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Stephens State Forest

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General Information

Description -

Lucas, Whitebreast, and Woodburn Units

These units are located south and west of the town of Lucas and south of the town of Woodburn. Most of the recreational development on Stephens Forest has taken place on the Lucas and Whitebreast Units, which are contiguous. The Lucas and Whitebreast Units each have two ponds, four to five acres in size, stocked with bluegill, largemouth bass and catfish.

Recreation activities include fishing, picnicking, camping, hunting, hiking, riding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. Both units have equestrian areas where people can camp with their horses and trails where they can ride. The Woodburn Unit has backpacking trails and camp sites. Access to the backpack trails is 4 miles south of Lucas on U.S. Hwy. 65, then 3.5 miles west, then .5 miles south, then west on lane to trail head or about 1.25 miles south of Woodburn, then .5 miles east on the same road, then follow the gravel road south about 2.5 to 3 miles to the forest. See trail map.

Camping fees are $9.00 per night during the summer and $6.00 per night the rest of the year. An additional $3.00 per night is charged for equestrian campgrounds. See maps for campground and trail locations.

The Lucas Unit, 1,192 acres, is southwest of and within one mile of the town of Lucas. It is just southwest of the intersections of US Highways 65 and 34. The Lucas Unit contains two small lakes, 2 campgrounds and one equestrian campground. The unit is served by an all weather road.

The Whitebreast Unit, 3,207 acres, is located 2 miles south of and 2 miles west of the town of Lucas. It has two small lakes, two campgrounds and one equestrian campground. The unit is served by an all weather road.

The Woodburn Unit, 2,011 acres, is located 3 miles south of Woodburn. It has an all weather road along its west side and through its middle and can be accessed from its east end by a long, graveled lane. This unit is set aside for backpack trails and campsites.

Cedar Creek, Chariton, and 1,000 Acres Units

These units do not have any developed recreation facilities such as picnic areas, campgrounds and designated trails. They are less well served by all weather roads. However, there are many dirt roads and trails. These units are well suited to hunting and hiking.

The Cedar Creek Unit, 1,888 acres, is four miles east and one mile south of the town of Williamson. The unit is bisected by an all weather road.

The Chariton Unit, 1,513 acres, is six miles east of the town of Williamson. An all-weather road runs along its east side.

The 1000 Acre Unit, 1,616 acres, is northeast of and contiguous with the Chariton Unit in the northeast corner of Lucas County and the northwest corner of Monroe County. The all-weather county-line road serves as boundary between the 1000 Acre and Chariton Units and the east side is bounded by good roads.

Unionville Unit

The Unionville Unit, 2,245 acres, is comprised of nine separate tracts in northeast Appanoose County and northwest Davis County. There are no developed recreation facilities such as picnic areas, campgrounds and trails. Several tracts are served by all weather roads. The unit provides good hunting and hiking.

Reichelt Unit

The Reichelt Unit, 440 acres, was donated to the State of Iowa in 1986 by Sherman Reichelt. It is located 1 mile east of the town of Kellogg in Jasper County. There are no developed recreation facilities such as picnic areas, campgrounds and trails. Highway 6 borders this unit on its west side. This unit is not open for hunting and hiking opportunities are limited.

Except for the Reichelt Unit, the campgrounds on the Lucas and Whitebreast Units and areas within 200 yards of a residence, the entire forest is open to hunting.

The entire forest is also open to hiking and cross country skiing. Snowmobiles and horses are restricted to designated trails.


Stephens State Forest is administered by the Forestry Bureau. Area Forester Jeff Goerndt is responsible for administration and management of the area. The forest headquarters is located at North 8th and Mitchell, near the north edge of Chariton, 1 block west of Highway 14. The mailing address is 1111 North 8th Street, Chariton, Iowa 50049. Phone 641/774-4559. Jeff Goerndt can be e-mailed at jeff.goerndt@dnr.state.ia.us


The forest's original and most important function is to serve as an example of forest management for Iowa's citizens. It was a base of operations for the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) demonstration plantings of hardwoods and conifers. Over the years, plantations have continued to be established. Since 1972, commercial sales of sawtimber and other products have been made. Ongoing cultural practices improve the forest for production of forest products, wildlife habitat, erosion control and watershed protection. People from a wide area use the forest as a place to hunt, fish, camp, picnic, study nature and enjoy the out-of-doors.


The geology of most of Stephens Forest was influenced by the Nebraskan and Kansan glaciers which left deposits of glacial till over the area, covering the sedimentary deposits which had been formed under a vast inland sea. Sometime after these glaciers had deposited their loads of till over this part of Iowa, the Wisconsin glacier was melting in northern Iowa. Water produced by this melting ice found its way into the Missouri River drainage, causing large mud flats to be formed on the floodplain. Prevailing westerly winds picked up soil from these floodplains and carried them across what is now southern Iowa.

This fine, silty material is called loess and is found on ridge tops overlaying glacial till. On the sides of hills, erosion has exposed glacial deposited materials. The relatively narrow valleys are covered by alluvial material carried from the hills by water. In some instances, erosion has proceeded far enough in the valley to expose glacial till or underlying sedimentary material. The terrain then, is characterized by narrow, flat ridges separated by deeply cut drainages.

The area streams are intermittent or seep fed, slow running and dry up completely at times. Many dew ponds, small water holes for fire protection and wildlife, were built by the C.C.C.


The flora of the region consists of the tallgrass prairie association and the oak-hickory and bottomland hardwood timber types and their transition zones. Since the forest area is located mainly on soils which have been formed under forest vegetation, the plants of the prairie are not as common. However, big and little bluestem, switchgrass, Indian grass, prairie cordgrass and various prairie forbs such as purple coneflower, round-headed bush clover, lead plant and other prairie plants do occur on the area.

On the better upland sites, white oak, red oak and hickory are common. The oak-hickory timber type, usually found on the less fertile upland sites consists mostly of black oak, bur oak, shingle oak and hickory. The bottomland timber type on the forest includes red and white elm, cottonwood, hackberry, green ash, silver maple and black walnut.

Many areas have been planted to coniferous trees and some broad-leaved trees which are not native to the area. These include a variety of pines as well as Douglas fir, spruce, black locust, Osage orange and tulip poplar.

Climate - Climate Weather has an affect on the activities that can take place on the forest. There are many days throughout the year when it is impractical to work out-of-doors. On other days, weather conditions may affect soil conditions so that planned work must be delayed. The average annual temperature in Lucas County is 50.2 degrees. The average annual precipitation in Lucas County is 31.71 inches. The average length of the frost free season is 161 days from April 29th to October 7th. Killing frosts have occurred as late as May 25th and as early as September 14th. The months of March, April and May have the highest sustained wind readings of the year. These winds can be a hazard to early spring plantings.

Location -

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