You get top-of-the-world views from the tip of Pikes Peak. Reaching the 14,115 foot summit can be done on foot, by bike, by car (19 miles on partially paved road) or railway. Although open all year (weather permitting) the gates at the base open and close at different hours so check the website first.
Riding in the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cog Railway,the highest cog railroad in the world, you get all the views that stretch over Colorado Springs to the plains beyond one way, and to a sea of mountains the other. The train, which has been operating for 125 years, chugs upward over an average grade of 12 degrees but tilts to 24 degrees at times. Make reservations ahead of time either by phone or online, because this is a popular trip.
No matter how you get to the top, head into the Summit House for lunch, or high altitude donuts and coffee.
You can walk up (or down) on the 13-mile Barr hiking trail, which leads to the summit, starts
in Manitou Springs (and yes they run an annual marathon on this trail). One company also runs bike trips from the peak to the bottom.
If you’re driving allow at least two hours, start with at least a half tank of gas and use lower gears up and down. Even in the summer take a sweater or jacket because it’s usually is much colder at the top. Don’t feed the animals and do not drink from mountain streams. (Some streams contain a nasty little bug called giardia, resulting in stomach problems.)
You have to pass through tiny Manitou Springs to reach Pikes Peak. Time your trip so you can stop and stroll along this small town’s Main St. and sample the “waters”.
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