Distance: 10.70 miles - Soda Springs Park to UPT .69, UPT 2.60, UPT/LRR int to 3rd J pipe 2.35, J Pipe to No Name 1.21, No Name to Hydro 3.0, Hydro to SSP .85
High Point: 9,170'
Total Gain/Loss: 3,165'
No Name to Barr Camp: 3.21 miles
Hwy 24 gate to UPT/LRR int: .36
J pipe short-cut: .96 - cuts .41 of a mile and is flatter
J pipe short-cut with Incline shortcut: 1.17 miles - cuts .81 mile of a mile
Bobs Road long-cut: Bobs .79, Bobs to No Name 1.11 miles - adds 1.36 miles
High point on LRR: .34 from 3rd J pipe
Top of Ws: 1.79 from Hydro, 1.21 from No Name
By Randy Lindsey
This loop begins with the rolling Ute Pass Trail through scrub oak country, then climbs steeply along a remote pipeline road nearly to the top of Mount Manitou. It provides great views to the east, if youre not preoccupied with post holing through calf-deep snow, and takes you into country seen by few but adventurous wanderers. However it sticks to jeep roads throughout so the actual likelihood of getting lost is low, and you get to connect into the heavily traveled Barr Trail system for your return to civilization (or for more wandering).
Section 1: Ute Pass Trail (UPT)
From Soda Springs Park, run up Ruxton Avenue. Keep to the right where the road splits into one-way segments. At the start of the Cog Railway complex, turn right up a steep little road to the old Incline station.
The trail loops to the right behind a couple of modern 3-story condos and heads east. The trail continues mostly level and descending slightly into Rattlesnake Gulch.
In the gulch, the main road runs uphill toward a large gate. Usually the gate is open, but if it is closed you can bypass this gate by taking a trail about 20 meters to the right. The bypass trail rejoins the road after about 50 meters.
The road quickly deteriorates to a wide trail as it runs (walks) straight up the steep gulch. This is the part guaranteed to get your heartrate into gear.
The trail squeezes through some vertical stanchions, then deteriorates further just before it reaches a pass at the top of the gulch, next to the Manitou Springs water treatment plant.
After the water plant is a gentle downhill, followed by a steep climb to the second hill. There is a Cascade sign here and a trail up and to the left. Take the right which starts in a steep descent. Then a long, steady climb to the third hill, and then a lot more hills after that ;-)
In winter, an iceflow frequently forms on the north side of one hill. You can bypass this through the woods on the east side if needed.
Eventually, after about 6 or 7 hills (Ive lost count), you reach the junction with Longs Ranch Road (LRR).
Section 2: Longs Ranch Road (LRR)
UPT runs into LRR after a short steep climb straight ahead to the road. The more obvious right turn would take you down to the Waldo Canyon trailhead on Highway 24. As you reach the Longs Ranch Road, which is maintained for street-type vehicles, turn left (uphill).
After about 70 meters, the main road turns right. Stay left, which is really straight ahead at this fork. Continue gently uphill into deep forest. After a few hundred more meters, the road switchbacks to the left, and there youll find a large gate.
This gate is sometimes open, but usually closed. It is intended to keep out vehicles, but foot traffic swings around the gate on the left side and continues.
The road, which provides access for a Colorado Springs water pipeline, climbs up the east face of Mount Manitou heading toward the south. It is gentle at first, but fear not, real hills lie in wait!
The road steepens significantly three times, with periodic breaks in the grade for huge waterbars. It runs through a grove of Russian Olive trees, crosses a ridgeline, and continues uphill.
You will pass several large pipes on your left sticking out of the ground and curving back down in an inverted J shape. If youre in shape to count, the third of these pipes is our key landmark. If you cant count that high on endorphins, the third J pipe is at a point where the road actually levels out in an open area and you have the option of going straight or turning right. Continue straight ahead for the shorter route on a slight descent that is followed by some flat running. Next, climb up a steep 250 foot long hill that is followed by an awesome little stretch of trail. After you negotiate a series of 10 switchbacks you will come out in the middle of the Incline depot trail. Turn right to get back to the Barr Trail in .31 of a mile which will take .41 of a mile off your loop and save you about 100 feet of climbing. Turn left to head towards the top of the Incline where you can take the rather steep shortcut to the right of it along the fence back down to the Barr Trail which will save you .81 of a mile total.
However, our route and the main road makes a 90 degree right turn at the 3rd J pipe and runs west, uphill (of course). The grade moderates soon enough, and before long (.34) tops out at 9,170 feet in a forested pass between Mount Manitou and Rocky Mountain. From here its all downhill back home!
Run down the road (feels good to really run again, doesnt it?) and watch for the junction with Bobs Road. This junction is in an open area where the road slants down to the left. Bobs Road continues to the right, but we continue left, downhill.
Section 3: Experimental Forest
The road descends steeply at first and then more moderately into the old Fremont Experimental Forest. Do not confuse this with the Manitou Experimental Forest which is in Manitou Park, north of Woodland Park, a very long run from here indeed! You will pass some old building foundations which are all thats left of the US Forest Services experiments with exotic tree species in this rugged climate (all the imported trees died leaving just the ones that evolved to handle it, amazingly enough).
Section 4: Barr Trail
This road connects into Barr Trail at No Name Creek. Take a left and follow Barr Trail down to Manitou Springs.
The Barr Trail detailed description is elsewhere. It is about 4 miles from No Name down to Manitou. Once you reach Ruxton Avenue, just stay on the left side, or the sidewalk, and run on down to Soda Springs Park.
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