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What to Eat if You’re Hiking the Manitou Incline

Aaah... the Manitou Incline. I cannot believe it has taken this long for someone to write a nutrition resource for fueling for this high-intensity workout!!! But no worries, I’ve got you covered. By the time you have read through this, you will know exactly what to eat and how to prepare yourself if you’re hiking the Manitou Springs Incline Trail!

A Bit About why I Know what the Heck I am Talking About

As a Sports Dietitian and Colorado native, I have hiked the manitou incline hundreds (almost to the thousands) of times. At my peak (prior to COVID) I was hiking this crazy thing as often as 3 times a day, multiple times per week! Talk about the importance of eating right for a workout!
It was about 10 years ago that I started taking on the Manitou Incline Hike. Believe it or not, this Sports Dietitian used to be obese! But the Manitou Springs Incline just so happened to be the sport that I fell madly in love with. Over the course of the last 10 years, I have used Mt. Manitou, and my college nutrition degree that I earned in the meantime, to teach myself how to eat for hard workouts. By also getting to know more of the so-called “Incliners” (those are the guys who do the Incline 4 times a day every day like it’s no big deal) I have also learned that there are many different diets that work for a high intensity lifestyle! Needless to say, if you are vegan, paleo, or even just love to eat junk food all the time, you CAN find the best foods to eat before hiking the Incline!!!

Manitou Incline Must-Knows

Manitou Springs is nestled just West of downtown Colorado Springs off of highway 24 (about 10 minutes away). Parking for the Incline has always been an endeavor, especially from late April through October. Luckily, you have multiple options as far as where to park.

Memorial Park, Manitou Springs

Memorial Park, Manitou Springs is probably a neighborhood park that provides a place of enjoyment for locals and tourists. These kinds of parks frequently provide amenities like playgrounds, picnic spots, sports fields, walking trails, and perhaps even special events or performances. To find out more information about the park's amenities, location, and any unique events or services it provides, I suggest consulting local resources or the park's official website.

The shuttle

Hikers can take the shuttle to get from approved parking sites to the Manitou Incline trailhead. This avoids the need to find parking near the trailhead, which can be difficult due to the popularity of the trip. Hikers who use the shuttle may concentrate on enjoying the trek rather than dealing with parking problems.

Using the phone system!!! I use it when I am about ¾ of the way down the trail to see when the next bus is coming and if I am going to make it!

Parking on Ruxton

The Manitou Incline trailhead and other attractions are close by on Ruxton Avenue, a well-liked roadway in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

Here are some broad suggestions if you're searching for information on parking on Ruxton Avenue.
  • The Street Parking - Some street parking may be available on Ruxton Avenue and the adjoining streets. Check for posted parking restrictions, time limits, and fees. Keep in mind that street parking can quickly fill up, especially during peak hours.

  • Parking Lots/Garages - There may be public parking lots or garages along Ruxton Avenue or Manitou Springs. These parking facilities may provide both paid and free parking.

  • Local Regulations - Check for any applicable parking regulations or restrictions. Some places may have unique parking rules, such as limited parking hours or the requirement of permits.

  • Parking Apps and Maps - You may look for parking near Ruxton Avenue using navigation tools like Google Maps. These apps frequently provide information about available parking facilities, including their locations and pricing.

  • Local Information - Check the official website of Manitou Springs or any tourism information sources for the area. They might provide insights into parking options and recommendations for visitors.

  • Arrive Early - If you're visiting a popular attraction like the Manitou Incline or exploring Ruxton Avenue during peak times, it's a good idea to arrive early to secure parking.

What to Eat if You’re Hiking the Manitou Incline

When hiking the Manitou Incline or engaging in any strenuous physical activity, it's essential to fuel your body properly to maintain energy levels and stay hydrated. Here are some food and hydration tips for your hike:

First (and most Importantly) Hydration! AKA NOT just water!!!


Water is essential, but for longer excursions, consider including electrolytes to your hydration routine. Electrolyte tablets or powders can help replenish essential minerals lost through sweat.

Natural electrolytes are found in coconut water, which is also a refreshing way to stay hydrated. Sports drinks can also supply electrolytes, but pay attention to how much sugar is in them. No, that beer from Manitou Brewing does not count.

Easily Digestible Carbs

Complex carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide long-lasting energy for your hike. Fresh fruits such as bananas, apples, and grapes are simple to carry and consume on the road. Trail mix with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and nut butter sandwiches on whole-grain bread has a good balance of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Energy or granola bars are easy options, but choose ones with little added sugars and chemicals.


During your hike, lean sources of protein can support muscle maintenance and repair. Protein sources that are portable include jerky and dried beef. Cups of Greek yogurt or cheese might offer some protein and fat.

Foods that are high in fat and grease can be harder to digest and might lead to discomfort during your hike. Avoid overly processed or sugary snacks that can cause energy crashes.

Pre-Hike Meal

Eat a balanced meal with complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats before starting your hike. This meal will provide a solid foundation of energy. Avoid heavy or greasy foods before the hike to prevent digestive issues.

Post-Hike Nutrition

After the hike, refuel with a balanced meal that includes protein and carbs to help with muscle recovery.
Always keep in mind that everyone's dietary needs vary, so listen to your body and figure out what works best for you. Pack a range of snacks and foods that you enjoy and that will keep you going for the duration of the hike. It's also a good idea to try out your hiking snacks on shorter hikes or exercises to ensure they're digestible and provide the essential energy boost.

Colorado Springs Manitou Incline Reservation (LINK)


This nutrition guide for the Manitou Incline hike offers essential tips from a Sports Dietitian with extensive experience. It covers parking options, stresses the importance of proper hydration, suggests easily digestible carbohydrates and lean protein for energy, and provides pre-hike and post-hike meal recommendations. The guide emphasizes individual dietary preferences and advises hikers to experiment with snacks on shorter hikes for optimal performance.

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