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


PLEASE NOTE: The campground at Clark Park is currently closed due to plumbing issues at the bathhouse ***


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 remains a natural area dedicated to preserving the environment, educating the public about nature, and providing the only camping in the area. The Nature Center's museum features displays and free viewing of live animals.

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 nature and recreation 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.

CLICK HERE to view the "Call of the Wild," our most recent Nature & Outdoor Programming Newsletter

Clark Park Trail Map



New Exhibits

Clark Park features new exhibits including: Nature at Night-images of park wildlife by night vision camera and an exploration of anatomical features of animals that get around in the dark. I Saw It At Clark Park-a collection of hundreds of photographs of organisms that call the park home. North Carolina Insects-an exploration of what it is to be an insect, and display of hundreds of locally collected species. Snakes-a display on snake biology and defenses featuring local species and Turtles Top to Bottom-a touchable exploration of the unusual skeletons of these beloved creatures. Ongoing renovation of exhibits is financed by generous donations from the Cape Fear River Basin Environmental Fund and Waverly C. Broadwell Family Environmental Education Fund of Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc. and the Florence Rogers Charitable Trust.

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 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. For more on the benefits of nature play, visit www.naturalearning.org.

Self-Guided Games, Scavenger Hunts and Prize-Quests

Guides to themed scavenger hunts and other games are often available at the Nature Center and change periodically. Games, and quests for completing tasks in the nature center can be completed for a small prize. 

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 910-433-1579.
12+; 2nd Tues. of each month; 8:15-9:30 am; Free 

Wild Plants 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 and meets monthly depending on the availability of participants. Call 910-433-1579 to express interest.
12+; Free 

Clark Park 4

Nature Story Time

You and your child are invited to Clark Park for a nature story and craft time with a different theme on the 3rd Tues. of each month.  A Cumberland County Public Library librarian reads the story as your child interacts with them.  Call to register at 910-433-1579. August 20- Sea Turtles; Sept. 17- Spiders; Oct. 15- Bats; Nov. 19- Fox; Dec. 17- Reindeer; Jan. 21- Bears; Feb. 18- Opossums.
6-under yrs w/adult; 1-2 pm; Free

Canoe Tour

Explore a quiet, secluded lake after a brief basic safety introduction and paddling lesson. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
8+; Fri., Sept. 6; 4:30-6:30 pm; $10/ person

Fun With Fungi

Toadstools, morels, fairy rings, puff balls, truffles, mold and lichens. Learn about the fascinating world of fungi as well as their importance to the forest. View preserved specimens before heading down the trail to see live fungi. Call to register 910-433-1579.
All ages; Fri., Sept.20; 4-6 pm; Free

Apples on the Fire

Gather around the campfire as we tell stories and cook apple recipes. Tell your own story if you wish, or just listen. Follow signs that lead to our campground. Call to register 910-433-1579.
6+; Fri., Oct. 4; 6:30-8 pm; $5/person

Night Hike and So Much S'More

Bring your headlamps and flashlights to explore the woods after dark. After a brief discussion on the creatures that come out at night, hike the trails to identify animals including owls, spiders and frogs. Stick around to roast marshmallows and make s’mores. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Fri., Oct. 11; 7:30-9 pm; $3 (cash only)

Ghosts of the Sandhills (Campfire Program)

Learn about local lore and legends as you listen to stories of this region’s haunted past while roasting marshmallows outside at our campground. May not be suitable for young children. Call 910-433-1579 to register.
8+; Sat., Oct. 26; 6-8 pm; $3 (cash only)

Youth Archery 

Learn the basics of archery through correct shooting techniques, target practice and games. Parents or guardian must be present. Register early at 910-433-1579 because space is limited.
5-7 yrs; Mon., Oct. 21; 9:30 am-noon; $5/participant

Pre-historic Technology: Spear Throwing

Learn the history of this tool and how it advanced hunting technology. After instruction, throw darts using the atlatl (spear thrower) and enjoy games. Call to register 910-433-1579.
8+;  Sat., Nov. 30; 2-4 pm; Free

Shoot Your Old Pumpkin Archery Program

Splat! Get the last bit of fun out of your old pumpkin. In this beginner class,participants use state of the art compound bows and learn the basics. You will be hitting the pumpkin in the eye in no time, and some of our jack-’o-lanterns pack a special surprise. Adults welcome too. Bring your old pumpkin and/or hit some of ours.  Register early because space is limited 910-433-1579.
8+; Sat., Nov. 2; 9:30 am-noon; $5/participant

