The more I come back to Manitou, the more I grow to love it. I grew up here, so I’ve been able to see the changes over the years, and there have been a lot. At its core, Manitou is tourist hamlet of 5000 full-time residents with an array of various tourist attractions, like the Cog Railroad and the Cave of the Winds that are derived from the hills and mountains that surround the town. Growing up, the main street was filled with kitschy T-shirt shops and souvenir stores. Some of them still exist, but the town has undergone a bit of a renaissance as of late, with a variety of great new stores moving in, and the sidewalks and streets undergoing a renovation. Old, dilapidated buildings have been renovated and the town overall is much improved.
Manitou is known more as an artists enclave than as an outdoor destination, but there are a variety of great work out venues easily accessible from town. Foremost among them, at least in my eyes, is the Incline, by far one of the most strenuous things I have ever done. Adjacent to the Incline is Barr Trail, which winds to the top of Pikes Peak and is home to both the Pikes Peak Ascent and the Pikes Peak Marathon. Winding along the southern hills through town is the Paul Intemann Memorial Trail, a great multipurpose trail that is mostly dirt and extends from the west end of town all the way into Colorado Springs. There are numerous offshoots from the trail which lead on to other great runs and hikes.
Farther to the east of town sits the Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon, both part of the same geological formation of vertical standing sandstone, and both home to great running
and hiking trails. Garden of the Gods is a great place to ride as well;
every road through the park has an accompanying bike lane.
I’m excited to see how the town evolves in the future. I would love to see more high end shops moving in, along with a bigger variety of restaurants. It would also be great if the town could develop a broader ranger of mountain biking access and more running trails. But overall, the town is definitely up and coming. The more I experience other places, the more I love coming home.