Additional Details About The Pike's Peak Cog Railroad

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The Pike's Peak Cog Railroad offers a thrilling trip to the top of Pike's Peak, which is the world's next most visited mountain following Mount Fuji in Japan. Pike's Peak is the thirty first highest mountain in Colorado, yet unique since nothing obstructs the view from the top. The trip commences in Manitou Springs (altitude 6,571 ft) and travels the nine miles to the summit of Pike's Peak (altitude 14, 110 feet). The round trip requires roughly 3 hours with a 30-40 minutes stop on the top and the cog railroad is open year round but might occasionally just climb part of the route when the weather is poor. 

A cog railway operates in a different way compared with a standard railroad. It uses a special track which has a rack in the middle and cog trains have a cog at the middle that meshes with the rack. It assists the train to climb steep angles. The traditional railroad could just handle an angle of four to six degrees but the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad makes use of the Abt system, which can handle gradients of 25 degrees. Some sections of the tour include gradients at a maximum of 25 degrees but the usual for the whole tour is around 16 degrees.

As the train departs the Manitou Springs station, you will notice the steep gradient, where the front of the train would usually be four stories higher than the back-end. The trip starts through dense pine and spruce forests and there are several waterfalls, notably the Minnehaha Falls. The next part of the tour isn't as steep and you'll catch a glimpse of mule deer grazing in the fields. At about the middle mark, you could look forward to get your first look of Pike's Peak. After this, the climb begins to be very steep and the scenery gets really confusing as you go up over the tree line. The terrain is rock-strewn and inhospitable and, in case you are fortunate, you may be able to spot yellow-bellied marmots and bighorn sheep.

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When you reach the top, you'll have thirty to forty minutes at the peak before your return trip. Watch out when you are exiting as the air is much thinner at such a height and you must have time to get used to it. Go around slowly until your body has gotten used to it and benefit from the spectacular views. To the east, you could possibly see Kansas as well as the Garden of the Gods rising over Colorado Springs. Depending on the weather and the amount of smog, you could possibly make out the buildings of Denver toward the north.

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