Hiking Bob: City, USFS announce Barr Trail detour at Pikes Peak Summit 

Pikes Peak - America's Mountain announced on May 15, 2020, that the U.S. Forest Service approved a detour for Barr Trail hikers to the summit of Pikes Peak, effective from May 16 to July 31, 2020, according to a news release from the City of Colorado Springs. Access to the top of Pikes Peak from Barr Trail will be cut off mere feet from the summit due to construction of the new summit house.
click to enlarge Alternate route to the summit
  • Alternate route to the summit

The temporary detour will route hikers down along the Cog Railway to the 19-mile marker, and then over to the Pikes Peak Highway, where hikers will then have to walk along the highway to the summit. The detour adds approximately a mile to the usual 12-mile, one-way hike up Barr Trail from Manitou Springs. The news release advised that "hikers should exercise extreme caution while hiking on the shoulder of the highway due to vehicular traffic, and, as always, be prepared for quickly changing weather conditions."

click to enlarge COTREX map, showing the detour to be just under one mile - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • COTREX map, showing the detour to be just under one mile

Barr Trail hikers face other challenges in their quest to the summit, besides the long and arduous nature of the hike. Barr Camp, the usual rest stop about halfway to the summit is closed until further notice and once at the summit, hikers will either need to hike the 12 miles back down, or have a ride down ready to pick them up. That may not always be viable, since "All visitors and guests should also be aware that the summit may not be accessible to personal vehicles depending on weather and construction activity", said the news release, which encouraged people to call 719-385-7784 for current road and weather conditions. 

Nick Merchant, owner of Rocky Mountain Ride, a popular shuttle service for Barr Trail hikers said in an interview that COVID-19 safety restrictions have caused them to suspend service for the foreseeable future, however he hopes to have their shuttles running by June.  Hikers should not expect to utilize Pikes Peak Rangers for shuttle rides down, as "Pikes Peak staff will only transport as a matter of emergency or safety. Payment due at time of transport," according to the city's website. Fees for rides by Pikes Peak Rangers can be very expensive, too.

Hikers wanting to summit Pikes Peak can also hike up the west side of Pikes Peak via the Crags Trail (664) and the Devils Playground Trail (753). While a little bit shorter, these routes are no less difficult than hiking up Barr Trail. Although construction of a new Devil's Playground Trail will be in progress during the summer, it won't interfere with the use of the current trail according to Jennifer Peterson, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, which is leading the trail construction project.

Be Good. Do Good Things. Be Safe.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.


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