Clemmons Educational State Forest
North Carolina’s first educational state forest
Facts & Figures
Address: 2256 Old U.S. Hwy 70, Clayton, NC 27520
County: Johnston and Wake
Size: 825 acres, 1.289 square miles
- Saturday & Sunday: 11am-8pm
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesday-Friday: 9am-5pm
Phone: (919) 553-5651
Management: North Carolina Forest Service
- Outdoor Education Workshops
- Picnic Facilities
- Ranger Conducted Classes
- Forest Geology Trail with “Talking Rocks”
- “Talking Tree” Trail
- Forest Demonstration Trail
- Watershed Extension Loop
Clemmons Educational State Forest is an 825-acre educational state forest in Clayton, North Carolina. Opened in 1976, it is North Carolina’s first educational state forest and is managed by the North Carolina Forest Service. Clemmons Educational State Forest offers a variety of educational and recreational opportunities free of charge. It is situated between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions and features pine stands and hardwoods, along with streams and rock formations. There are a variety of accessible trails featuring exhibits that teach about trees and forest management practices, including the “talking trees” and “talking rocks” trails. Conveniently located on Old U.S. Hwy. 70 in Clayton, it is less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Raleigh, making it easily accessible to anyone in the Triangle.
Our family has made many visits to Clemmons Educational State Forest over the years. It’s one of the first parks we explored locally and we make a few trips there every year. A huge highlight for our kids and what keeps us coming back are the “talking trees” and “talking rocks,” a series of electronic educational kiosks that talk about the different types of trees and the different types of rocks located in the forest. These educational exhibits are a huge hit for our family!
There are several different trails ranging from less than a mile at the shortest to a 3-mile loop at the longest. These trails are mainly rolling terrain and are great for family hikes with smaller children. In addition to the trails, the educational kiosks make for great learning opportunities for kids. With only a 20-minute drive from home to the forest for us, we typically head there for late morning hikes on the weekends, followed by picnic lunches on one of the many picnic tables available for use.
Our oldest son also had a field trip with his 1st grade class from his elementary school a couple years ago in the spring to learn about forestry and trees, which I was able to help chaperone. The forest rangers did a wonderful job teaching the students about forests and trees while making learning fun for the students. Clemmons Educational State Forest offers educational programs for school groups by reservation.
Be sure to check the hours of operation, especially on the weekends! The forest does not open until 11am, which we learned the hard way the first time we visited. Also, during COVID-19, all indoor facilities are closed to the public, including the information center, shelters, and restrooms, so plan your trip accordingly.