We’re Open for Hiking!

We’re happy to announce that our hiking trails are once again OPEN to the public!

As of May 1, 2022, visitors can now hike and explore our nature trails on Greers Ferry Lake. Please remember to take only photos, and leave nothing but footprints. Pets are allowed on a leash.

Please contact us to request access for group activities.

Happy Trails!

A Message from Our Programs Director

Dr. Don Culwell, Programs & Services Chair

How are you?  Isolated and wishing for a good walk at SFNC, even with a class of excited kids?  “We surely are down” as the Nature Center is closed!  Could it be possible for us to reopen sometime next spring?? Hope so!  We have had 2 groups of kids wanting to be outside on the trails this fall, and, of course, the answer was “we’re sorry, but we’re closed.”  

I, probably like you, feel a real void without activities at SFNC and wonder at times if there isn’t some way for us to get our “nature fix,” even meeting with social distancing and masks at the pavilion.  A project to bring some of us together might be cleaning up the downed trees. There are a number of big cedars down at the bridge which need to be dealt with, a project with distancing outdoors that could take care of brush and ready some good cedar logs to be dragged out of the glade where they lie.

Late last August we had grant monies come available to conduct a burn on our glades, an activity that Clint Johnson, our Game and Fish advisor, has noted in his upkeep plan for SFNC.  Such a late season burn usually knocks down sapling growth; our pine and sweetgum saplings in the glades seem to have been significantly burned like we had hoped with that prescribed burn.  Perhaps a downside of the burn is the destruction of about a quarter of our bridge over the glade behind the cabin; it could be time now for significant replacement of the wooden bridge floor, much of which is rotting between boards that had already been replaced. Perhaps this could be the time to consider a new type of crossing of that glade, one that would require even less maintenance; time will tell.

Anyway, South Fork is ready and itching for activity whenever healthy conditions return.  Everyone, please keep safe and well!

Don Culwell  501-358-2095

South Fork Closed Temporarily

Due to the continued precautions surrounding COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing in public spaces, our board has decided to keep the South Fork trails closed until further notice. Please watch our website and social media for updates on re-opening, and other exciting news. As summer approaches, we hope that you will keep safety in mind and enjoy outdoor spaces responsibly.

Remember, you can continue your support of South Fork and the Gates Rogers Foundation from home! Leave reviews online or donate to our conservation efforts with a tax-deductible contribution!

On behalf of the Gates Rogers Foundation board, thank you & be well!

June 9: “Finger Food” Guitar Concert Fundraiser

You’re Invited!

WHEN: Saturday, June 9, 2018
WHERE: Fairfield Bay Conference Center
Lost Creek Parkway
ADMISSION DONATION: $45 (refreshments included)

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South Fork Nature Center, one of Arkansas’ premier conservation and environmental educations centers, announces a fund raising evening on June 9, 2018 at the Fairfield Bay Convention Center to benefit the 501C organization. The doors open at 6:30pm for a silent auction and refreshments. Tickets/Donations are $45 per person and will include refreshments and there will be a cash bar as well.

Finger Food is a feast not only for guitar lovers, but also for anyone with a passion for acoustic music. The guitarists perform “in the round” and trade songs and stories about their compositions and their approach to the guitar in a casual concert setting. The music focuses on contemporary instrumental American Fingerstyle Guitar with folk, jazz, Celtic, classical and blues influences.

Sponsors for the event include The Nature Conservancy, Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC, First Security Bank, Davis Cash Lumber, Edward Jones, Cicis Pizza, Graham & Associates, PEH Hardware and Petit Jean Electric Cooperative.

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Saturday, March 10: The Woods in March

Meet at Riddle Cabin at 10am on the second Saturday in March!

Come a little early for refreshments – we’ll have the big porcelain coffee pot on and peach cobbler in the Dutch oven.
For this Saturday trail walk, we’ll check out the ferns and mosses on the forest floor, taking note of the winter buds on shrubs and trees along the trail. Winter identification of trees and shrubs involves a look at bark patterns, twig growth, and bud structure. What can the March woods teach us?

Bring a lunch & stay afterwards for a look at the new outdoor classroom pavilion.

Contact: Dr. Don Culwell, Programs Director (501-358-2095)

May 13: Photography Walk

Mark your calendars!

10am Saturday, May 13: “A Walk in the Woods” photography event, hosted by docent Dr. Don Culwell

Bring any camera or cell phone and join Don to photograph life along South Fork’s Trails. Submit your best pictures of nature as you see it for our photo contest. Winning photos will be posted on our website and displayed in Clinton at a site to be announced. All ages are encouraged to participate. You don’t have to be a pro – Just come and experience spring at South Fork Nature Center. We’ll meet at the SFNC’s Riddle Cabin and hike the trails together. Come a bit early & enjoy some coffee & Dutch oven cobbler!

