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Barr Trail

View of Pikes Peak in the Distance Barr Trail runs 12.6 miles from a trailhead off Hydro Street in Manitou Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak. The trail climbs 7,300' in elevation during that distance. Due to this epic increase in altitude, the greatest of any trail in Colorado, the trail begins in one ecosystem--pine forest--and at the 10-mile point, known as "tree line," transitions to arctic tundra. Pine trees can't grow above tree line. Instead you'll see mosses, lichens, and wildflowers none of which grow to more than an inch or two tall. The extreme conditions on Barr trail make it a challenge even for runners who train on it regularly.

Because two famous trail races--the Pikes Peak Marathon and the Barr Trail Mounain Race--both use Barr Trail, much has already been written about it from a trail runner's perspective. For a stride-by-stride description of Barr Trail, including a detailed strategy for racing on the trail, see Matt Carpenter's online entry for the trail. The Pikes Peak Marathon web page also provides details about the trail, and what you need to do to prepare for it.

Seven miles up the trail you'll find Barr Camp, where you will likely be greeted by either Neal or Teresa Taylor. Check with them about weather conditions at the summit and any recent bear sitings. You can also rent a filter from them to replenish your water, and light snacks are available. If you continue up the trail another six miles to the summit, Summit House has more substantial snack-bar food service. You likely will feel you've earned a couple of the fresh, greasy donuts.

When you get off Barr Trail, Manitou Springs provides many cafes and restaurants that welcome runners and hikers, no matter how dusty and smelly. To hang on to the healthful benefit of your run, consider Adam's Mountain Cafe at 634 Manitou Avenue.  They have a great vegetarian menu, and beer and wine.

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