Due to my extended stay in Manitou I have been able to do a more extensive reconnaissance of the trails in the area. For the most part I have known about, or heard about, most of the trails around town, but with the advent of more time on my hands (translation: jobless) I have been able to explore more of the area. The Incline to Barr Camp run was the result of three things: 1) a desire to revisit Barr Camp after my last visit a decade ago 2) an attempt to experience the Colorado fall and 3) a need to do some high altitude running to prepare for the Golden Leaf. I had the last reason on my mind the most when I started exploring the run, but that quickly gave way to enjoying the incredible scenery provided by the mountains and the aspen groves running through them. For some reason, when the run is gorgeous, like Eagle Creek or this one, it makes running for long periods of time so much easier. For this reason, I think I would be obese if I had to move to the Midwest.
I started the run by doing the Incline first. I wanted to do this to bypass the series of steep switchbacks that typify the beginning of Barr Trail and to get to 8600 feet or so as quickly as possible. From the top of the Incline, there is an access trail to the upper portion of Barr Trail. You can find it by walking straight, as if the Incline continued, until you reach a trail that angles up (there are some logs stacked next to the beginning of it). Do not confuse this trail with the one that angles slightly down, in the same general area. The downward trail dead ends into some impassable fencing. Once you are on the access trail, it is about a 1/2 mile to the intersection with Barr Trail.
From the intersection with the trail, the run heads up Barr Trail toward Barr Camp, gaining about 2,000 feet in elevation over 4 miles. The climbing is mostly gradual, winding through meadows and forest area until it reaches Barr Camp, located at 10, 200 feet. There are numerous vista points along the run that are home to some incredible views. Pikes Peak is almost always in front of you as you run, and the before mentioned aspens pocket the area. There are points where you actually run through aspen meadows, with the leaves forming a carpet on the trail. Pretty awesome.
From Barr Camp I simply turned around and headed back down the trail, all the way to the bottom (no desire to explode my knees trying to do the Incline in reverse). The whole thing took me 2 to 2.5 hours. I would bring some food and water, as there are not any freshwater sources that are drinkable on the run. Barr Camp, when it is open, sells food if you want to bring cash instead.
Overall I would say that this is one of my favorite runs in the area. It is a bit long, so perhaps best to do it during the weekend. The trail was not too crowded, but that changes during the weekends. The temperature at Barr Camp is usually about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the town temp, so dress accordingly. Something else to thing about: Mountain lion attacks. I have an irrational fear of being mauled by a mountain lion whenever I run in this town. Although, wouldn’t it be awesome if a mountain lion tried to maul you and you killed it and then used its teeth to make a necklace that you wore to the bars to impress the ladies? That would be the ultimate.