The 9.5 mile Cinder Path is Iowa’s oldest rails-to-trails conversion trail. Most of the trail follows the valley of the Chariton River, which provides a densely wooded corridor and lots of shade for bicycling in hot weather. Near the Chariton end of the trail is Barber Woods, a county nature preserve in the Chariton River lowlands that contains a stand of hickory trees, otherwise rare in the area. There are several observation stands and rest stops built along this stretch for wildlife observations or a picnic. About two-thirds of the way to Derby is a covered wooden bridge. This is a great trail for those looking for a quieter, more natural setting and a bit more of a riding challenge than the usual rail trail provides.
Each year the Connecticut Yankee Pedaller Bicycle Shop sponsors the Chariton Bicycle Classic, a 60-mile bike ride that encompasses the Cinder Path and loops through several other small communities.
PIN OAK MARSH
This nature enthusiast’s dream is a 160 acre wetland along Hwy. 14 south of Chariton. Each year during the spring and fall migrations, you can see numerous ducks, geese, shorebirds and songbirds. Also with the abundance of vegetation around the wetland, you can catch a glimpse of beavers, muskrats, mink and river otters. This area provides recreational opportunities such as hiking, birding, nature photography and hunting. The Marsh is also an “outdoor classroom” for students depending upon the availability of the conservation director.
RED HAW STATE PARK
24550 US Hwy 34, Chariton, 641-774-5632
Located one mile east of Chariton, seven miles from Russell, and 50 miles from Des Moines, Red Haw State Park contains 420 acres which include a 72 acre electric motor only lake with a sandy beach for sunbathing and swimming . There is a 229-acre area south of the original park designated for public hunting. There are picnic areas that offer a splendid view of the lake along with a rustic shelter. The campground includes 80 camping sites including 58 with electrical hookups. There are paved roads, modern restrooms and showers and a trailer dumping station. A playground provides fun for little campers. No matter the season, the trees make Red Haw a beautiful place to visit. The redbud trees are particularly beautiful in the Park in the spring.
STEPHENS STATE FOREST
This park totals 15,170 acres. There are 30 miles of trails that are designated for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and/or snowmobiling. The 79 campsites (42 are equestrian) are open year-round. All campgrounds are primitive with no electricity but most have water hydrants available. Picnic tables, fire rings, and pit vault latrines are available. Firewood for campfires may be cut from dead and down trees but power chain saws are not allowed. The Cedar Creek and 1000 acres units are wonderful for off-road biking and hunting. The entire forest (except the campgrounds) provides excellent hunting opportunities for many species, especially deer and turkey. There are four large ponds stocked with bluegill, large-mouth bass, and catfish.
Stephens Forest is the thirteenth designated Bird Conservation Area in Iowa. It is home to bird species such as the Red-shouldered Hawk, Ruffed Grouse, Bobolink, Grasshopper Sparrow, Wood Thrush, Kentucky Warbler, Whip-poor-will, and American Woodcock.
This 40-acre old growth timber was once known as the Chariton Archery Club. It is a good hunting area and is located two miles north of the Chariton Airport.
Located three miles east of Williamson on County Road H20, the 25-acre water surface is surrounded by 101 acres of timber. It is a hunter and fisherman’s paradise.
CHARITON RIVER GREENBELT
This fabulous 634-acre greenbelt along Hwy. 14 south of Chariton includes Pin Oak Marsh, old growth timber and native prairie. Hunting, fishing, hiking, nut berry and mushroom harvestng are the most popular uses.
JERICHO HILLS CAMP
Located on approximately 50 acres of beautiful wooded property near Lucas and close to Stephens State Forest. Over a dozen recreational activities available. Open year around. Fully heated and air conditioned. 641-766-6151. firstname.lastname@example.org
FREEDOM BIBLE CAMP
21020 415 Street, Chariton, 641-774-5556