Manitou Reservoir Trail #638 and French Creek Trail #703 combined with Barr trail (or the Incline) create a nice loop for those seeking solitude in this often crowded area.
Start by taking the standard route up the Barr trail. After about 4.5 miles you will reach a sign reading "Pikes Peak Summit 7.8 / Top of Incline 2.5". This is where you exit the Barr trail by taking the Manitou Reservoir trail to the right. The path roughly follows the contour lines for about three miles. Then it descends down to the base of Manitou Reservoir. Continue east along the North Fork French Creek. A sign will mark the Heizer trail that would take you to the town of Cascade to the north.
Once the trail turns south the terrain becomes more difficult and the trail is sometimes faint and hard to follow. You will have to cross the stream where North and South Forks of French Creek meet as they flow down to the Ute Pass. The trail continues through the Hurricane Canyon Natural Area passing behind Mount Manitou. Eventually you will reach a forest service road that will take you through the Fremont Experimental Forest with remains of several building foundations. Soon afterwards you will come back to a clearing with the sign "Pikes Peak Summit 9.5". This is the end of the loop, take the Barr trail back down to the trail head.
Distance: 14.3 miles
Directions: Exit from US-24 to Manitou Avenue and drive to downtown Manitou Springs. On the roundabout turn on to Ruxton Avenue. Drive all the way up past the Cog rail train station and turn right on Hydro St. This is the parking lot for Barr trail. The fee to park at the trailhead is $5 for 24 hours. Unfortunately it is full most of the time and you might have to park somewhere along the Ruxton Avenue. Make sure you are not parking on private property. Under no circumstances park in the Cog parking lot or you will be towed.
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