Sunday, October 9, 2011


Over 35 people gathered on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to build a trail and picnic pad at Rainbow Falls, just west of Manitou Springs. This project is part of many improvements underway at this new El Paso County, Colorado, park and the trail.

Martin Rendleman, 15, led the effort this day as part of his requirement to earn the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts of America. Rendleman worked closely with the El Paso County Parks Department, the Manitou Environmental Citizens Action (MECA) Board, the Rainbow Falls Coordinating Committee and Commissioner Sallie Clark to develop the plan for the trail and picnic pad. He then raised over $1,000 in cash and $2,000 of in-kind donations and borrowed equipment to use for the project. C & C Sand, Bestway Disposal and TurfMasters provided discounts or donated items to assist with the Eagle Scout project. The County Parks Department staff is also credited with a tremendous effort in rough cutting the trail and preparing the site for the small army of volunteers who arrived to help on a sunny afternoon.

Members of Boy Scout Troops 268 and 366, the Air Force Academy Jr. ROTC, Colorado Springs Downtown Rotary and many friends came together on Saturday to dig, move rocks, and pound in rebar to build the approximately 80 ft. trail and level the area for the picnic pad. They also assembled and installed a picnic table that was provided by a grant to the County Parks Department.

The Rainbow Falls recreation area has been well known since before the turn of the century when visitors would gather and picnic at the base of the falls on their way up the original Ute Pass road to the west. The area was privately held until recently when it was donated to El Paso County, thanks to many years of persistence from El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, the MECA board and its founder L'aura Montgomery. Since then, there have been many improvements to the park, including new trails, picnic tables and an expanded parking lot. While Rainbow Falls used to be known as Graffiti Falls, there has been a major effort to restore not only its original name, but to clean up the falls by discouraging graffiti tagging on the rock outcroppings and natural features. The ongoing efforts to restore the falls to their original beauty includes a comprehensive master plan involving community policing and enforcement as well as additional trails, stormwater and erosion improvements.

Many of those who came to help on Saturday had never seen the Falls before and were struck by the beauty and potential of the park. They also enjoyed getting their feet wet by wading in the stream. Most said they planned to come back and enjoy the park, now that they know it's here to enjoy. To see more about the project, there is a short YouTube video at . For more information about Rainbow Falls or how you can help improve and preserve this special park, go to the MECA website at To reach Rainbow Falls, take Highway 24 west to the stoplight at the Cave of Winds exit, turning south onto Serpentine. At the curve, you will see the parking area.