MANITOU SPRINGS — In our exclusive new series Adventures with Alan, we'll travel across Southern Colorado week-by-week to show you thrills and chills, hidden gems and well-known spots.
With an estimated 70,000 visitors annually, the Manitou Incline is a popular destination for cardio-crazed locals and tourists.
It's a grueling mile-long hike that covers 2,000 vertical feet and more than 2,700 steps.
It's tall, it's steep and it's super intimidating.
"It's one of the most difficult trails that I have personally done, but definitely in the state of Colorado," said Madison Peddy.
Peddy is the Incline Park Ranger, and has done the Incline at least 200 times.
After chatting with her at the bottom of the trail, we're off to hike the Incline for my very first time.
Steps on the lower portion of the Incline are small and spaced out nice and evenly.
But it's hot, even hitting the trail at around 7:30 am.
In case you haven't heard, let me be the first to tell you that this hike is physically demanding.
We take frequent breaks throughout, which gives us a chance to gulp down some water and catch our breath.
We're in no rush! After all, this is about the experience, and the challenge of taking on the Incline.
"It's not for everyone, but it can be a lot of fun if you take your time and really pay attention to what your body is telling you," said Peddy.
We take this advice whole-hardheartedly, resting more frequently as we near some steeper sections at the mid-way point.
Not only is it steeper, but the steps are also much larger here and more unevenly spaced.
Peddy says that Olympians and marathon runners use this area as a training ground.
"It's basically like doing a a stairstep master for like an hour straight. There's sections of it that are at about 60% grade," said Peddy.
Now past the bailout to Barr Trail, we have less than a thousand steps to go.
Between here and the false summit, it's so steep in places that we catch people crawling on their hands and feet.
My legs are screaming as muscle fatigue heightens.
The last stretch is strenuous and exhausting but at last, we reach the top of the Incline's 2,768 steps.
After taking some pictures and enjoying the views, it's time to hike back down.
Traveling down the Incline isn't recommended. Instead Peddy suggests taking the Barr Trail.
The Manitou Incline is open daily from 6 am to 6 pm by reservation only.
To make your reservation, visit ColoradoSprings.gov/Incline.