NORTH NEWTON — This year, Walk Sand Creek Trail Day at Bethel College will honor the memory of one of the driving forces behind the trail’s creation.

Walk Sand Creek Trail Day, June 1, is part of National Trails Day, sponsored by the American Hiking Society.

It’s also Jacob D. Goering Trail Day, so designated by the City of North Newton earlier this spring. Jake Goering died Jan. 12, 2019, on his 101st birthday.

“We encourage you to remember Jake as you walk the Sand Creek Trail, and ponder the possibilities of a life well lived,” said Dave Kreider of the Sand Creek Trail (SCT) Committee.

The committee will have water available for walkers and leashed dogs at the Memorial Grove trailhead from dawn until dusk (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.) June 1. At the trailhead, you can see a marker with Goering’s photo, his bootprints in cement and a brief history of his involvement with the trail.

Goering and the late Larry Voth, who was director of development at Bethel College at the time, began dreaming about developing the rough trail on the northeast corner of the Bethel campus in 1997 or 1998.

Goering got some other volunteers together to begin clearing brush and trees, and the rest is trail history.

Some of the features added since 1998 are the 10 benches along the trail and Memorial Grove (created in 2003, also part of Jake Goering’s vision), which includes concrete benches, a gazebo, a fire pit and an area of memorial bricks.

The SCT Committee maintains and improves the trail, and they organize volunteer work days throughout the year.

The trail was designated a National Recreation Trail in 2011. Since then, the SCT Committee has held Walk Sand Creek Trail Day on the first Saturday of June, National Trails Day.

The American Hiking Society’s annual event honors the national trail systems in the United States and Canada, and its supporters and volunteers, and is meant to encourage people to get outside and experience their local trails.

You can start National Trails Day on Sand Creek Trail early, with the first-Saturday bird walk. Birders should meet at 6:30 a.m. June 1 in the parking lot of Kauffman Museum, just across the street from the main Bethel campus.

Experienced local birders will lead walkers through Chisholm Park and then on Sand Creek Trail, finishing at or near the trailhead in Memorial Grove.

National Trails Day, a trademark of the American Hiking Society, is the only nationally coordinated event designed to unite all muscle-powered trail activities with the goal of connecting more people to trails.

By coordinating a wide array of trail activities on a single day, National Trails Day attracts new trail users and helps connect existing trail enthusiasts with local clubs and organizations with the hopes of creating trail advocates and stewards.

Protecting and maintaining more than 200,000 miles of trails in the United States requires the collaboration of trail clubs, organizations, government agencies and, most importantly, passionate trail advocates and stewards.

Founded in 1976, American Hiking Society is the only national, recreation-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s hiking trails, their surrounding natural areas and the hiking experience.

To learn more about American Hiking Society and its mission and programs, visit www.AmericanHiking.org.

For more about Sand Creek Trail, see www.bethelks.eduhttps://www.bethelks.edu/page/sand-creek-trail.