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Tags:
Level: Expert
Length: 26 mi (41.8 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Out & Back
Elevation: +11,651/2 ft
Total: 100 riders
 

Mountain Biking Barr Trail / Pikes Peak

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#13 of 1,344 mountain bike trails in Colorado
#86 in the world

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!

First added by JJonas on May 5, 2020. Last updated May 5, 2020. → add an update
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Getting there
Take I-25 to Colorado Springs, go west on Hwy 24 to Manitou Springs. Exit and go through Manitou Springs to Ruxton Rd. (you'll see signs going to the cog railway, follow them). Turn left on Ruxton and climb up the hill past the cog train station and turn right up a steep hill to the parking lot.
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Barr Trail / Pikes Peak Trail map

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Trail conditions

Good (on Sep 28, 2019)
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Barr Trail / Pikes Peak videos

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Downhill Mtn bike Pikes Peak
 
Pikes Bike Mtn Bike -Barr Trail…
 
Pikes Peak Barr Trail (part1)
 
Pikes Peak Barr Trail (part 4)
 

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Rider questions

Q: Can you start at the top and just do downhill?
A: Yes! You'll need to pay the toll to drive up ($10 per person in the vehicle). More info: http://www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-trails/shuttling-pikes-peak-descending-an-iconic-colorado-14er-on-mountain-bikes/

Q: Are there any cheap shuttles that will take me to the top? I'd like to have my car waiting for me at the bottom
A: There are no legal commercial mountain bike shuttles to the top. The only commercial shuttles require you to ride down the road, not down any of the trails.

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Reviews

  • Destryf
    *****

    You got to do it once in your life. We got a ride to top. Hardest, scariest, most exhilarating ride I have ever done. The views are incredible. First 1/4 Is alot of hike a bike. Around the tree line is very technical but mostly ridable. Bottom 2/3 Is worth all the work. Hang on and let it rip. Not bad for a 50 yr old from Kansas.

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  • Orbit
    *****

    ENDURO!!! (Not for beginners.) But at least you get a good view from the summit!

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  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter
    *****

    Descending the Barr Trail off the top of 14,110-foot Pikes Peak was a mountain bike experience for the record books! Some people have claimed that there's an hour or more of hike a bike off the top, before you can start riding--I did 20-30 min of hiking, max. And if I was a better rider, I think I could have done less. IMO, it's all in how well-developed your skills are. I had a riot playing on all the rock features strewn across the alpine tundra, but I just HAD to stop and gawk at the view around every corner--its magnificent!

    However, my favorite portion of the trail was the section right below treeline to where the Elk trail comes in. This sections is extremely technical and challenging, but if you're game, you can flow it: pinning it through rocks, launching drops and jumps, and just generally having a great time! Seriously, this is one of my new favorite sections of trail in 2015--so good!

    We did this ride on a Monday, which was a good choice. Even during the middle of the work day, we encountered dozens upon dozens of hikers on the lower section of the trail (and several up higher). I can't imagine trying to ride this trail on a weekend or holiday. So pro tip: if you really want to RIDE this trail instead of constantly standing on the side of the trail, do it during the week.

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  • Aaron Chamberlain   ✓ supporter
    *****

    Rode this as a shuttle from the top of Pikes Peak. Absolutely amazing.

    There's just something so unique about being that high up with your bike. Very little of the top section is rideable, at least for me. If you've got Danny MacAskill level ability, then maybe it'll be different for you.

    Once you're back below tree line, the trail is much more rideable, but still very technical. Lots and lots of rocks and switchbacks.

    That goes on for quite a while before the trail widens and becomes much smoother. You can really haul ass in this section.

    The bottom of the trail has many wooden steps and tight switchbacks.

    We did this ride on a Monday morning, and we saw a ton of people near the bottom. I had to pretty much drag my brakes for the last couple of miles because of all the hikers.

    Pretty much everyone was friendly and got out of the way, but there was the occasional hiker with headphones that couldn't hear us approaching, our voices, or bells.

    I would not recommend doing this ride on a nice weekend. Your flow will be severely jammed up.

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  • John Fisch
    *****

    BIG mountain. BIG views. BIG vertical. BIG gnar. This is epic, rad, sketchy, treacherous, and BIG fun. Even with a shuttle, there will be a couple miles of hike-a-bike down. But once it gets ridable, it is oh, so worth it!

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  • slim_king10
    *****

    I did this trail last year. Absolutely loved it. We didn't ride up the trail though. We were dropped off at the top and ride down. Didnt care about the rewarding feeling of climbing to the top. I know how to reach the suck factor. I walked up and down with my dog after being back in CO for only a week. That was enough suck for me. All I cared about was the ride down. I plan on riding up in the near future. It took us a total of 1:20 to get down. That includes a break at Barr Camp and of course navigating hikers and dogs.

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  • Low rating only due to timing. Do NOT ride this trail on a weekend day with nice weather when amateur hikers are likely to be out. I live west Denver and ride front range trails daily. But I had to dodge toddlers, cub scouts, and non stop hiker after hiker on the way up. After an hour, I only got 1.3 miles and decided to have a more productive Saturday. Maybe this is an awesome trail, but I won't be doing it again on a crowded day.

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  • Lifeisb96
    *****

    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.

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  • Eat2surf
    *****

    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!

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  • Berto.77
    *****

    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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  • *****

    Looks like fun. really want to go here and bike

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  • aparkhillp
    *****

    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

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  • aparkhillp
    *****

    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

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  • vbeckman74
    *****

    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.

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  • rcraft6826
    *****

    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

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  • rcraft6826
    ****

    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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  • RideorDie
    *****

    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.

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