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.




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 Saturdays.
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 

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.
All Ages; Sat.; Feb., 17, Mar. 17 and May 19; 8:30 am-noon; Free

Nature Story Time

You and your child are invited to Clark Park for a nature story and craft time with a different theme each month (generally on the third Tues.) A storyteller from the Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center reads as your child interacts with them. Call to register.
6-under yrs w/adult; Tues.; 1-2 pm; Free
Feb. 20: Groundhogs; March 20: Dinosaurs; April 17: Earth Day; May 15: Lizards; June 19: Planets; July 17: Sea Turtles; August 21: Fireflies

Wildflower Walk: Spring Ephemerals

After the cold, short days of winter, wildflowers burst forth from the earth in the Cape Fear River Valley. These beautiful, delicate, and often short-lived blooms are known as spring ephemerals (meaning their blooming period and life cycle are short). Take a guided walk through the woods as you search for these seasonal species. Call to register.
All ages; Fri., March 30; 4-5:30 pm; Free

Nature Detectives

Join a park ranger as we look around the park for animal clues and pieces of a story. This hands-on interactive program is followed by a craft. Call to register.
3-7 yrs w/adult; Tues., April 10; 4:30-5:30 pm; $1/participant (cash only)

Beginning Archery Class

Participants will use compound bows to learn the basics of archery. Safety, proper stance and follow through will be taught. You will be hitting the bulls-eye in no time! Adults welcome. Call to register, space is limited.
8+; Sat., April 14; 9:30-12:30 pm; $5/participant

Story Hunt

Follow the nature trail to look for the missing pages from a book and piece together the story. This is a fun way for children to enjoy a story and the park at the same time! Call to register, space is limited. 
6-under yrs; Wed., April 18; 10-11 am; Free

Frog Hike and Marshmallow Roast

Learn to identify different species of frogs found at Clark Park and then go on a short hike to look for them. Frogs will sing to us as we finish the night with a marshmallow roast! Space is limited, pre-registration is required.
All ages; Fri., April 27; 7:30-9 pm; $2/person (cash only)

Campfire Program

Gather around the campfire for an evening of s’mores or banana boats, storytelling, skits, songs and games. Fun for the whole family! Dress for the outdoors. Bring water and a flashlight. Look for directional signs that lead to the campground. Promptness is essential. Space is limited, pre-registration is required.
All ages; Fri., May 4; 7:30-9:00 pm; $5/person (cash only)

Family Fun Campout

Enjoy a campout with a survival theme. Learn how to make fire and rope and play some games along the way. Bring camping gear, water and food for dinner Friday and Saturday’s breakfast and lunch. Registration is required.
All ages, 17-under must be accompanied by an adult; starts Fri., May 11 at 6 pm and ends Sat., May 12 at 2 pm; $5/person

Edible and Medicinal Plants

Before the age of modern medicine, people had to know how to use different plants to treat their ailments. Native plants also served as a source of food for those who knew how to properly collect and prepare them. Learn about the edible and medicinal plants of N.C. on this ranger-led hike. Call to register.
8+; Fri., May 18; 3-4:30 pm; Free

Homeschool Archery Class

Meet other homeschool students while learning the basics of archery and practicing with compound bows. Call to register, space is limited.
8+; Thurs., May 31; 10 am-noon; $5

Archery Shoot

Already taken the basic class and looking to practice your technique? A variety of games and targets will be available for some guided target practice. Equipment provided. Call to register, space is limited.
8+; Wed.; June 6; 5-7 pm; $5

Alphabet Hike

For a fun way to explore the park, go on an Alphabet Hike with your little ones. Children will enjoy the fun of a scavenger hunt as they search for the letters of the alphabet on this guided hike. Each letter is a clue to something found in the park. Call to register, space is limited.
3-5 yrs w/adult; Wed., June 13; 2-3 pm; Free

