Sand Creek Trail
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 and black walnut, as well as species introduced over the years such as Osage orange, mulberry and locust. Resident bird species include Cooper’s hawk, wild turkey, red-bellied woodpecker, northern cardinal and American goldfinch. Summer residents are the great blue heron, wood duck, yellow-billed cuckoo, American robin, brown thrasher, common grackle and northern oriole. Winter residents include the white-breasted nuthatch, spotted towhee and dark-eyed junco. As tree and groundcover have expanded, white-tailed deer, beaver and woodchuck have become increasingly common, with increasing armadillo sightings as well.
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.
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.