This is a long backcountry ride at altitude, with much of it in loose granite soils and rocky terrain—not to be taken lightly. Be prepared for bad weather and bad luck.
Shuttle up the Pikes Peak Toll Road to the Elk Park Trail
at 12,000ft. You'll be above timberline, and, if you shuttled, not warmed up, so take it easy on the first mile or two of trail. The first mile is easy and open, with your first challenge coming at mile 1 where the trail immediately becomes loose, much rockier, and steep. There is a nasty switchback to navigate and a long gravely rocky chute.
You're into the trees now, crossing Severy Creek at 2 miles, and continuing on along some moderately technical sidehill in the forest carpeted in pine needles with large boulders scattered here and there. You hit a meadow at 3.6 miles with great views of Pikes Peak, and a good place to regroup. Continue on and T into Barr Trail at just over 5 miles, then take a left to immediately hit Barr Camp.
Once on Barr Trail, continue descending for a quarter mile until you'll see the sign for the Mountain View Spur Trail on your right. It is mostly wide singletrack, rocky in spots, with a few short bridges over Cabin and Sheep Creeks. After only one quarter of a mile, at the bottom of a rocky descent, you'll see a rusty metal sign on your left with distances to Barr Camp and the cog station at the end of the Mountain View trail, which continues to your right. Take a left at this sign—this is the beginning of Cabin Creek Trail #671
Follow Cabin Creek Trail north, and you'll cross Cabin Creek and see a large cabin to your left. After a half mile, you'll intersect Barr Trail. Another rusty metal sign marks this junction with distances to Barr, Manitou and the summit. Once you head north from Barr Trail, you're following a still visible old trail with minor climbing and descending. After 0.5 miles from Barr, the trail becomes very faint, and the trees alongside are marked with red plastic dots. You cross a small creek at this point. At 0.9 miles, you regain the old trail at a saddle and start descending a prominent rocky trail with rock retaining walls, very similar to the Elk Park Trail
. At 1.3 miles, the trail flattens out and you'll see a sandy overlook just to your left, don't miss it, it had great views of Pikes Peak and Ute Pass.
Continuing, the trail is very narrow with a steep sidehill. At 1.6 miles, you hit an extremely steep rocky hillside, with a challenging line only vaguely visible. From there to the junction with Manitou Reservoir Trail
, it's fast and flowy, with one great, steep, optional slab rollover.
The Manitou Reservoir Trail
is smooth singletrack flowing through trees and meadows, in and out of several drainages. At the reservoir, descend on French Creek #703 until you hit the junction of the Heizer Trail
. Climb Heizer for 1200ft, you'll see the USFS Road #330 just 50 feet above you. Join the road, there's a short climb to a saddle, then downhill to the Toll Road. It's wide doubletrack—be careful of utility traffic. Descend the Toll Road to the gate.