Nature Center Facelift Party

Have you been to the Nature Center lately? The 27 year old facility has been refreshed with new paint, new live animals, and some new displays and exhibits. Come join us for a day of guided tours and nature walks, animals, games and animal- themed refreshments. Get your own “facelift” from a face painter!
All ages; Sat. June 23; 11 am-4 pm; Free

Native American Games and Skills

Native Americans of the Southeast enjoyed an assortment of games and sports from lacrosse to the ancient game of chunky. Learn how to play some of these traditional games along with practicing other skills local Native Americans used in their daily lives. Call to register.
8+; Sat., June 30; 10 am-noon; Free

Ant Planet

Ants are an often overlooked part of our natural world, but they are one of the most successful groups of land animals on Earth. Learn about the fascinating lives of ants and how they affect the natural world around us. Some of the more interesting species of ants will be discussed as well as how to identify local ants. Call to register.
All ages; Thurs., July 12; 3-4 pm; Free

Marvels of Moths

While butterflies may be better known, after the sun goes down the night belongs to their relatives, the moths. There are far more species of moths than butterflies and they live fascinating lives. Learn about the importance of moths in the environment, how they survive, and about some of the many different kinds that call N.C. home. Part of National Moth Week and Moth Night. Call to register. 
All ages; Sat., July 28; 3-4 pm and 7-8 pm; Free 

Moth Night!

Clark Park’s woods often yield giant silkworm moths like the Luna and Polyphemus. Come hear about how moths differ from butterflies, how to attract and trap moths for ID and study, and see what we can catch at the park on this night. Moth Night is part of National Moth Week, a celebration of moth diversity, beauty, life cycles and habitats. Call to register.
All ages; Sat., July 28; 8-10:30 pm; Free

Fireflies and Other Creatures of the Night

Walk the trails of Clark Park and learn about the creatures that come out at night. Bring a flashlight and meet at the nature center. Dress to be outside. Call to register.
5+ yrs; Fri., Aug. 10; 8-9:30 pm; Free

Summer Constellations & Meteor Shower

Enjoy an evening under the stars as you learn the legends and stories behind the summer constellations as well as the science of the stars, nebulae, and planets visible this time of year. Afterward, lounge back and see if you can catch sight of a shooting star as you observe the Perseid Meteor Shower, one of the best meteor showers of the year. Call to register.
All ages; Sun., Aug. 12; 8-11 pm; Free


Outdoor Adventure Summer Camp

Summer Camp at Clark Park includes archery, hiking, fishing, animal tracking, outdoor living skills, canoeing and more. There are limited spots; early registration is suggested. This camp is partially funded by the Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc. Summertime Kids Grant. Registration begins April 2.
8-10 yrs.; Mon.-Fri.; Session I: June 11-15; Session II: July 23-27; 8:30 am-noon
10-12 yrs; Mon.-Fri.; Session I: June 25-29; Session II: July 30-Aug.3; 8:30 am-noon
Resident: $50/session; Non-Resident: $100/session

Growing Up Wild Summer Camp

This camp is designed for younger children who love to play because play is more than just fun and games-it is vitally important for children’s healthy development. The activities in this camp are constructed to help young children explore and learn about nature. This camp is partially funded by the Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc. Summertime Kids Grant. Registration begins April 2.
5-7 yrs; Wed.-Fri.; July 11-13; 9 am-noon; Resident: $30; Non-Resident: $60

Survival Camp

Children have keen instincts and passions that have helped them learn about nature in order to survive over millennia. Educators like Jon Young of the Wilderness Awareness School use these natural drives to teach basic principles of life science and ecology, build student confidence and impart knowledge that might be needed to survive in a true emergency. Experiences included in this camp are: building or finding primitive shelters, making safe fires with matches and friction, cooking over a campfire, creating useful tools like baskets, tools, or rope, tracking and catching animals, and identifying useful plants. There are limited spots; early registration is suggested. This camp is partially funded by the Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc. Summertime Kids Grant. Registration begins April 2.
10-12 yrs.; Mon.-Fri.; Aug. 6-10; 8:30 am-noon; Resident: $50/session; Non-Resident: $100/session