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Fire pits with grills and everything.
Unfortunately we were there in the dead of winter as a stop over on a road trip, but it was easy to find and easy to get into the park to the camp sites.
For just outside of Des Moines, pretty good spot.
Camping doesn't get much better than this in Iowa. The North Overlook site is part of a much larger group of COE campgrounds on Lake Red Rock. It is heavily shaded and offers direct access to a large beach on the lake complete with shower houses and concessions. Red Rock is the largest lake in the state and can accomodate any size water craft. The campground is located directly on the Volksweg trail which offers excellent opportunities for any level of hiker or bicyclist. The town of Pella is close by and is a worthy destination in itself. Shower houses are clean as is the campground in general. Campsites are well distanced from each other and offer a good degree of privacy. The only drawback, for some, is the fact that sewer and water hookups are not available. All sites have electric. I would highly recommend this, and all the COE campgrounds on Lake Red Rock.
This park may deserve a different rating at a different time of the year. This is Iowa's largest State Forest, and the Woodburn Unit plays host to several Backcountry campsites and 6 miles of trail. There is a picnic table and fire ring at every campsite. The trails are wide and well graded and not too much up and down except for periodic creek crossings which necessitate a steep descent-ascent. The trails are lightly trafficked.
You will find absolute solitude at this park, we didn't see anyone else out there with us. Perhaps for good reason. The defining characteristic of this park is it's insect life. Repellant and an active bat population kept the mosquitoes away, but the ticks were everywhere! My wife and I had more issues than other members of our party, but we were near constantly plucking them off of us. A frightening proposition for any backpacker.
In general the insects were diverse and abundant: ants, spiders, beatles, butterflies, moths, flys, ticks, wasps, you name it. Cobwebs would form overnight across the trail you just traversed and broke them the day before. At Buck Stop, a careless previous occupant made numerous gashes into a living tree with a blade, but we found a small swarm of Tawny Emperor butterflies making use of the opportunity. Amazing! Again, most insects were not an issue with heavy use of repellant, but the constant threat of ticks put a damper on our excursion.
Additionally, when we went in early July the creeks were dry. Making the only water source the spigot at the parking lot. The trail from Black Oak Camp to the Parking Lot is the shortest and easiest for this purpose if you find yourself running low.
We heard plenty of wildlife in early evening and at night: owls, raccoons, deer, coyotes.
We started out Friday evening with our packs and hiked and camped the park until Sunday morning.
We hiked all 6+ miles of trails here. Our first night in we camped at Buck Stop Camp. This site is on top of a ridge and is wonderful, you feel absolutely surrounded by wilderness; however, the site was a bit overgrown and thus undersized in terms of usable tent space. Our second night we stayed at the exact opposite corner at Longbeard. This is a great, bare, mostly flat site that is quite large, could host a large camping party.
Summary: This park may be better during the fall when the ticks have gone dormant, but at that time I believe it starts to get its use as a public hunting grounds. The lack of overland water in the summer and thriving tick population makes it a challenge to be at ease. The trails are easy to moderate, well graded apart from a few steep down-ups to dry creek beds. Good training ground for backpackers, tuck your pants into your boots, and happy trails!
Nice park, a little run down, but there's a new park ranger in town who is trying to fix it up. New rental cabin almost finished, clean beach, boat ramp and fishing. Clean spacious bathrooms, nice playground for the kids and a really cool equestrian section. No store, no wood so get what you need before you get here.
Spacious campground with clean facilities. Some campsites are close to the lake. Several hiking paths-Lakeshore Trail goes around the whole lake, so be sure to reserve 2-3 hours to conquer this path-more if you like to take in the scenery. Quite a bit of wildlife seen during kayaking and hiking-muskrat, beaver, swans, geese could be found on the water. Also seen: deer, bald eagles, frogs, toads, turtles. There were many that enjoyed fishing on the lake, as well. We spent our time hiking and kayaking, but fishing seemed pretty good for those partaking. Also has a nice beach!