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


GENERAL INFORMATION

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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

 


PROGRAMS AND AMENITIES FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES

New Exhibits

Clark Park features new exhibits including: Nature at Night-images of park wildlife by night vision camera and 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 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

***IDEAL FOR SENIORS***

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

***IDEAL FOR SENIORS***

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 

Clark 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. 

Science by Black Light

Join a park ranger to explore natural objects under an ultra-violet light. Learn why they glow. Call to register at 910-433-1579. 
All ages; Sat., March 9; 10-11am; Free

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 periods and life cycles are short). Take a guided walk through the woods as you search for these seasonal species. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Thurs., March 14;3-4:30 pm; Free

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 3rdTuesday 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.   March 19- Plants; April 16- Beaver; May 21- Snakes; June 18- Sea Creatures; July 16- Crabs; August 20- Sea Turtles
6-under yrs w/adult; 1-2 pm; Free

Off the Beaten Path

Join a park ranger as we trek through the unexplored woods of Clark Park along the creek, an old deer path, an old canal, and a hidden bridge. We will explore the spring wildlife that lives in the park. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
8+; Thurs., March 28; 5-6 pm; Free

Clark Park Canoe Tour

Learn several different strokes to help you navigate the waters safely and explore areas that are new to park visitors. There will be a brief safety introduction and basic paddling lesson. After that, feel free to mosey around the hidden lake to see what you can discover. Pre-registration required by calling 910 433-1579.
8+; Sat., March 30; 2-4 pm; $15/person

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., March 30 and April 20; 8:30-noon; Free

Basic Archery Clinic

This class is designed to introduce the sport of archery to beginners. Participants will use compound bows as they learn the basics of archery. Safety, proper stance and follow through will be taught. You will be hitting the bull’s eye in no time! Adults welcome too. Register early at 910-433-1579 because space is limited.
8+; Sat., April 20; 2-5 pm; $5

Tree ID Interpretive Hike

In recognition of Arbor Day, join a park ranger on a walk down the Bear Trail as you learn about the trees of the Cape Fear River Valley.  Learn how to identify them and of their importance to both people and the forest.  See Cumberland County’s tallest Loblolly Pine along the way. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Fri., April 26; 3-4:30 pm; Free

Campfire Program

Gather around the campfire for an evening of s’mores or banana boats, storytelling, skits, and games.  Fun for the whole family!  Dress for outdoors.  Bring water and a flashlight.  Look for signs that lead to the campground.  Promptness is essential.  Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Fri., May 3; 7:30-9 pm; $5/participant

Butterfly Hunt

Explore local early butterflies and caterpillars.  Learn about host plants you can put in your garden to attract them. Bring your camera. Call to register at 910-433-1579. 
All ages; Thurs., May 9; 4:30-5:30 pm; Free

Pre- Historic Technology: How to use a Spear Thrower

Learn the history of this tool and how it advanced hunting technology. After instruction, participants will throw darts using the atlatl (spear thrower) and enjoy games Call to register at 910-433-1579.
8+; Sat., May 18; 9-11am; $5/person

Wild About the Woodpeckers

To celebrate the naming of our minor league team, we journey to Weymouth Woods to stalk the red cockaded woodpecker. We will look for five other woodpecker species as well before heading to lunch at an area restaurant. Bring a snack, water and wear shoes suitable to hiking. Meet us there or take our van. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
Mature children 8+; Sat., May 18; Van leaves at 7:30 am and returns 2 pm; $5/person (lunch not included)

Archery Clinic

Designed to introduce archery to beginners, participants use state-of-the-art compound bows as they learn basics.  Come out for this Star Wars theme archery shoot. Safety, proper stance and follow through will be taught. You will be hitting the bull’s eye in no time!  Adults welcome too.
Register early because space is limited.910-433-1579.
8+; Sat., May 25; 9 am-noon; $5/person

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 910-433-1579.
5+; Sat., June 1;10 am-noon; Free

Homeschool Archery Program

This archery class is designed to introduce the sport of archery to beginners. Participants will use compound bows as they learn the basics of archery. Safety, proper stance and follow through will be taught. You will be hitting the bull’s eye in no time! Adults welcome too.  Register early, space is limited.  Meet at Clark Park.  Call 910-433-1579 to register.
6+; Thurs., June 6; 10 am-1 pm; $5/participant

Letterbox Treasure Hunt

Grab a map from the nature center, get instructions from a park ranger and follow the clues around the trails to find different stamps that represent the animals that can be found in the park.  When you find all the stamps come back inside for a prize.
All ages; Thurs., June 7; come anytime between 11 am-4 pm; Free

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 910-433-1579.
8+; Tues., June 11; 3-4:30 pm; Free

Clark Park Night Hike and Marshmallow Roast

Explore the forest at night while searching for creatures, big and small, that ‘haunt’ Clark Park’s woods. Conclude by warming up at the fire pit and roasting marshmallows.  Pre-registration required by calling 910 433-1579.
All ages; Fri., July 12; 8:30-10 pm; $2/person

Marvel 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 at 910-433-1579. 
All ages; Sat., July 20; 3-4 pm and 7-8 pm; Free 

Moth Night

Clark Park’s woods often yield stunning moths. Hear about how moths differ from butterflies, how to attract them, and see what we catch. Moth Night is part of National Moth Week. An introductory lecture precedes the catching at 7pm. Pre-registration required by calling 433-1579.
All ages; Sat., July 20; 8-10:30 pm; Come at 7 for introductory lecture. Free

Clark Park Fort Building and Water Fight

Make a simple debris shelter of natural materials. Test its ability to shed water during a water gun fight between teams. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
5+; Thurs., July 25; 3-4 pm; Free

Coyotes: The New Top Dog?

A new predator has made its way here; the coyote. These wild dogs live surprisingly close to neighborhoods. Learn about the pros and cons of their presence and view camera trap footage of coyotes in Fayetteville. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Fri., July 26; 3-4 pm; Free 

Furs and Skulls

Learn about differences between area mammals and their skulls through this hands-on program. Call to register at 910-433-1579. 
All ages; Tues., Aug 6; 3:30-4:30 pm; Free

Summer Constellations and Meteor Shower

Enjoy an evening under the stars as you learn the legends and stories behind 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 at 910-433-1579. 
All ages; Mon., Aug. 12; 8-11 pm; Free

EDUCATOR AND GROUP SERVICES

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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. 

DIRECTIONS