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FATMAP difficulty grade
Pikes Peak towers high above the city of Colorado Springs and the rest of the Colorado Front Range.
Known as “America’s Mountain,” this epic mountain summit rises to an elevation of 14,114 feet above sea level, making it one of Colorado’s 53 iconic 14ers. The Barr Trail drops off the mountain summit and ends in the town of Manitou Springs, elevation 6,900 feet.
That means if you choose to shuttle up to the top of Pikes Peak via the toll road, you’ll get to rip down over 7,000 vertical feet of singletrack from mountain summit to valley floor below! Be forewarned: the first stretch of singletrack descending off of the summit before it reaches treeline is only partially rideable.
Exactly how rideable it is depends entirely on your skillset, and how comfortable you are pedaling the more exposed sections of trail.
The singletrack offers up tight, rocky switchbacks, blocky talus, chunky up-and-overs, and countless ledge drops.
For most riders, it can easily take a couple of hours to descend down to treeline at ~12,000 feet.
Once down below treeline, the singletrack is still quite technical, but the obstacles are no longer quite as awkward, meaning the trail is generally rideable for advanced-level riders.
Roots begin to mix with the rocks, but you’ll still need to negotiate a series of never-ending rock gardens, drops, and other assorted gnar. After a few miles of relentless rock gardens, the singletrack begins to smooth out and straighten, allowing you to pick up speed quickly.
Finally it feels like you’re actually RIDING down a mountain! Lower down, the trail intersects with the Manitou Incline, and trail traffic picks up significantly due to hikers completing shorter loops from the bottom of the mountain.
Be aware that Pikes Peak even at the most off-peak time is an extremely popular hike, despite the cog railway that runs to the summit.
At any time of the day or night and on any day of the week you WILL encounter other trail users. Consequently, while not legally required, it’s mandatory to ride this shuttle ride during the week day when the crowds are lighter.
Avoid weekends at all costs.
Not only will you have fewer negative encounters with other trail users, but you’ll get to spend more time actually riding your bike instead of standing on the side of the trail waiting for other users to pass. On the final stretch of singletrack, the trail gets twistier and a bit more technical again, dropping into steep, banked switchbacks.
Slalom around the trail obstacles—both immobile rocks and hiking human beings—as you complete what might just be the most epic mountain bike shuttle run on the planet.