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Shimek State Forest
Shimek State Forest

Shimek State Forest is located in Lee and Van Buren Counties in southeast Iowa near the town of Farmington. The forest headquarters is located about 1 mile northeast of Farmington on County Road J56. Recreational opportunities abound in the forest.

+ Shimek State Forest, History
+ Geology
+ Climate
+ Flora (Plant Life)
+ Fauna (Animal Life)
+ Origin of the Forest Name, Shimek
+ Forest Management
Shimek Unit Information

Advance campsite reservations can be booked for Lick Creek through the park reservation system. Half of the campsites are still available for self registration on a first come first-serve basis. See maps for campground and trail locations.

The Farmington Unit contains Bitternut Lake campground with 8 sites, available on a first come first-serve policy, and a boat ramp. The Farmington Unit also has Black Oak Lake with a handicapped accessible picnic area, fishing dock, parking area, and restrooms. There is walk-in fishing access at White Oak Lake, also on the Farmington Unit. The unit has 18.9 miles of hiking trails.

The Donnellson Unit contains the White Oak campground with 11 sites, available on a first come first-serve policy. A boat ramp and a hike-in campsite is located at Shagbark Lake. The hike-in campsite is .5 mi from the boat ramp parking lot and .6 mi from the access road, which is south of the lake.  The Donnellson Unit has a nature trail, 2 picnic areas, and 6.2 miles of hiking trails.

The four lakes in the Farmington and Donnellson Units are stocked with bass, channel catfish and panfish.

The Lick Creek Unit contains two equestrian campgrounds, one with 12 sites and the other with 25 sites. There are 25 miles of equestrian trails on the Lick Creek Unit, including one graveled all-weather trail.

Equestrian facilities include hitching rails, pit toilets, fire rings, picnic tables, gravel parking pads, a water hydrant, and shade for horses. There are two in the lower campground and one in the upper campground, as well as open air stalls for overnight stabling in both campgrounds. A day-use area, next to the upper equestrian campground, is provided for those not camping.

The Keosauqua Unit has 7.7 miles of hiking trails.

The entire forest is open to hunting (except camping areas) and hiking.

For questions regarding:

  • Lower and Upper Campground
  • Bitternut Lake Campground
  • White Oak Campground
Please contact the parks technician at 319-931-7805.


Be careful with fire. Do not leave a fire unattended. Fires are permitted only where fire rings are provided. Only dead and downed wood may be collected for firewood.

Motor vehicle operation only on public roads. ATVs are not permitted anywhere in the forests, trails, or roads. Snowmobiles are allowed only on designated routes. Confine vehicles to the main roads. Drive carefully.

Horse riding is allowed only on designated trails, roads, and campgrounds. Mountain bikes are allowed on designated horse trails.

There are no designated swimming locations.

Camping is allowed only in designated areas.

State regulations require horses, mules and donkeys being transported interstate (from one state to another) must have a current Certification of Veterinary Inspection (health certificate) and a negative Coggin's test (EIA). This paperwork must accompany the animal into the State of Iowa. Please refer to the Iowa Horse Admission Regulations for more information. This law applies to equestrian camping, day-use and trail riding in any State owned Park or Forest.

Contact Information

Shimek State Forest
33653 Route J56
Farmington, Iowa 52626.

Call 319-878-3811 or Shimek_forest@dnr.iowa.gov

The forest headquarters is located about 1 mile northeast of Farmington on county road J56.

Farmington 2,207 acres
Lick Creek 2,866 acres
Donnellson 1,330 acres
Croton 1,827 acres
Keosauqua 918 acres
Total 9,148 acres
Shimek Maps