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. The city’s second largest regional park 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
PROGRAMS AND AMENITIES FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES
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. Funds from Caroline Harsant Whitley were recently used to complete an exhibit on turtle shells.
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.
Alligators chomping, snakes swallowing and turtles snapping; come see what is for dinner at the Nature Center.
All ages; Wed.; 4-4:30 pm; Free
Wild Plants 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 and meets monthly depending on the availability of participants. Call 910-433-1579 to express interest.
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.
6-under yrs w/adult; Feb. 18: Opossums; March 17: Insects and Sound; April 14: Earth Day; May 19: Crabs; June 16: Seashells; July 21: Sharks; Aug. 18: Elk; 1-2 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. 15, March 21 and April 18; 8:30-noon; 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
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)
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)
Baby Alligator Meet and Greet
Visit with our Nature Center’s cutest new resident, our baby alligator. Learn all about alligators in the wild in North Carolina. Find out what they eat, where they live, and how big they can get. Have the opportunity to safely pet this tiny little predator. Baby alligators grow fast and won’t stay this small for long! Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Tues., Feb 4; Fri., March 20; 3:30-4:30 pm; Free
Musical Me: Insects and Sound
Mosquitos buzz and crickets chirp, all by moving air. Discover how they do it in this Musical Me themed story and craft time. This is supported by The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County in part by contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources. Call to register 910-433-1579.
6-under yrs w/adult; Tues. March 17; 1-2 pm; Free
Leprechaun Clue Hunt
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by hunting for clues along the trail. Gather up a collection of stamps in a booklet as you search for the surprise. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Tues., March 17; Come anytime between 10-4; Free
Designed to introduce archery to beginners, participants use state-of-the-art compound bows as they learn the basics. We will also do some themed archery games. Safety, proper stance and follow through are covered. Adults welcome. Register early because space is limited. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
8+; Sat., March 28; 9-noon; $5/person
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; Mon., March 30; 3-4:30 pm; Free
Spring Nature Exploration
Come out to the park as we traverse the trails looking for signs of new life springing from the Earth. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Tues., March 31; 5-6 pm; Free
April Fool Me Walk
Join a park ranger for a stroll along the trail and see if you can figure out any of the Ranger’s tricks. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Wed., April 1; 5-6 pm; Free
Come get hands on experiences with turtles as we take them for a walk outside. Learn differences in shell type and diet and explore reasons behind these details. Call to register 910-433-1579.
All ages; Mon., April 13; 3:30-4:30 pm; Free
Prehistoric 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+; Fri., April 17; 2-4 pm; Free
Learn several different strokes to help you navigate the waters safely and explore areas that are new to park visitors. After a brief safety and paddling introduction, feel free to mosey around the hidden lake and enjoy the natural beauty. Pre-registration required by calling 910-433-1579.
8+; Sat., April 18; 2-4 pm; $15/person
Sensory Night Hike and Marshmallow Roast
Learn how to use your other senses as we explore how animals move along the trails at night. We will conclude by warming up around the fire and roasting marshmallows. Pre-registration at 910-433-1579.
5+; Fri., May 1; 7:45-9:30 pm; $2/person (cash only)
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 at 910-433-1579.
8+; Thurs., May 21; 3-4:30 pm; Free
Fort Building Water Fight
Learn how to make a simple debris shelter and build your own from natural materials to keep out as much water as possible. Test its durability during a water gun fight between teams. Pre-registration required by calling 910-433-1579.
5+; Thurs., June 16; 3-4 pm; Free
Recycled Boat Race
Bring in some scraps to enhance boats we will make out of cans. After completing your project we see how your boat floats and race. Bring some items to re-purpose as boat decorations and use some of ours. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Thurs.; June 18; 3-4:30 pm; Free
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; Tues., June 23; 9:30 am-noon; $5/participant
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 than butterflies and they live fascinating lives. Learn about the importance of moths in the environment, how they survive, and about some that call N.C. home. Part of National Moth Week and Moth Night. Call to register at 910-433-1579.
All ages; Sat., July 18; 7:30-8:30 pm; Free
Clark Park’s woods yield stunning moths. Hear about how moths differ from butterflies, how to attract them, and see what we catch. You will help bait and monitor five types of chemical and light traps. Moth Night is part of National Moth Week. An introductory lecture precedes the catching at 7:30 pm. Pre-registration required by calling 433-1579.
All ages; Sat., July 18; 8:30-10:30 pm; Come at 7:30 pm for introductory lecture; Free
Owl Hike and Marshmallow Roast
Learn about owls as the sun sets and venture into the woods at night to try to call some of these birds from the darkness. Conclude by warming up at the fire pit and roasting marshmallows. Pre-registration required by calling 910-433-1579.
All ages; Fri., July 24; 8:30-10:00 pm; $2/person cash only
EDUCATOR AND GROUP SERVICES
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
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.
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 ClubsA 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 AreaAre 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 MonarchsIn 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.
FRIENDS OF CLARK PARK
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.
Outdoor Adventure Weeks
Adventure Week 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 1.
8-10 yrs; Mon.-Fri.; Session I: June 8-12; Session II: July 20-24; 9 am-noon; $50
Children have instincts to learn about nature that are inborn for survival. 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 program are: building or finding primitive shelters, making safe fires with matches and friction, cooking over a campfire, creating useful tools like tools, or rope, tracking 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 1.
10-12 yrs; Mon.-Fri.; Session I: June 15-19; Session II: July 27-31; 9 am-noon; $50
Growing Up Wild Days
This program 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. Activities 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 1.
5-7 yrs; Tues., June 30-Thurs., July 2; 9 am-noon; $30