National Recreation Trails Database


Trail Description Continued

History: Sand Creek Trail was proposed by Jacob Goering and Larry Voth in 1997 and constructed in 1998, improving and extending an old trail connecting Bethel College and Sand Creek. This portion of Sand Creek is the site of ancient Native American campgrounds, and artifacts were discovered along the creek by Waldo Wedel and Emil Haury as boys, leading to careers as well-known archeologists. The trail site also sits astride the Chisholm Trail, and tracks from the trail may be seen at the adjacent Chisholm Park in North Newton.

Management: The trail is owned and maintained by Bethel College, and a Sand Creek Trail Committee, made up of college and community representatives, is responsible for the oversight of maintenance, improvement and publicity of the trail. The committee employs a part-time Trailkeeper, and uses Bethel students and North Newton community members for additional maintenance on regular workdays at the trail, mainly spreading wood chips and clearing invasive shrubs. In addition, both the Bethel College Maintenance Department and the City of North Newton provide additional services to keep the trail in top condition. A kiosk at the trailhead features a trail map, trail rules, and changing photos and other exhibits, and directional signs are placed along the trail as well as tree and shrub identification signs. New trailhead interpretive signage is in process.

Natural features: Trees along the trail include cottonwood, Osage orange, hackberry, willow, black walnut, green ash, honey locust, Siberian elm, Kentucky coffee trees, bur oaks, redbuds, red cedars, black walnuts, redbuds, pines, and white and red mulberries. Shrubs include currants, wild plums, coral berries, chokecherries, river grapes and Tatarian honeysuckles. Mammals sighted on or near the trail include white-tailed deer, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, woodchucks, skunks, raccoons, possums, squirrels and rabbits. Reptiles sighted on or near the trail include a variety of snakes, frogs, and turtles. Resident bird species include Cooper's hawk, wild turkey, red-bellied woodpecker, northern cardinal, and American goldfinch. Summer residents include 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.

Constructed features: Ten benches are installed along the trail to allow users of the trail to rest and to enjoy the surrounding nature. There are several minimally maintained dirt side trails on both sides of Sand Creek that connect with the Sand Creek Trail and can be explored by users. The Memorial Grove is a small park at the trailhead, established in 2003, with a semi-formal design of sidewalks and a fire pit, along with a variety of plantings of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses. It is used by community groups for a variety of events, including an annual North Newton watermelon feed. 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. Arbor Lane is a double row of 54 trees of 18 species planted in 2006. Elements of an adventure course were constructed in 2010 near the first portion of the trail. Sand Creek Trail also intersects with the “Trail of Two Cities,” a 10' wide concrete biking/walking path that connects the cities of Newton and North Newton.


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This website provides access to the National Recreation Trail (NRT) database, a collection of information on the various trails which have been designated as NRT's. These trails are located throughout the United States and U.S. territories. The amount of information may vary from trail to trail. If you need more information than is available on this site, please use the contact(s) listed for that trail. (If no contacts, are listed, you may request help from American Trails at

The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails: