New Hope Creek Corridor Advisory Committee


Sandy Creek from New Hope Creek to Duke University
(Component 3 of New Hope Corridor Open Space Master Plan)

Click to enlarge.

Description and Special Features

This component of New Hope Creek features the lovely Sandy Creek Park, which hosts the annual Bird & Butterfly Festival during Durham Creek Week in March. Visit Friends of Sandy Creek for the latest photos and updates on events at the park, or to make a tax-deductible, online donation to Sandy Creek construction and programs.

A 0.7-mile biking and walking trail runs along Sandy Creek from Pickett Road to Sandy Creek Park at the end of Sandy Creek Road (parallel to 15/501). The trail and surrounding wetlands are teeming with wildlife. Geese, ducks, herons, hawks, bluebirds, owls, woodpeckers, deer, beavers, turtles, and water snakes have all been spotted along this short trail. A wildlife observation platform has been erected overlooking a pond.

To see where the park is located, look for the solid purple line on the Sandy Creek map.

On Saturday, March 19, 2011, we held our first Bird and Butterfly Festival and Sandy Creek cleanup as part of Durham Creek Week. The second annual festival was held on March 17 and 24, 2012 and the third on March 23, 2013. Click here to read more and see photos from past festivals.

On October 6, 2012, we held a fall celebration at Sandy Creek Park including a ceremony to officially name the new bridge in memory of New Hope Creek preservation pioneer Ken Coulter, a noted landscape architect who wrote the New Hope Creek Corridor Plan and the plan for Sandy Creek Park. Read the resolution regarding the bridge-naming.

In November 2010, Sandy Creek Park was named a birding "hotspot" by Click here for more information and here for a list of bird species that have been seen in Sandy Creek Park. The website of the Carolina Bird Club also has a page on the Sandy Creek Trail. Nate Swick, creator of the blog The Drinking Bird, writes about a trip to Sandy Creek Park in a post titled The other side of birding with baby.

Jeffrey Pippen has provided information for those looking for butterflies at Sandy Creek Park.

The trail has been adopted by the Durham Academy. Students and teachers at the Academy hold regular work days on the trail. Here are photos of some of the trail workers.


In the News

Links to news stories about Sandy Creek:

    Text from 1991 New Hope Corridor Open Space Master Plan

    Existing Land Use & Ownership

    • South of Chapel Hill-Durham Boulevard: privately owned multifamily units and commercial establishments
    • North of Chapel Hill-Durham Boulevard: privately owned single-family and multifamily residences; land owned by the City of Durham (former sewer plant), Cresset Academy, Durham Academy
    • East of US 15-501 bypass and north of Cornwallis: Duke University (golf course, West Campus)

    Future Land Use

    The corridor along Sandy Creek, much like Mud Creek, appears to be developed to about its maximum potential, given existing land use controls. The largest pieces of open space land exist at the former city sewer plant site, the Duke University golf course, and the large parcel of city-owned land between the abandoned sewer plant and Garrett Road.

    Significant Resources

    Sandy Creek is a small urban stream, arising in the Duke University campus area, flowing along the Duke golf course. On the west side of the US 15-501 bypass, it passes through several residential areas and beside two school properties. Just north of Chapel Hill-Durham Boulevard is an abandoned city-owned former sewage treatment plant. The former treatment plant offers the opportunity for developing a major city park, which is needed in this area of the city. This park can provide both active recreation and trails linking schools, residential areas, a shopping center, and the main New Hope Creek trail. An existing nature trail along an abandoned sewer line is another attractive feature.

    It is from the urban character of this stream that its best use is determined. Besides preserving the floodplain in natural vegetation, this is an ideal location for a trail serving for both recreation and alternative transportation. Together, the Mud Creek corridor (component 7) and the Sandy Creek corridor provide the opportunity for a loop trail. Sandy Creek is indicated as a greenway trail on the Durham Urban Trails and Greenways (DOST) Master Plan.


    Recommendations for Protection & Use

    • Establish a bike and pedestrian trail from New Hope Creek to the vicinity of Duke Univeristy West Campus. This trail should begin just north of Chapel Hill-Durham Boulevard, follow an easement along the boulevard property line of Oak Creek Village shopping center and across Garrett Road. It would proceed eastward along the service road to Sandy Creek, then across the city-owned land, which should be designated as open space and recreational land. (An alternative route for the trail would be from Mud Creek through Garrett Farms, across Garrett Road by Cresset School to city-owned land on Sandy Creek.) The trail then should proceed north across Pickett Road, behind the residential areas of Colony Hill and Colony Park, and then to Cornwallis Road. Between the US 15-501 bypass and the golf course, the trail could either follow the edge of the highway right-of-way or link into a pathway that has been established beside the golf course. At NC 751, the trail would arrive at the entrance to Duke University described under component 9.
    • Protect the entire 100-year floodplain.
    • Improve the existing nature trail east of the main trail.