Manitou Reservoir / French Creek Loop

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.

Difficulty Rating:

Distance: 14.3 miles

Directions: Exit westound US-24 to Manitou Avenue and drive to downtown Manitou Springs. The trailhead is located at the top of the Ruxton Avenue. Parking fees along Ruxton are pretty steep at $5 per hour. The Barr Trail parking lot is $10 per day but fills quickly. Parking in these areas is limited to 7am-8pm. The other option is to park in town and hike up the Ruxton Avenue.

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