See full events schedule →

Announcement! Outdoor Pavilion Groundbreaking

We have some exciting news to share! As part of the Sustainable Rivers and Forest Initiative with BHP Billiton announced last October, a new outdoor classroom pavilion is under construction at the South Fork Nature Center for the community to use.

Builders broke ground this week and expect to complete the project by this fall. The Nature Conservancy and BHP Billiton are both committed to identifying large-scale conservation opportunities and business strategies that enhance the resilience of our natural environment and improve community livelihood. Stay tuned for details about a dedication when the pavilion is complete this fall!

Read more: “Cheers for Greers” & the BHP Initiative →

Nature Center Day

Saturday, April 18, 2015

SFNC March 13, 2012 190Free Programs at South Fork Nature Center! Beginning at 10 a.m. Herbal enthusiast Shirley Pratt for a walk around South Fork Nature Center and learn about some of the Medicinal & Edible Plants of South Fork. The trail walk will emphasize identification and historic uses for plants found in nature. Shirley Pratt, a retired biology teacher and herbal enthusiast, encourages everyone to bring along “mystery plants” for identification! Bring a sack lunch and enjoy the Nature Center for the day!

Joyce HartmannAt 1 p.m. there will be a Sandstone Painting Project led by local artist Joyce Hartmann; she will demonstrate techniques for painting these rocks. You don’t need to be an artist to participate, just willing to learn. All supplies and materials will be furnished, please wear old clothing & something to sit on.

In case of rain, this event will be rescheduled. There will be another rock-painting event May 23rd beginning at 10 a.m. This workshop is free & open to the public


Please pre-register by calling Joyce at 501-745-6615 or South Fork at 501-745-6444.

Saturday, June 10: Raptor Rehab Program

Join us for an exciting free program at the Nature Center as we welcome Raptor Rehab, who will share about their mission, and introduce some magnificent birds of prey that are part of the release program!

10:00am, June 10, 2023 at the South Fork Nature Center Pavilion

Raptor Rehab of Central Arkansas provides quality care and rehabilitation for ill, injured or orphaned birds of prey with the goal of their release back into the wild. Visit their website to learn more: http://www.rrca-raptors.org/

All ages are welcome to attend! Parking is available across from the entrance gate, and pedestrians should use the foot path next to the gate and follow signs for the Pavilion. If you would like to stay after the program to explore our trails, we recommend bringing hiking boots, bug spray, and drinking water.


Cleburne County Homeschool Co-Op 2023

We have to admit, April is particularly good month for a field trip at South Fork! These kids & parents from the Cleburne County Home School Cooperative enjoyed their first visit to South Fork with a field-based education day led by docents Bob Verboon, Shirley Pratt, Robert Fuhler, and Connie Smith.

During the hike, students learned about plant identification, noted the newly-painted tree ID markers completed by thee Master Naturalists, and explored connections of the unique watershed habitats at Greers Ferry Lake.

This group was awesome and we can’t wait to have them back!

If your homeschool group is interested in a field trip at South Fork, we’d love to get you in touch with some of our education enrichment programs! Reach out to us by e-mail at grf@artelco.com to schedule a visit.

The trails are open to the public sunup to sundown year-round, free of charge. Hikers can use the trail opening next to the gate.

Job Well Done

Last of the South Fork Tree ID Stones Painted

The Fates were smiling! 7 painters arrived at Pat and Fred’s house Friday afternoon to paint the 7 remaining South Fork Nature Center ID stones. Robert was kept busy distributing paint supplies, making sure everyone had what they needed, and standing ready to wipe a brow if necessary — a Stone-Painting-Concierge Extraordinaire! Painters included Pat Bradley, Cathy Connaughton, Becky Pierce, NiT Laurie Gaines, Connie Smith, Sunnie Ruple, Sharon Roberson, Robin Harris, Robert Fuhler.

While the paint on the stones dried, the crew had tea and snacks and enjoyed a beautiful view of the afternoon sunshine on Lake Conway. Then Fred and Robert hauled the stones to the truck so they could be transported to their permanent homes on the trail the following morning.

Special thanks to Fred Hendricks for scrubbing the stones, as well as hauling the marker stones around with his truck and his back…over and over and over.

Ed, Fred, Laurie, Becky, and Pat gathered at South Fork to place the newly painted stones in their places. The group discovered quite a bit of invasive grape holly. Becky and Fred made some excellent kills…

Thanks to Bob Verboon for sharing this exciting update from the FAMN newsletter!

For more on the cool projects of the Foothills of Arkansas Master Naturalist team, you can follow them on Facebook at @FoothillsArkansasMasterNaturalists

Repainting the Marker Stones

Admiring the beautiful work of these Master Naturalists!

Many of the tree ID stones at South Fork Nature Center had weathered to the extent that they were unreadable. This team from FAMN (Foothills of AR Master Naturalists) collected & cleaned them & repainted the information before replacing them on the South Fork trails.

Look for these marvelous markers on your next hike along our trails!