J. Bayard Clark Park & Nature Center

631 Sherman Drive, (910) 433-1579
Center Hours: March-Oct.: Mon.-Fri. 8 am-5 pm, Sat. 11 am-5 pm, Sun. 2-5 pm;
Nov.- Feb.: Mon.-Fri. 8 am-5 pm



Clark Park and its Nature Center join the Cape Fear River Trail (CFRT) and Moses Mathis “Bicycle Man” playground/trailhead to form a complex suited to hours of enjoyment and education. It is the city’s second largest regional park and considered a gem by visitors. It remains a natural woodland area dedicated to preserving the environment, educating the public on North Carolina plants and wildlife, and providing the only camping in the area. The Nature Center museum features displays and free viewing of live animals. Clark Park also provides exciting education and recreation programming.

Visitors can picnic overlooking the woods and one of the highest waterfalls east of the mountains. For those interested in walking or jogging, the park has its own set of unpaved trails, and also serves as a trailhead for the paved CFRT. The CFRT now has dedicated mountain biking trails, accessed near the Rivercliff subdivision at the bottom of Eastwood Avenue. Well behaved, leashed pets are welcome on trails as long you clean up after them.

Clark Park Nature Center offers programming for educators, groups, individuals and families. Programs meet  at the Nature Center unless otherwise noted. You must pre-register for all programs. Register early; space is limited in most programs. If enrollment is low, programs are canceled. 

Contact the park office at 910-433-1579 if you would like to receive a copy of our monthly newsletter with updated program information or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fcprnature.

Clark Park Trail Map




School and Group Field Trips for 20+

(For Groups of Fewer Than 20: Attend a regularly scheduled program, choose a self-guided visit, pick from a specific list of dates or attend one of our dedicated small group days. Call for availability.)

Are you looking for an interesting field trip for your group? Is teaching hands-on science in the classroom a challenge? Our Nature Center tours and life, Earth and physical science programs can correlate to DOD and North Carolina’s Essential Standards for Science. Programs can be coupled with a nature hike. Bring lunches to picnic on the grounds and playground after your program. Choose from guided hikes or popular subjects such as wetlands, animal adaptations, beaver ecology, tree identification, rocks and minerals, fossils, insects, the naval stores industry, Native American culture, or just a tour of the nature center. Custom programs are available. Offered by appointment only; Free

Standards-Correlated Programs

Geared Grades 3, 4 and 5 - Water Education

Clark Park partners with the City’s storm water educator to deliver programs that combine a tour of the nature center, and hike on the grounds in the Cape Fear River floodplain with a program segment highlighting the hydrosphere. Standards which can be covered include: 3. E. 2.1: “Compare Earth’s saltwater and freshwater features (including oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and glaciers,)” 4.L.1.3: “Explain how humans can adapt their behavior to living in changing habitats (e.g. recycling waste, establishing rain gardens, planting trees and  shrubs to prevent flooding and erosion)” or 5.P.2.1: “Explain How the Sun’s Energy Impacts the Processes  of the Water Cycle.”

In order for us to coordinate efforts, programs must be booked with Clark Park well in advance, and preference is given to groups involving all students in a grade level.

Geared Grade 8 - Water Quality (held at Lake Rim Park)

Students gain hands-on experience predicting water quality by testing for physical factors and identifying macroinvertebrates. A storm water demonstration will provide insight on the ways humans impact water quality. Call Lake Rim Park at 433-1018 for information. 

Pre-K Growing Up Wild Field Trips

Growing Up Wild is an early childhood education program that builds on a sense of wonder about nature and invites children to explore wildlife and the world around them. Activities and a craft provide an early foundation for developing positive impressions about nature and lifelong social and academic skills. Programs meet Head Start Domains and NAEYC Accreditation Criteria. Call for reservations and topics. $1/student

Environmental Mobile Unit (EMU)

For groups of 100 or more, Clark Park utilizes a twenty four foot mobile educational trailer that provides outreach for schools, community groups and events within Cumberland County. The EMU houses wildlife pelts, skulls, and reptile and amphibian models, along with other exhibits. Some restrictions apply. Reservations must be made two months in advance. $25/program in county; $50/program out of county within 25 miles; Free for Cumberland County Public Schools, Fort Bragg Schools and affiliates. 

Scout Outdoor Activities and Badge Programs

A park ranger can help scouts earn part of their Forester, Naturalist or Geologist Outdoor Activity Badges with   an after- school program that meets a portion of badge requirements. Classes can be taught at Clark, Lake Rim or Mazarick Parks. Not available on Sat.
7-12 yrs; $2/participant 

For other custom programs requested by Scouts, please attempt to join with at least one other Troop for the best chance of booking one of our busy Rangers. 

Outreach Programs 

A ranger can come to your location and lead a nature program for your class on a variety of topics. Advanced reservation required. $25/program in county; $50/program out of county within 25 miles; Free for Cumberland County Public Schools, Fort Bragg Schools and affiliates.

