Stephens State Forest is located in south-central Iowa and is divded into seven unit totaling over 15,000 acres. The forest is dispersed over five counties: Lucas, Clarke, Monroe, Appanoose, and Davis. Stephens State Forest is administered by the Iowa DNR - Bureau of Forestry.
Camping fees are $9.00 per night during peak season (May 1 - September 30) and $6.00 per night during the off season (October 1 - April 30). An additional $3.00 per night is charged for equestrian sites year round. All camping at Stephens State Forest is considered non-modern, with no electric sites or modern restroom facilities.
Advance campsite reservations can be booked through the Parks Reservation System online or by calling 1-877-IAPARKS (1-877-427-2757). One third of the campsites are available for self registration on a first-come, first-serve basis. See maps for campground and trail locations.
Cedar Creek, Chariton and Thousand Acres Units
These units do not have any developed recreational facilities such as picnic areas, campgrounds, or designated trails. They are less well served by all-weather roads; however, there are many dirt roads and access lanes. These units are well suited to hunting, backcounty hiking, and wildlife watching.
The Cedar Creek Unit is four miles east and one mile south of the town of Williamson. This unit is bisected by an all-weather road.
The Chariton Unit is six miles east of the town of Williamson. An all-weather road runs along its east side.
The Thousand Acres Unit is northeast of and contiguous with the Chariton Unit. The all-weather county line road serves as the boundary between the Thousand Acres Unit and the Chariton Unit and the east side of the Thousand Acres Unit is accessible by graveled roads.
The Unionville Unit is comprised of eleven separate compartments in northeast Appanoose County and northwest Davis County. There are no developed recreational facilities such as picnic areas, campgrounds, or trails although there are dirt roads and service lanes. Several tracts are served by all-weather roads. The Unionville Unit provides good backcounty hiking, hunting, and wildlife watching opportunities.
Lucas, Whitebreast, and Woodburn Units
These units are contiguous and are located southwest of the town of Lucas, Iowa. Most of the recreational development on Stephens State Forest has taken place on these units. Recreational activities include fishing, picnicking, camping, hunting, hiking, equestrian riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and wildlife watching.
The Lucas Unit has two small ponds and three campgrounds. There are 5 miles of trails that can be utilized for hiking, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing. This unit is served by an all-weather road.
The Whitebreast Unit has two stocked ponds, three equestrian campgrounds, and one group-camp area. This unit also has 20 miles of multi-use trails that can be utilized for hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing, and equestrian riding. This unit is served by an all-weather road. The North Pond has recently completed improvements including an access road, parking area, aquatic habitat, and sediment basin. Stocking began in fall of 2011.
The Woodburn Unit has over six miles of backpacking trails and five pack-in (backcountry) campsites. These sites are primitive and do not have modern restroom facilities or electricity. There is a picnic table and fire ring at each campsite and a water hydrant available at the trailhead. There is no fee for these pack-in sites and they are first-come, first-serve. This unit has an all-weather road along its west side and through the middle of the unit. Parking and trail head for the backpack trail system is on 330th Avenue in Clarke County.