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453 Barr Trail - Part 1 2011-08-07

Barr Trail Trailhead

As soon as we returned to the Grays Peak Trailhead, we organized the car and headed toward Pikes Peak. We had decided to camp near Woodland Park at a National Forest campground, South Meadows. The campground has big open sites and seems well used but perhaps more often by the RVers rather than tent campers. The sites were big enough for us to set out and dry our gear that remained wet from the previous day's storms.

It rained again that evening, naturally.

The next day we had reservations for Barr Camp. Barr Camp is a cabin, bunkhouse, lean-tos, camping sites, and meals for those who are traveling along the Barr Trail (Barr Camp is a fee area.) The comforts help tame the 13 mile trip to the summit of Pikes Peak. We were going to stay in a lean-to, as were our friends Jon and Laura.

As soon as we awoke Thursday morning, we began to re-dry gear and pack for the Barr Trail. We arrived at the trailhead in Manitou Springs at around 11:30. It was blazing hot.


The lower Barr Trail


Amy and I had previously hiked the Barr Trail with our dog, Jake. We knew about the lower slopes of the trail. Even though the trail is one of the best I have ever walked, the first three miles are hot and in places steep. We were not excited about hiking in the heat of the day but there was no use complaining. We shouldered our packs and started up the hill.

Luckily there is shade along the way but soon the heat even begins to rule the shade. It is a hard mid-day hike. Of course we are joined by lots of Colorado Spring-ers who have climbed the Incline and run down the trail in the heat of the day.


Finally, in the trees after 4 miles or so


After the three mile mark, the trail eases and goes near a creek. The water from the creek, like almost all other creek waters, would need to be filtered but it was a good source.

After climbing another open slope the trail finally enters the woods. For the last couple of miles to Barr Camp the trail is easy and mostly shaded.


Barr Main Cabin


On arriving at camp, Teresa, one of the caretakers, told us about the camp and our accommodations. Dinner was at 6. We weren't late or disappointed. With all of the hikers crowded into the main cabin, Teresa called out that dinner was ready. Soon a line formed to pile spaghetti and sauce on their plates. She also made a great pan bread that was hard to beat no matter where you ate it. The meal was worth the money and it certainly was tastier than Mountain House!


the lean-tos


We returned to our lean-tos for an early evening. The next day we would climb Pikes Peak and it would be a big day.

A few Barr Trail notes ...

The trailhead had restrooms and water.

Parking was changing from free to a fee on the day we were there. We were able to park for free because the meter was not yet working.

When we returned to the lot, even with the pay to park in place, people were in line to take our spot.

The trail is truly amazing. Fred Barr made a sustainable trail when he built it almost a hundred years ago! (built from 1914 to 1918)

The first three miles of the trail can be hot and difficult. The problem is that even though you are starting to climb the mountain, you still have the Colorado Springs climate until you reach Barr Camp. If it is 98 in Colorado Springs, then it is probably 96 at the trailhead! Ouch! An early morning or late afternoon hike is probably the best times to hike the trail. Just bring water and dress for the heat.

I climbed Pikes via Barr once in the fall; it was wonderful. It is still 26 miles round-trip, but the temperatures were more enjoyable.

Barr Trail was probably one of the friendliest trails I have ever hiked. Everyone said hello. It was a good experience.

Happy Pikes Peak, Barr trails, part 1.


Barr Trail - part 2


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