Dawn Hansen of Manitou Springs and Monte Hoover of Flagstaff, Ariz., walk along the new path to Rainbow Falls in Manitou Springs Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2015. The old trail was washed out in the flooding after the Waldo Canyon Fire. Hoover was visiting Hansen on his way to North Dakota. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Dawn Hansen of Manitou Springs and Monte Hoover of Flagstaff, Ariz., walk along the path to Rainbow Falls in Manitou Springs Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2015. (Christian Murdock, The Gazette)

Manitou Springs has been awarded a $100,000 grant, marking a milestone for a long-awaited trail extension that eventually will link Rainbow Falls and the Midland Trail.

With the grant from the Colorado Springs Health Foundation, city officials will have the Manitou Springs Creek Walk "shovel ready" by the end of next year. The financial boost also will clear the way for another $1.4 million from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, said Natalie Johnson, executive director of the Manitou Art Center.

Officials learned last week that the city had received the $100,000 grant for the project, which has been in the works for more than 20 years.

"Getting this grant ensures that the Creek Walk will happen," Johnson said.

Construction is likely to begin in 2018 or 2019 on the first segment, which will start at a path that dead-ends near the city's pool and fitness center and will continue west to Old Man's Trail, said Nancy Fortuin, chairwoman of the city's Open Space Advisory Committee. It eventually will reach Rainbow Falls Historic Site, off Serpentine Drive near U.S. 24.

The trail, which will run mostly along Fountain Creek, will be accessible to equestrians, pedestrians and cyclists. Officials are also considering adding signage and other features, such as benches, artwork and lighting, Fortuin said.

A parks, trails and open space master plan that Manitou Springs adopted last year identified the Creek Walk as one of the public's top priorities for recreational spaces.

The city is hiring a landscape architect to design the trail, Fortuin said.

Because the plan isn't final, the project's total cost is unknown, she said. The city might need to seek other grants for the project or fundraise in other ways.

"We simply do not know at this point how far that $1.4 million is going to take us," she said. "We're building momentum. Things are just starting to come together."

The $100,000 grant will pay to hire a project manager, complete maintenance on the pathway from Midland Trail to the aquatic center and do other pre-construction work.

The Colorado Springs Health Foundation awards grants to organizations that serve Teller and El Paso counties to improve public health. It's funded through city-owned Memorial Hospital's lease to UCHealth.

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Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108

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