Getting Fit

So how does one go about getting physically prepared to hike the Barr Trail? Well it's not as difficult as you may think. The Barr Trail averages only an 11% grade. While this would be steep for a city sidewalk, as far as mountain trails go it's not too challenging. The trail is also well maintained so the only skill involved is walking.

However, though the trail may be relatively easy to walk it is very long and gains a lot of elevation. No other mountain in Colorado can you gain so much elevation from such a relatively close trailhead. Endurance and acclimatization are the key to climbing Pikes Peak. See the altitude page for helpful hints on getting acclimated, on this page we'll focus on physical training.

Build Your Endurance

"Alpinism is the art of suffering"
- Wojciech "Voytek" Kurtyka

For your endurance you simply need to push yourself physically for long periods of time. 20 to 30 minute workouts do not develop your slow twitch muscles. Slow twitch are the muscles that you will need for the hike. Try to engage in some physical activity (elliptical, jogging, biking, or at least walking) for 40 minutes or more without breaks. This will build up your endurance. During endurance training it helps to learn to push on and continue even when it hurts and you don't feel like continuing. The best way to finish the Barr Trail is not to hike quickly, but to be able to hike at a steady pace that you are able to maintain for long periods without breaks.

Prepare for Hills

Almost the entire trip to the summit is uphill. If you don't have access to hills then adapt your workout to help. If you use an elliptical machine or treadmill try to find one that you can raise the slope, if you walk try jogging instead. Training on a slope will prepare the right muscles for your trip up the Barr Trail. I find that jogging 4 to 6 miles over hilly terrain a few times a week will prepare you well for the trail. You don't have to start there, but work your way up to it.

Lose Weight

Lots of people talk about carrying less weight in their packs, buying lighter shoes, and going ultralight. The first, and cheapest, way to lighten the load for your trip is to shed some body fat. Some of you don't have much to loose, but most of us do. Obviously this has other benefits as well. Take 10 pounds off and that's 10 pounds you won't have to haul up 7,500 feet.

Rest before the Hike

3 to 6 days before you attempt the Barr Trail, stop working out. Let your body store up reserves and heal your muscles. Eat healthy foods and drink lots of fluids. The day before the hike eat plenty of calories but don't gorge. Just before hitting the trail eat a good meal.

The better shape you are in the better your hike will go. However, the key to finishing though is pushing on even when you feel like you don't have anything left to give.