Pikes Peak Standard Route Guide
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 one and a half miles of elevation gain. I recommend doing this in two days with an overnight rest at Barr Camp. Here’s more info in my Pikes Peak Standard Route Guide.
Pikes Peak Fast Facts
Pikes Peak Standard Route Guide
The Barr Trail is long but well-maintained and signed. You should expect easy route-finding and good conditions for the majority of the route. Once parked, set off for the Barr Trail. Optionally you can use the Manitou Incline to begin the hike, as it meets up with the Barr Trail towards the top.
After a time, you’ll pass the Manitou Incline around 7,800 feet. If you took that optional route to start, make sure you divert left to join the Barr Trail. Around 2.75 miles from the trailhead you’ll come to a fun rock arch that stands over the trail – go ahead and sneak through it.
A bit beyond this rock you’ll pass several overlooks that provide a great view of Pikes Peak. As you can see from the picture, you’re still a long ways from the peak, with several thousand feet of elevation gain to go.
After 6 miles of hiking you will finally pass Barr Camp. There are numerous campsites available here if you’d like to spend the night (highly recommended if you’re a beginner). Tree-line is just a bit further up the trail from here. There are also cabins you can rent but this must be arranged ahead of time and fills fast.
As you finally reach tree line near 12,100 feet the remaining route comes into view. While the trail is in good condition, it can be hard to see from where you are. Get ready for 2,000 feet of elevation gain to go to reach the sumit!
The trail above tree line is rugged so make sure you take your time. You’ll pass several metal signs, like this one alerting you to the presence of a several thousand foot dropoff just beyond it. Worth a rest to enjoy the view here!
The 16 Golden Stairs are really just a series of gruelling switchbacks up the eastern face of Pikes Peak. If you’ve gotten this far, you can push through to the summit from here. Just don’t try to count the switchbacks, it won’t make things easier.
As you approach the top, the Summit House will come into view. Pikes Peak is the only 14er with a permanent structure on the summit. In fact, it offers doughnuts and coffee – a well earned treat after all your hard work.
I hope you enjoyed my Pikes Peak Standard Route Guide. Did I leave out anything you think is important? Have your own story or experience to share? Share a comment below with the Next Summit community!
Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
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About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.