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Sand Creek Trail is a perfect place for body and spirit. It’s good for my body to run on a soft trail. It’s good for my spirit to be in the woods, by the creek.
Sara Dick ’93

Sand Creek Trail

Sand Creek Trail is a maintained recreational trail that begins on the Bethel College campus.

Bethel College Sand Creek TrailArea residents, students and visitors are encouraged to enjoy the trail and its variety of plant, animal and bird life. The main trailhead is located at Memorial Grove, an area designed for reflection, fellowship and special events. The trail connects with Arbor Lane – a double row of trees designed to welcome visitors to the city of North Newton – as well as the biking-walking trail, nicknamed The Trail of Two Cities, that runs alongside Sand Creek through the city of Newton.

Sand Creek Trail is set in a beautiful, mostly wooded area and is open year-round.

From its trailhead at Memorial Grove to the north loop paralleling I-135, and then back to Memorial Grove via Chisholm Park in North Newton, the trail is in excess of three miles long. Nine benches are installed along the trail to allow users of the trail to rest and to enjoy the surrounding nature.

The trail hosts a variety of plant, animal and bird life. Trees include the indigenous:

  • cottonwood
  • willow
  • hackberry
  • redbud
  • black walnut

As well as species introduced over the years such as:

  • Osage orange
  • mulberry
  • locust

Resident bird species include:

  • Cooper’s hawk
  • wild turkey
  • red-bellied woodpecker
  • northern cardinal
  • American goldfinch

Summer residents are:

  • the great blue heron
  • wood duck
  • yellow-billed cuckoo
  • American robin
  • brown thrasher
  • common grackle
  • northern oriole

Winter residents include:

  • white-breasted nuthatch
  • spotted towhee
  • dark-eyed junco

As tree and groundcover have expanded, sightings of the following have become increasingly common:

  • white-tailed deer
  • beaver
  • woodchuck
  • armadillo

Memorial Grove

Memorial Grove was established at the main trailhead of Sand Creek Trail in 2003 as a place for small groups to meet around a fire for discussions or worship and also as a means to memorialize individuals, couples or groups who have had a significant relationship with Bethel College and/or the North Newton community. An engraved brick signifies that a contribution of $1,000 has been made in someone’s name. All-campus bonfires are held at Memorial Grove, a local church has its Easter sunrise service there and Memorial Grove has been the setting for at least two weddings. A gazebo complements the beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees that make this a special place for quiet reflection. Near Memorial Grove is the 11-foot tall sculpture “The Plainsman,” carved out of the stump of a Siberian elm by North Newton sculptor John Gaeddert.

To purchase a brick, contact Fred Goering in the Office of Development at (316) 284-5226 or by e-mail. To reserve Memorial Grove for an event, contact Ben Jones at (316) 284-5878 or by e-mail.

Arbor Lane

In spring 2006, 54 trees of 18 different species were planted along the portion of Sand Creek Trail that runs along Highway 15. Each tree is to be identified by a marker containing the tree’s common and Latin names. As the trees grow, Arbor Lane will not only beautify the trail and the approach to town but also benefit the environment.

Other Access Points

The trail has several other access points throughout Newton and North Newton. The Trail of Two Cities runs alongside Sand Creek through Newton between First Street and Centennial Park, and from Centennial Park to the Sand Creek Trail trailhead at Memorial Grove.

Hours

Hours for Sand Creek Trail are sunrise to sunset. Memorial Grove hours are flexible. Memorial Grove may be reserved for small groups by calling (316) 284-5878 or e-mailing Ben Jones.

Rules

Your help is needed in maintaining a facility that can be enjoyed by the entire community.

  • Treat the vegetation, signage and physical infrastructure with respect.
  • Use the trail on a pack it in, pack it out basis, leaving nothing other than your footprints. If you see litter, please pick it up.
  • Pets are welcome, but please keep all pets on leashes and dispose of all pet waste.
  • Use mountain bikes in a responsible, non-destructive manner. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
  • Do not use firearms of any type on or near the trail.

Volunteer opportunities

To volunteer for work on the trail, you can email Richard Rempel at rrempel@bethelks.edu. To get your email on a list (Friends of the Trail) to be notified of trail work days or other trail events, email Fred Goering at fgoering@bethelks.edu.