Cool Springs Environmental Education Center provides a great hands-on opportunity to learn about forestry, ecology and environmental issues. Located along the Neuse River about six miles from New Bern, North Carolina, this 1,700-acre outdoor classroom is great for students of all ages. 

We began operating in North Carolina in 1957 and today manage three lumber mills and more than 500,000 acres of timberland in the state. That experience provides the basis for Cool Springs, a working forest with school lessons about forestry working in harmony with wildlife habitat, air quality, water quality and recreational activities. 

Please note: Our trails are on private property, and the gate can be locked at any time.   
Avoid trespassing and being locked in by calling us at (252) 633-7101. 


We offer miles of trails suitable for all grade and skill levels, from under one hour to three hours or more: 


A short half-mile hike exploring a mixed pine and hardwood forest along Swift Creek. Best suited for very young children (K–1st grade) or groups with limited time. Time: Less than one hour. 

Plantation Ridge 

This 1.2-mile trail winds along Swift Creek, along the edge of a field, through a pine plantation, past a grave site, over a swamp on an elevated boardwalk and back through a cypress-gum bottomland hardwood swamp. Appropriate for 2nd grade students and above. Time: About two hours. 

Beaver Gulley 

This two-mile trail goes through the edge of a pine plantation, around a swamp and through a mature pine and hardwood forest along the banks of the Neuse River. It incorporates a visit to a historical longleaf pine tree, still bearing scars from the turpentine era. Appropriate for 3rd grade students and above. Time: About 2.5 hours. 

Bear Stomp 

Bear Stomp is a three-mile trail combining aspects of the Creekside, Plantation Ridge and Beaver Gulley hikes. Appropriate for 4th grade students and above. We advise students to pack a snack and drink for a short half-point break at our Riverside Picnic Shelter. Time: About 2.5–3 hours. 

Contact Us

Virtually every forest ecotype of eastern North Carolina can be found here. We offer the opportunity for teachers to design their own field trip with activities for all ages. If you’re interested in learning more about plants, animals and their habitats, please contact us today. You can also look for updates on our Facebook page.