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.


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 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. 

PROGRAMS AND AMENITIES FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES

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 surveysTThis group is for adults and mature children. Call to register.
12+; Every Tues.; 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+; Every Fri.; 3-4:30 pm; Free 

Mountain Bike Trail Work

Work on the Cape Fear Mountain Bike Trail is continuing but the existing trail is also in need of maintenance.  Avoid mosquitos by helping out in the winter. We will clear debris, saw, and fix existing trails. Bring water, snack and gloves. Stick around after the work to take a couple of laps on the modified trail. Meet at Clark Park Nature Center. Call to register.
All ages; 3rd Sat. of the month; Nov.18; Dec.16; Jan. 20; Feb. 17; 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; Nov. 21: Turkeys; Dec. 19: Reindeer; Jan. 16:Birds; Feb. 20: Groundhogs1-2 pm; Free

Archery Clinic and Pumpkin Shoot

This archery class is designed to introduce the sport of archery to beginners. Participants will use state of the art compound bows as they learn the basics of archery. Safety, proper stance and follow through will be taught. You will be hitting the pumpkin in the eye in no time! Adults welcome too. Register early because space is limited.
8+; Sat., Oct. 28; 9 am-noon; $5/participant

Sensory Night Hike and Marshmallow Roast

Find out how our other senses work at night as we explore the Clark Park trails.  At the nature center, we will talk about nocturnal animals and then explore the trails and end with a marshmallow roast.  Dress for the outdoors. Call to register; space is limited. 
All ages; Fri., Nov. 3; 5:30-7 pm; $3/person (cash only)

Leaf Peeper Boat Cruise

Enjoy leaves and artifacts on the banks of the Cape Fear as you cruise on a pontoon boat tour. Bring a flashlight and water. Departing from Campbellton Landing; 1126 Person St., Fayetteville, NC 28312. Register very early as space is limited.
12+; Sat., Nov. 4; 2-3:30 pm; $20/person

Twilight Canoe Tour

Spend the evening paddling around Clark Park’s hidden lake. Learn paddling stokes and techniques or just enjoy a relaxing drift through our remote quarry and catch up with nature. Register early, as space is limited.
8+ (parent must accompany children under 12.); Fri., Nov. 17; 6-8:30 pm; $10/person

Clark Park Historical Tour 

Every corner of Fayetteville has a story to tell. Take a tour of Clark Park and learn about the secrets of its past. It is adjacent to one of southeastern North Carolina’s largest Native American burial mounds, an attempted Cape Fear River canal, was once part of an Antebellum plantation, and part of the Confederate river defenses during  the Civil War. Learn as we take a leisurely walking tour. Call to register.
All ages; Sat., Dec. 2; 3-4:30 pm; Free

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. Call to register.
All ages; Date to be announced; Free


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