Pikes Peak via Barr Trail: A Cyclist's Dream Challenge
Venture on a breathtaking journey to the top of the iconic Pikes Peak through the Barr Trail. Spanning nearly 13 miles, this trail pushes the limits, ascending a whopping 7,500 vertical feet from a starting elevation of 6,600 ft to a staggering 14,100 ft at the summit. Exclusively for those daring cyclists who dare to tread where cars can't, Barr Trail offers a singular route for bikers.
Navigating the Trail
- The Start: The ride commences with a challenging series of stairs that quickly leads to the incline, a series of switchbacks boasting an average grade of 11% for several miles.
- Rock Arch Passage: This signals a slight reprieve as the gradient eases slightly, but it remains a persistent climb.
- Mid-way Point: Barr Camp marks the halfway point both in distance and elevation. Until here, 99% of the trail is rideable. However, post this, the trail becomes noticeably more challenging.
- Higher Altitudes: As riders ascend, the trail confronts them with more switchbacks leading to the treeline's base. Here, a green A-frame stands as a potential refuge against unpredictable weather.
- Above the Treeline: This section tests riders with not just reduced oxygen levels but also obstacles like loose gravel and boulders.
- 16 Golden Stairs: As riders approach the end, they're met with 16 pairs of switchbacks weaving through massive boulders. Most of these are not rideable and require carrying the bike.
- The Summit: After overcoming these challenges, cyclists are greeted with the cog train's sight signaling their proximity to the peak. Celebrate with a quick bite at the summit café.
The ride back down offers its own set of challenges. A blend of adrenaline, breathtaking views, and treacherous terrains require a sharp focus. Upon reaching Barr Camp, prepare for an exhilarating downhill sprint.
For those eager to take on this challenge:
- Start on I-25, heading towards Colorado Springs.
- Progress west on Hwy 24 until reaching Manitou Springs.
- Follow the signs to the cog railway, turning left onto Ruxton Rd.
- Continue uphill past the cog train station, finally making a right turn to reach the parking lot.
What Cyclists Are Saying
- "Enduro! Not for beginners but offers a spectacular view from the top."
- "Descending Barr Trail off Pikes Peak was unforgettable. The rock features and views were a treat, but the trail below the treeline to the Elk trail intersection was the highlight!"
- "Though technical and challenging, it's a rewarding experience. But remember, weekdays are best to avoid the crowds."
- "There's an incomparable feeling when biking at such an altitude. While the top sections can be daunting, the thrill begins once below the treeline. Smooth, fast-paced, and full of twists and turns."
Undoubtedly, the Barr Trail offers a blend of challenge and beauty. Whether to boast a sense of achievement or simply for the thrill, every dedicated cyclist should aim to conquer this trail at least once. However, always be prepared, respect other trail users, and remember - the weather can change in an instant. Safe cycling!