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Hiking Pikes Peak 2022

Hiking Pikes Peak | Route Description, Map & Advice

Pikes Peak is one of the most famous 14ers, and the only one that gave a name to a major Colorado historical event. Even though gold was found north in Denver, the Pikes Peak Gold Rush is largely responsible for the state’s early development. The Barr Trail up to the summit is a Class 1 hike, but it’s the longest of any 14er with nearly 7,500 feet of elevation gain.

The Peak is also is home to the Pikes Peak Highway and Railroad, both which provide accees to the summit – though hiking Pikes Peak is much better! I recommend doing this in two days with an overnight rest at Barr Camp. Here’s more info on hiking Pikes Peak, in my Pikes Peak Route Guide.

New to 14ers? Get started with my beginner’s guide here.

Pikes Peak Details

TAKE CARE & STAY SAFE!

You are responsible for your own safety in the backcountry.

These peaks can be unpredictable and dangerous. Help is often hours or days away: your safety is primarily your responsibility. Prepare for your trek, understand your limits, be aware of the risks, and equip yourself with the necessary skills and gear. 

Hiking Pikes Peak - East Slopes Route

First time planning a 14er hike or climb? Start by reading the route description and reviewing the route map. You should use the weather forecasts to plan, along with my gear recommendations. Check the Trailhead info to ensure you know how to get there and have an appropriate vehicle. Stay nearby at one of the camping or lodging options below to acclimatize before your climb and reduce your risk of altitude sickness. Lastly, refresh your Leave No Trace and mountain safety knowledge to protect the peaks and yourself.

There is additional information about the peak, local regulations, plus additional resources and a frequently asked question section. Have a question? Leave a comment at the bottom of the route guide and we’ll reply ASAP with an answer. Cheers!

Route Description

Use this route description to plan your hike to the summit of Pikes Peak. This is the longest round-trip hiking route on any of the Colorado 14ers (most people do it over the course of two days).

Trailhead to Barr Camp (0 to 6.5 miles)

Start Elevation: 6,700 feet

End Elevation: 10,200 feet

The trail begins with a steady incline through a shaded forest of pines and aspens. The first few miles are the steepest, with several switchbacks providing stunning views of Manitou Springs and the surrounding areas. Around mile 3, you will pass the junction with the Incline Trail. Continue straight on Barr Trail. At mile 6.5, you reach Barr Camp, a popular rest stop for hikers. Barr Camp offers shelter, water, and campsites for those needing a break or planning to split the hike into a two-day adventure.

Barr Camp to A-Frame Shelter (6.5 to 9.5 miles)

Start Elevation: 10,200 feet

End Elevation: 11,750 feet

Beyond Barr Camp, the trail continues to ascend through dense forest. This section is moderately challenging with fewer switchbacks and a more gradual incline. The trail emerges from the forest near the A-Frame Shelter at approximately 11,750 feet. This is a good spot to rest and prepare for the final push above the tree line.

A-Frame Shelter to Summit (9.5 to 13 miles)

Start Elevation: 11,750 feet

End Elevation: 14,115 feet

The final section of the trail is the most challenging, as you climb above the tree line into a rocky, alpine environment. The trail becomes steeper and more exposed to the elements. At mile 10, you will reach the Bottomless Pit turnoff. Stay left to continue on Barr Trail. The remaining 3 miles are marked by a series of steep switchbacks known as the “16 Golden Stairs.” The summit offers breathtaking panoramic views and amenities including a visitor center and the historic Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

Route Maps

Route Map

This map shows the route and elevation using topographic contour lines. I recommend saving it on your phone and bringing a backup paper copy in case your technology fails.

Elevation Profile

This elevation profile shows the amount of elevation gain and loss as you ascend to and descend from the summit of Pikes Peak.

Barr Trail Elevation Gain

Route Photos

These route photos were taken along the Barr Trail and show what you should expect along the route between the trailhead and summit.

Current Conditions

Pikes Peak is a variable places, with snow possible during all 12 months. You can use the sources below to check for recent condition updates or post a request for an update from other climbers.

In the climbing world, current condition information is called “Beta.”

Where to Find Condition Reports (Beta)

Each of these websites allows users to post condition or trip reports with photos and descriptions of what they experienced while hiking Pikes Peak. Check them before you start making posts asking about conditions, or you may get scolded accidentally.

Where to Ask About Recent Conditions (Beta)

If you cannot find any recent condition or trip reports for Pikes Peak using any of the websites above, you can try posting on one of the social media groups or forums below to ask if anyone has been near the peak recently and can share some beta.

