June 23, 2023 – El Paso County Parks & Community Services Department unveiled the Visually Impaired Persons (VIP) Trail today during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held at Bear Creek Nature Center. The partnership with The Scott Lauther Foundation, a Bear Creek Nature Center Partner in the Park, provided funding for El Paso County to incorporate the VIP Trail section as part of the existing Songbird Trail.
“The VIP Trail is a continuation of our commitment to accessibility in action,” said Todd Marts, El Paso County Executive Director of Parks & Community Services. “The success of these programs is possible with the support and partnership with individuals and organizations in our region that share our commitment and vision.”
Visitors with visual impairments can now better interpret nature at the Bear Creek Nature Center along the VIP Trail and interactive displays inside the Nature Center. The VIP trail and accessibility components are offered to visitors at no cost. Additionally, reservations are not necessary.
“As trusted stewards of public land, we must provide access to parks, trails, and open spaces for all individuals,” said Stan VanderWerf, El Paso County Commissioner. “Adding the VIP Trail to the Bear Creek Nature Center trail system serves our community more thoroughly.”
The VIP Trail is a segment of the existing Songbird Trail. The trail section is a flat, wide boardwalk with interpretive signs along the way that interpret flora and fauna found along the trail. A braided rope guides users to interactive signs designated with a tactile rope grip, prompting the use of the Pen Friend audio device that reads the interpretive signs to the user.
The VIP trail is open to the public during park hours. However, the Pen Friends accessibility tool is only available during Bear Creek Nature Center hours, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
For more information on El Paso County Nature Centers and accessible outdoor recreation, visit www.elpasocountynaturecenters.com.