Programs for Adult Garden and Other Clubs

A ranger can come to your location and lead a program for your group on a variety of topics. Advanced reservation required. $25/program in county; $50/program out of county within 25 miles; Two fun topics for adult audiences which have been developed recently are:  

  • The Wild and Wonderful of the Fayetteville Area
    Are you new to the area? Do you know how to get to the Taxidermy Hall of Fame, where to find a museum of animals from the Serengeti, and the grave of the “Spaghetti Mummy?” Do you know the real facts concerning the Vampire Beast of Bladenboro, and why the Sandhills ecosystem is of worldwide significance? This region is anything but boring if you know where to look.

  • Plight of the Monarchs
    In the last 20 years, monarch butterfly populations have dropped by well over 75%. This program examines some of the latest research, and hypotheses posed to explain the decline of one of nature's most iconic creatures. 


Children’s Loblolly Garden Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE)

What ever happened to making mud pies, sorting rocks, digging, watching ladybugs and looking for four leaf  clovers? Children are losing the hands-on experience with nature that they once had. Research, including that compiled by the Natural Learning Initiative at NC State, has shown that children’s social, psychological, academic and physical health is positively impacted by daily contact with nature. Enjoy this special play area  just outside the Nature Center. Free. For more on the benefits of nature play, visit www.naturalearning.org.

Self-Guided Games and Scavenger Hunts

Guides to themed scavenger hunts and other games are often available at the Nature Center and change  periodically. Games can be completed for a small prize.
All ages; pick up game sheets in the Nature Center;  Free

Animal Feedings

Alligators chomping, snakes swallowing and turtles snapping; come see what is for dinner at the Nature Center.
All ages; Wed. and Sat. (Center is closed on Sat. during winter season Nov.-Feb.); 4-4:30 pm; Free 

Bird Appreciation Walking Group


Bring or borrow binoculars and meet other bird lovers as we walk the trails at the park and along the Cape Fear River looking for species, learning song, and collecting information about locations and behavior. Some  participants may enjoy assisting park rangers in monitoring Cumberland County’s avian residents during bird surveys. This group is for adults and mature children. Call to register.
12+; 2nd Tues. of each month; 8:15-9:30 am; Free 

Plant Appreciation Walking Group


Meet other plant lovers as we walk the trails at the park and along the Cape Fear River, identifying plants, watching their development and noting their locations. Observations will be used to compile plant lists for the Park and Cape Fear River Trail. This group is for adults and mature children. Call to register.
12+; 2nd Fri. of each month; 3-4:30 pm; Free 

Nature Story Time

You and your child are invited to Clark Park for a nature story (a few months include puppets) and craft time. Generally held on the third Tuesdays. A storyteller from the Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center reads as your child interacts with them. Call to register at 910-433-1579. 
6-under yrs. w/adult; 1-2 pm; Free.
Dec. 18: Winter Birds; Jan. 15: Coyote and Mouse Puppet Show; Feb. 19: Groundhogs

Mountain Bike Trail Work

The Cape Fear Mountain Bike Trail is officially open but in need of upkeep. From altering some of the hairy turns to bench cutting in some new trail, there is plenty of work to do. Bring water, snacks and a bike if you want to try out the day’s progress. Meet at Clark Park Nature Center. Every third Saturday of the month Nov. through Feb.
All ages; Sat.; Dec. 15, Jan. 19, Feb. 16; 8:30 am-noon; Free

Owl Hike and Marshmallow Roast

During a brief discussion, you will learn to identify different owls by their shape, size, and their calls. Then go on a silent hike through the woods listening for these amazing predators in the darkness. Conclude by warming up at the fire pit and roasting marshmallows. Pre-registration required by calling 433-1579.
All ages; Sat., Jan. 19; 6-8 pm; $2/participant

Magnificent Macaws

Come hear about the largest parrot species in the world, its family life, intelligence and the conservation challenges it faces. Do a scarlet or great green macaw craft. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Tues., Jan. 29; 1-2 pm; $1/participant 

Winter Hike

It may be chilly outside but that’s no excuse not to get out and go for a walk. Bundle up and join a park ranger on an interpretive hike as you explore the park this winter. Bring binoculars to view birds and learn about a variety of evergreen plants that bring color to the forest even in winter. Call to register.
All ages; Fri., Jan. 25; 3-4:30 pm; Free

Constellation Craft and Hike

Join a park ranger for a glowing craft on constellations and a hike to identify them. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
6+; Fri., Feb. 8; 6-7:30 pm; $3/participant 

Plants Grow Up TooClark Park 4

Spring is just around the corner so come see which plants are ready to burst for the new growing season then come back to the nature center to make your own terrarium. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Tues., Feb. 12; 4-5:30 pm; $5/participant 

Sloth Fever

Sloth fever has gripped the world. Find out about these cute and fascinating animals from a park ranger who has seen them in the wild, and do a sloth craft. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Tues., Feb. 26; 1-2 pm; $1/participant.