Weather Forecast

The National Weather Service forecast below for Pikes Peak provides everything you need to know to plan for your climb. Additional weather forecast resources include Mountain Forecast.

Barr Trailhead

The Barr Trailhead is the starting point for the Barr Trail, the most popular and well-traveled route to the summit of Pikes Peak. Located in Manitou Springs, Colorado, this trailhead serves as a gateway for hikers aiming to tackle the challenging ascent of one of Colorado’s famous 14ers.

Location:

  • Address: 515 Ruxton Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO
  • Coordinates: 38.8579° N, 104.9312° W


Parking:

  • Parking at the Barr Trailhead is limited and can fill up quickly, especially on weekends and holidays. Arriving early is recommended to secure a spot.
  • Additional parking is available at the Manitou Springs Incline lot, which offers a shuttle service to the trailhead. The shuttle runs regularly and is a convenient option for those who cannot find parking at the trailhead.


Facilities:

  • Restrooms: There are restrooms available at the trailhead for hikers to use before starting their ascent.
  • Water: It is important to bring sufficient water for the hike, as there are no water sources available at the trailhead. Water can be refilled at Barr Camp, located 6.5 miles up the trail.
  • Information: Trail information and maps are available at the trailhead to help hikers prepare for their journey.


Accessibility:

  • The trailhead is accessible year-round, though conditions can vary significantly with the seasons. Winter months can bring snow and ice, making the trail more challenging.


The trailhead has a large parking lot and pit toilet. However, parking routinely fills completely during busy summer weekends. Arrive by 5 a.m. to be sure you will secure a spot in July and August.

If you arrive and the lot is full, do not park along the road. It is patrolled during the summer and you will be ticketed and potentially towed. Return to the 2WD parking lot and walk or hitch a ride up to the top.

14er Gear List

Climbing any of Colorado’s 14ers requires careful preparation and the right gear to ensure safety and enjoyment. Here’s a comprehensive gear list for hiking Pikes Peak:

Essentials:
Optional Gear:
Winter Gear:
Clothing:
Footwear:
Communication:

Where To Stay Nearby

The area near Pikes Peak has great options for camping, motels, and Airbnbs. Here are some recommended places to stay near the Barr Trailhead.

Where to Camp Nearby

Finding an available site at a developed campground near Pikes Peak is challenging due to its proximity to Colorado Springs. This is especially true on busy summer weekends. To avoid stress and uncertainty, it would be best to reserve a site in advance.

These are some of the campgrounds closest to Pikes Peak: 


There are additional dispersed campsites along nearby forest roads, with designated signs for parking and setting up a camp, but these are very hard to secure and are first-come, first-serve.

You can learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.

Hotels and Lodging Nearby

Pikes Peak is very close to Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs, which are home to many great lodging options for your stay. From small motels and hostels to grand lodges, there is something for every type of traveler.

Here are several specific options I recommend.

 
If you book a room, you’ll support The Next Summit at no additional cost to you and a win-win for the mountains.

Leave No Trace

When setting out to hike Pikes Peak, integrating Leave No Trace (LNT) principles is crucial for preserving the delicate alpine environment of this Colorado 14er.

The following section offers guidance on how to minimize your impact while enjoying the great outdoors:

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Understand the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Check the weather forecast, and be aware of the terrain challenges you might face on Pikes Peak.
  • Preparation reduces the likelihood of resource damage and contributes to your safety.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Stay on established trails and avoid cutting switchbacks, which can lead to erosion.
  • In the alpine tundra, plants take years to grow and mere seconds to be destroyed by trampling.
  • If camping is part of your trip, use designated campsites at lower elevations to minimize impact.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack out all your trash, leftover food, and litter.
  • It’s essential to carry a bag for collecting waste.
  • For human waste, dig a cat hole 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, trails, and camp. Cover and disguise it when finished.
  • Pack out all toilet paper and hygiene products.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past; examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species by cleaning gear and boots before and after your hike.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts in the alpine environment.
  • Use a lightweight stove for cooking and a lantern for light.
  • If fires are permitted, use established fire rings, keep fires small, and burn all wood to ash.
  • Put out fires completely and scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance and never feed them. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Control pets on a leash at all times, or leave them at home.

Be Courteous to Others Outdoors

  • Respect other trail users and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Use headphones, not bluetooth speakers, and keep your noise down.
  • Give uphill hikers the right of way.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • If stopping, move off the trail to allow others to pass.

