Hike: Red Mountain Is Hidden in Plain Sight

    Looking for alternative to the Incline? Manitou's Red Mountain offers plenty of ascending switchbacks, sweeping views at the top and a lack of crowds. Here's a guide in photos.

    pikes peak from top of red mountain
    Pikes Peak from the top of Red Mountain. Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propeller Studio.

    Red Mountain Rundown
    Length:
    About 2.5 miles out and back
    Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
    Highlight: Incline-like views without the crowds.
    Know before you go: Parking near the trailhead is the same park and pay system as the Incline. Free shuttles are available from Memorial Park.
    Insider tip: Hiking poles come in handy for the steep descent.


    Trail Guide

    There’s a hidden gem accessible from the base of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, and it’s not the Incline. It’s not even Barr Trail. Just beyond these two local and (now) tourist favorites lies the Paul Intemann Memorial Nature Trail, which leads you up 7,375-foot Red Mountain  to glorious views. It offers a similar straight-up-the-side-of-the-mountain kind of appeal as the Manitou Incline, though with switchbacks instead of stairs. The benefit is a similar view—without the crowds. My hiking buddy and I didn’t see a single person on our weekday hike up and only encountered four on the way down.

    For history buffs, Red Mountain once had its own cog railroad line, and some traces of the old buildings still remain at the top. This was also Emma Crawford’s favorite spot and the peak where she was initially buried. Chances are, you won’t have any encounters with her.

    Here are photo highlights from the trail.

    start of trail up red mountain
    Starting up the Paul Intemann Memorial Nature Trail. Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propeller Studio.

    Access the Paul Intemann Memorial Nature Trail from the Cog Railway parking lot or the Iron Springs Trailhead next to the Iron Springs Chateau Dinner Theater. A sign marks the trail.

    ruxton creek on red mountain hike
    Ruxton Creek. Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propeller Studio.

    Follow Ruxton Creek briefly.

    paul intemann memorial nature trail leads up to red mountain
    Follow the Paul Intemann Memorial Nature Trail. Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propellar Studio.

    You’ll soon reach a sign that looks like this. Veer to the right to continue on the Intemann Trail.

    trail sign red mountain
    Follow the Trail sign. Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propellar Studio.

    Go up Spring Street, a dirt road to the right, and you’ll soon see this sign marked “Trail.” Go right, and follow that trail straight up.

    red mountain views
    Views toward Red Mountain. Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propeller Studio.

    Views begin to open above the dense evergreen forest.

    view from red mountain down to manitou springs
    Looking down on Manitou. Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propeller Studio.

    A bit of scrambling is required to reach the highest point, but there are several options.

    views at top of red mountain
    Views of Pikes Peak and the Manitou Incline. Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propeller Studio.

    Red Mountain offers a lot of bang for your hiking buck. The outstanding sweeping views include Pikes Peak and the Manitou Incline, as well as Manitou and Colorado Springs. And crowds are nowhere to be found. Well worth the effort!

    sweeping view from red mountain
    Sweeping views from Red Mountain. Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propeller Studio.
    hiker and dog on red mountain summit
    Good dog! Photo by Allison Daniell, Stellar Propeller Studio.
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