Sand Creek Trail is a National Recreation Trail that begins on the Bethel College campus.
Area 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 the paved path through Chisholm Park in North Newton and 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, the trail is in excess of two 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. More than 40 varieties of trees include these indigenous species:
- black walnut
as well as species introduced over the years such as:
- Osage orange
- Kentucky coffee tree
Resident bird species include:
- Cooper’s hawk
- wild turkey
- red-bellied woodpecker
- northern cardinal
- American goldfinch
Summer residents are:
- great blue heron
- wood duck
- yellow-billed cuckoo
- American robin
- brown thrasher
- common grackle
- Baltimore oriole
- Mississippi kite
Winter residents include:
- white-breasted nuthatch
- spotted towhee
- dark-eyed junco
- Eastern bluebird
As tree and groundcover have expanded, sightings of the following have become increasingly common:
- white-tailed deer
- Great Plains skink
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 Kansas Highway 15 between it and the Bethel College cross-country course. Arbor Lane is a double row of trees designed to welcome visitors to the city of North Newton.
National Trails Day®
Along with other National Recreation Trails across North America, Sand Creek Trail marks National Trails Day® on the first Saturday in June each year. Members of the Sand Creek Trail Committee are stationed at the Memorial Grove trailhead on that day from early morning to early evening to give out water to people and dogs who come to walk the trail, and to answer any questions.
Other Access Points
The trail has two other access points in Newton and North Newton. A paved biking and walking path 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. A wood-chip path connects Sand Creek Trail and the paved path in Chisholm Park (north of Kauffman Museum) at the MCC-Central States building (requires crossing Kansas Highway 15).
Hours for Sand Creek Trail are sunrise to sunset. Memorial Grove hours are flexible. Memorial Grove may be reserved for small groups by contacting Shirley Dietzel.
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.
- “Pack it in, pack it out.” Leave only your footprints. If you see litter, please pick it up. There are trash cans at Memorial Grove and at two other locations along the trail.
- Pets are welcome, but please keep all pets on leashes and dispose of all pet waste.
- Use mountain bikes responsibly and non-destructively. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
- Firearms of any type are prohibited on or near the trail.
- Bethel College is a non-smoking campus except for one designated area outside the residence halls. Smoking on Sand Creek Trail is strongly discouraged, especially in dry seasons. Do not discard cigarette butts along the trail.