Incorporating these LNT principles into your Pikes Peak adventure is a commitment to conserving the mountain for future generations to experience and enjoy. By acting as stewards of the land, we can all contribute to the sustainability of the natural beauty that draws us to these heights.

Learn more by reviewing our complete Leave No Trace Guide for 14ers.

Safety Tips

Pikes Peak, standing tall at over 14,000 feet, offers a majestic experience but poses unique challenges. It is one of the most difficult class 1 peaks in the state, and people have still been seriously injured or killed there in recent years. Prioritize your safety with these essential tips:

  • Acclimate to Altitude: Spend a day or two at a lower elevation near Pikes Peak to get your body used to the altitude. Altitude sickness can be a serious concern and can strike regardless of fitness level.

  • Check the Weather: Mountain weather is notoriously unpredictable. Before you set out, check the local weather forecast and be prepared for sudden changes. Start early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms common in the Rockies.

  • Stay Hydrated: At high altitudes, your body dehydrates faster. Carry plenty of water — a minimum of 2 to 3 liters per person — and drink regularly throughout your hike.

  • Research Your Route: Take time to review trip reports, route descriptions, maps, and photos to help you navigate in the field and know if you are on the right track.

  • Dress Appropriately: Layer your clothing to adapt to the variable conditions. Include a moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating layer, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Don’t forget a hat and gloves, even in summer.

  • Stay on the Trail: For your safety and the environment’s protection, stick to designated trails. Shortcuts can lead to erosion and habitat destruction and can also put you at risk of getting lost or injured.

  • Know Your Limits: The terrain on Pikes Peak can be challenging, with loose rocks and steep sections. If you’re not an experienced hiker or if you’re feeling unsure, consider hiring a guide or joining a group.

  • Emergency Plan: Have a plan in case of an emergency. Inform someone of your route and expected return time. Carry a whistle, a mirror, and a small first aid kit. A satellite messenger or personal locator beacon (PLB) is advised for remote areas where cell service is not reliable.

  • Bring a Buddy: Never hike alone. Use the buddy system to ensure safety. If one person gets injured or sick, the other can go for help.

  • Share Your Itinerary: Tell someone dependable back home that you are climbing Pikes Peak and share as much of your plans and itinerary as possible. Tell them you when you will check-in with them, and who to call if you fail to do so.

Respecting these safety guidelines will help ensure that your climb up Pikes Peak is memorable for all the right reasons. Stay alert, stay safe, and enjoy the grandeur of the Rockies. 

Learn more by reviewing our complete mountain safety guide.

Permits, Regulations & Guidelines

There are no permits, passes, or reservations required to climb Pikes Peak at this time.

Please follow Leave No Trace practices and recreate responsibly to preserve free and open access to this Colorado fourteener.

National Forest Regulations

Follow these US Forest Service rules and regulations while hiking Pikes Peak along the Barr Trail or camping in the area:

  • Be aware & follow posted regulations on national forest lands.
  • Keep noise levels down to avoid stressing wildlife and livestock, as well as other visitors.
  • Respect private property.
  • Do not carve, chop, cut or damage any live trees.
  • Camping is limited to 14 days within any continuous 30-day period.
  • Developed campgrounds may not be used when posted closed.
  • No camping is allowed within 100 feet of all lakes, streams and developed trails except for designated campsites
  • Be sure your fire is completely extinguished before leaving. You are responsible for keeping fires under control.
  • Keep dogs and pets under voice control at all times.
  • Using or possessing fireworks on national forest land is prohibited.
  • Travel only on designated off-highway vehicle routes. Travel slowly through water or mud. Do not make new tracks outside of the roadbed. Obey road closures and locked gates.
  • Vehicles must obey posted parking regulations. Unless otherwise posted, one may pull off a road to park.
  • Wilderness areas have specific rules and regulations that must be followed in order to protect these areas from our collective impacts


Check the US Forest Service safety page for other general guidelines.

About Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak is a mountain in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, within Pike National Forest, 10 miles west of downtown Colorado Springs. Its summit is 14,115 feet (4,302 meters) above sea level, making it one of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners. Named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike, it is one of the most visited mountains in the world, second only to Japan’s Mount Fuji.

Pikes Peak has a rich history. It was originally known by the Ute Indians as “Tava” or “Sun,” and it played a significant role during Colorado’s Gold Rush, coining the slogan “Pikes Peak or Bust.” In 1820, Zebulon Pike attempted to reach the summit but was thwarted by the mountain’s rugged conditions. It wasn’t until 1820 that Dr. Edwin James, a member of Major Long’s Expedition, successfully reached the summit.

