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"Terrain Hoppers" making trails more accessible to people with disabilities in El Paso County

Terrain Hopper
Posted at 6:15 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 22:26:59-04

EL PASO COUNTY — Trails and open spaces in El Paso County are now more accessible than ever to people with disabilities. The county has invested in a couple of trail mobility devices. They go by the name Terrain Hopper.

“I think this is an amazing addition to our El Paso County Parks system,” said Recreation and Cultural Services, Division Manager, Theresa Odello.

There are some people in our area who may have never been able to explore our trails and open spaces because of disabilities. The new Terrain Hoppers aim to remove barriers to trail access.

"To serve a population with physical limitations, we're so excited to be able to open our trails to a wider audience with this,” said Bear Creek Nature Center, Supervisor, Mary Jo Lewis.

There is one Terrain Hopper assigned to Bear Creek Nature Center and another one at Fountain Creek Nature Center.

"There's only one other similar program like this as of right now in the whole state,” said Odello.

It is a major investment. Each of the units is worth close to $25,000. The funding was made possible with an assist from The Independence Center and the county’s Facilities department which runs ADA programs.

Either someone from El Paso County Parks staff or a volunteer will go out with a Terrain Hopper user. "One of the challenges we're having right now is to get more volunteers,” said Odello.

The user can drive using a hand controlled throttle. The person assisting can also be in control. "If needed or if it's desired the volunteer or staff that accompanies the Terrain Hopper user will be able to walk alongside and control the vehicle remotely using the joystick,” said Lewis

The four wheel drive system is rugged, but also designed to protect the environment. Odello said, ”With the type of wheels that it has, it doesn't create a huge impact on the trail.”

Reservations are required. "It will be free,” said Odello, “We do expect it filling up.” The launch date for the public is July 26th. For more information or to make a reservation click here.

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