The Wild Side of Holiday Ham

Domestic pigs have wild roots in the Eurasian wild boar. These and other free-ranging swine present interesting environmental problems. Learn about their biology and ecology. Hear some hog calling, examine a boar skull and make a wild swine mask. Call to register 910-433-1579.
All ages; Fri., Nov. 22; 3:30-4:30 pm; $1/participant making the craft (cash only)

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.; Nov. 2, Dec. 14, Jan. 18, Feb. 15; 8:30-noon; Free

Winter Solstice Evergreen Hike

Join a park ranger as we traverse the trails at Clark Park and learn about the evergreens and their usage. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Fri., Dec. 20; 4-5 pm; Free

Bamboo Crafts

Bamboo is a useful tool and handy material for many crafts. Join us in creating with bamboo and other natural materials. Call to register 910-433-1579.
5+; Fri., Jan. 3; 3:30-4:30 pm; Free


There are more species of beetles on earth than any other kind of animal. Observe beetle specimens and find out how their unique bodies have led to their great success. Call to register 910-433-1579.
All ages; Thurs., Jan. 23; 3:30-4:30 pm; Free

Cold Blooded Animal Myths and Lore

Did you ever get to touch a snake or lizard? Learn about common myths and stories related to reptiles and amphibians through this hands-on program. Call to register 910-433-1579.
All ages; Fri., Jan. 24; 4:30-5:30 pm; Free

Shell Stories

Turtles are diverse and fascinating. See our new turtle shell exhibit and learn about strange creatures like pig-nosed and snake-necked turtles. Draw a life-sized Archelon, the largest turtle that ever lived, and take a photo of yourself wearing a real sea turtle shell.  Make a turtle craft to take home. Call to register 910-433-1579.
All ages; Tues., Feb. 11; 3:30-4:30 pm; $1 per participant making the craft (cash only)

Nature's Hide and Seek

Discover different types of camouflage and how animals put them into practice by joining the camouflage hike. Search for critters hidden in the forest and even do some hide and seek of your own. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
3-10 yrs; Mon., Feb. 17; 3-4 pm; Free

Animal Clue Identification

What kind of animals do you have in your backyard? Join a park ranger through this hands-on program by using your different senses to identify animals by their sound, skull, skin, and tracks. Make your own track imprints to take home. Call to register 910-433-1579.
All ages; Thurs., Feb. 20; 4:30-6 pm; $2/participant (cash only)

Honeybee Heroes

Honeybees are critical to food production. They also provide many other valuable products. Yet, honeybees are facing threats all over the world. Enjoy tasting a variety of honey as we learn about the benefits of bees and examine some giant bee sculptures. Call to register 910-433-1579.
All ages; Thurs., Feb. 27; 3:30-4:30 pm; $2/person (cash only)



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.


This is our fun group of dedicated volunteers.  Training is provided for all roles and a shiny button is earned for each you take on. 

Greeter: Welcome guests to the Center, orient them to trails and amenities, and answer basic questions about animals and exhibits. Wonderful for someone outgoing who enjoys conversation and is excited about sharing Fayetteville’s resources with others.

Tour Guide: Learn to give structured tours of the Center’s live animals, displays and exhibits to groups of 4-12 year olds.  It is hard to have a bad day when leading a tour group.

Nature Hike Guide: Learn to give structured Nature Hikes to groups of 4-12 year olds. Every tour is different and fresh with discovery.

Critter Caretaker: Learn basic animal care working with reptiles and amphibians. Provide morning care including feeding, watering and misting of tanks plus associated habitat cleaning and maintenance.

Guest Instructor: Are you passionate about a topic and looking to share it with others? (are you a bee-keeper? bird-watcher? butterfly-gardener? spider expert? etc.)

Contact Jen Smith at 910-433-1579 for more information.

Surviving Another Summer

Another summer brought great, off-line times for campers taking part in Clark Park’s Survival Week! This week of half-day experiences for 10-12 year olds is funded in part by generous donations from the Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc. Among many activities, students learned about primitive hunting techniques by using darts and throwers (atlatls.) Many preferred throwing the long arrows like spears but the darts went much faster once the atlatl launcher was mastered. Students also lashed together their own raft made from bamboo, and had the fun of trying to float it to the “desert island” in the quarry lake. Kids also learned all about fire making and safety and hypothermia prevention, built survival shelters, tracked a “lost” park ranger and enjoyed free nature play such as exploring a muddy ravine. Survival Week will be back in August of 2020.