Ecologically, Pikes Peak is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The lower slopes are covered in coniferous forests, which give way to alpine tundra nearer the summit. The mountain provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, and a variety of bird species.

Geologically, Pikes Peak is made up of a characteristic pink granite, known as Pikes Peak granite. This granite was once molten rock, which hardened and crystallized deep underground. Over millions of years, erosion stripped away the overlying layers, exposing the hard granite peak we see today.

As for fun facts, Pikes Peak is home to the world’s highest cog railway, the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which takes thousands of people to the summit each year. Additionally, the mountain is the site of the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, a motorcar and motorcycle race to the summit that has been held since 1916.

Photos

These are a collection of photos of Pikes Peak. You can also find additional pictures in our route description above.

FAQ

Below are some of the most common questions we get asked about hiking Pikes Peak. 

If you do not see your question addressed below in our FAQs, comment at the bottom of the page, and we will answer it as soon as possible.

Q: There are several hiking trails to reach the summit of Pikes Peak, but the most popular one is the Barr Trail. Starting in Manitou Springs, it spans 13 miles one-way and gains 7,800 feet in elevation. Another option is the Crags Trail, which is shorter and less steep but still challenging, with a distance of around 14 miles round-trip.

The ideal time to hike Pikes Peak is from late June to early October when the weather is more predictable and the trail is clear of snow. However, the peak can be hiked year-round, provided hikers are prepared for changing weather conditions and potential snow on the trail.

The time it takes to hike Pikes Peak varies depending on the trail and the hiker’s physical fitness. For the Barr Trail, most hikers take an average of 7-8 hours to ascend and 5-6 hours to descend. For the Crags Trail, it usually takes 7-9 hours for the round-trip hike.

Some essential items to pack for a Pikes Peak hike include appropriate clothing layers, sturdy hiking boots, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, a backpack, plenty of water, high-energy snacks, a trail map, a compass or GPS device, a first-aid kit, and a headlamp or flashlight.

There is no permit required to hike Pikes Peak. However, there is a parking fee for the Barr Trailhead in Manitou Springs. Hikers are advised to check for any updates on fees and regulations before heading out.

The Barr Trail to Pikes Peak is a strenuous hike suitable for experienced hikers. It covers approximately 13 miles one way with over 7,500 feet of elevation gain. Key challenges include:

  • Distance and Elevation: 13 miles one way with 7,500+ feet of elevation gain.
  • Trail Conditions: Steep sections, rocky areas, and numerous switchbacks.
  • Altitude: Starting at 6,700 feet and summiting at 14,115 feet, which can cause altitude sickness.
  • Weather: Rapidly changing conditions, with common afternoon thunderstorms.
  • Duration: Typically takes 6-10 hours to summit and 4-7 hours to descend, often split into a two-day hike.


Preparation is essential, including physical fitness, acclimatization, and carrying the ten essentials. The hike is challenging but rewarding for those well-prepared.

A: Pikes Peak, known as “America’s Mountain,” is one of Colorado’s most famous 14ers. It stands at 14,115 feet and offers breathtaking panoramic views. The mountain inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful.” It’s a popular destination for hiking, driving, and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb auto race.

A: Yes, you can drive to the summit of Pikes Peak via the Pikes Peak Highway, a 19-mile scenic toll road. The drive offers spectacular views and several points of interest along the way. The road is open year-round, weather permitting.

A: While beginners can attempt Pikes Peak, it is a strenuous and challenging hike. It’s important for novice hikers to be well-prepared, physically fit, and aware of the risks of altitude sickness. Starting with shorter, lower-altitude hikes to build experience is recommended before tackling Pikes Peak.

 

A: Yes, it is possible to hike Pikes Peak in a day. Most hikers take between 6 to 10 hours to reach the summit via the Barr Trail, with an additional 4 to 7 hours for the descent. Starting early in the morning is crucial to avoid afternoon thunderstorms and ensure sufficient daylight for the hike.

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Notice: The material presented in this route guide may not be comprehensive or precise and should not be solely relied upon when planning your climb. Inadequate experience, physical fitness, supplies, or equipment may result in injury or fatality.

The Next Summit and the author(s) of this hiking guide offer no guarantees, neither explicit nor implied, regarding the accuracy or dependability of the information provided.

By utilizing the information herein, you agree to indemnify and absolve The Next Summit and the hiking guide author(s) from any claims and demands against them, including any legal fees and expenses. 

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Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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