Barr Trail

RMFI has been working with the Cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs to conduct restoration and erosion mitigation along Barr Trail.
Volunteers carry timbers up Barr Trail for use in step construction. Photo: Stephen Toledo

BACKGROUND

The Barr Trail is the primary summit route to the top of Pikes Peak, elevation 14,115 feet. Completed in 1921, the trail starts at the western end of Manitou Springs and climbs 7,500 feet over 12.6 miles to the summit of Pikes Peak. The trail sees a tremendous amount of use from hikers, runners, backpackers, and mountain bikers. The estimated number of users per year is between 80,000 and 100,000. However, the lower portion of the trail (~3 miles) may be experiencing usage numbers 3 to 5 times higher due to the popularity of the adjacent Incline route. Most users utilizing the lower portion of the Barr Trail are ascending the Incline and then using the Barr Trail for descent to the trailhead in Manitou Springs. As a result, the lower portion of the trail is suffering from extensive erosion and trail management issues.

The unstable nature of the soils in this region and significant visitor usage on the Barr Trail make management and sustainability of this trail challenging. Soils along the Barr Trail consist of decomposed granite derived from Pikes Peak Granite. Decomposed Pikes Peak Granite is well known for being highly susceptible to erosion, creating a trail that is vulnerable to downcutting and incision. Additionally, vegetation along this trail is highly impacted due to erosion, sediment movement, and heavy visitor use.

WORK OBJECTIVES

Work along the Barr Trail is highly technical and requires trained personnel to ensure high quality, sustainable work is completed. For the past several years, RMFI has been working with project partners on trail improvement projects focused primarily on the lower 3 miles of Barr Trail and the Incline Connector Trail. Work includes trail tread improvements, erosion control and hillslope stabilization, trail assessments, public engagement, and effectiveness monitoring. 

2018 WORK FOCUS

  • Complete trail maintenance and improvements to the Incline Connector Trail and the lower 3 miles of Barr Trail. 

PROJECT PARTNERS AND FUNDERS

  • City of Colorado Springs
  • City of Manitou Springs
  • Friends of the Peak
  • Incline Friends
  • REI
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • Barr Trail Mountain Race
  • Pikes Peak Marathon, Inc