down

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RideorDie on August 31, 2009
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Review: This is a great trail if you get a lift ot the top and ride down. You will likely still be hike a bike for the better part of the top 1/2 to 3/4 mile, but it is worth itif you have advanced skills. I suggest riding this either after the Ascent foot race, or during the week when foot traffic is lower. Wear body armor. with all of that being said, this is one of my all time favorite rides going down. Big rock obstacles, drops, switchbacks, jumps, speed, great views, and more. A must do if you live in the area.

Similar Trail: Mt. Herman Trail, Elk Park Trail

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Tinstar on July 22, 2009
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: My son and I rode this trail on 07-21-09. It's mostly hike a bike unless you can constantly climb up a steep grade on pea gravel and are a cardio animal. Be sure and take a water filtration device, you'll go through water like never before. There's plenty of streams to refill from. Ride/hike a bike to Barr Camp then do yourself a favor and ride back down. We went on all the way up to the summit. The last 1000 ft of elevation is brutal and you're just dragging your bike up the rocks anyways. We are glad we did it. Next trip we are driving to the top and riding the bikes down.

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JohnsXCbike on February 23, 2009
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: I rode this trail a while back, only went up to Barr Camp. Probably the Toughest climb I've done. I drank all my water by the time I got to Barr Camp, lol, so bring plenty on a hot day. Its a very rewarding ride though.

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Porach on August 25, 2008
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Review: This trail has two parts in my opinion. The cut off for the parts is about a mile to a mile and a half above Barr Camp (if you are ascending). Below this cut off this trail is great to ride where above it is hard to enjoy unless you are someone who enjoys picking up your bike allot and having to dismount/carry as often as you ride. Riding below the cutoff, which is about a mile or two below AFrame/Timberline the trail (if you are descending) becomes quite ridable and a blast if you like high speeds. Just watch out for hikers and it could be one of the best rides you ever had. I'd stay away from the top though because it is just not fun carrying your bike more then spend on it. Make sure your brakes are in good shape and your suspension is beefy enough to handle some large drops.

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dougsmith on September 23, 2007
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Review: For a long time I wanted to ride all of Barr Trail both ways. Last Saturday I had some friends hiking up the back side(the Craggs trail)of Pikes Peak. I went along and hiked my bike about 85 percent of the way up. Very tough hike! The reward was the downhill. Just be very kind to the hikers and let them through. Some amazing single-track with many boulders and roots to ride over and around. Some sections could be deadly if you wrecked on them. NOT A RIDE TO TAKE LIGHTLY, but one to remember.

Similar Trail: What else could compare with riding down a 14er?

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shane_anthony77 on June 12, 2007
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Great trail! There is some very technical riding at the top of pikes peak. After the A frame it starts to open up alittle with some tight tree areas. If you plan on riding up to the top and not shuttling I suggest you start extremely early in the morning.

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worm on May 4, 2007
0 out of 3 readers found this useful
Review: In my opinion this trail is not for mountain bikes. It is very popular for hiking and running. The vertical climb is unreal. Gorgeous, challenging, and tough, just better left to foot travel.

* Review edited 5/4/2007

Similar Trail: Vail Mountain if you want to climb.

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Barr Trail / Pikes Peak MTB Trail 4.71 out of 5 based on 19 ratings. 19 user reviews.
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Trail Features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Trail Conditions
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