AUDUBON COUNTY - Looking for somewhere to go in the great outdoors, but you want to stay close to home? Littlefield Recreation Area, listed in the Explore Iowa's Outdoors "99 Counties, 99 Parks" website, offers 444 acres of county owned park with a 77 acre lake and over 100 campsites, along with hiking, fishing, swimming and more.

The Travel Iowa webpage calls Littlefield Recreation Area a "hidden gem, just off Interstate 80."

Located six miles east of Exira on County Road F58, the area is the largest and most popular of parks run by the Audubon County Conservation Board (ACCB). The park is open year-round, and camping is available from April 15 to Nov. 15.

The park was started in 1965 with 40 acres of timber and 20 acres that were developed into a recreation area, but by 1976 the park increased in size by 385 acres due to the Troublesome Creek Watershed Project when two dams were built along Troublesome Creek, creating the lake which is used for recreation and flood control.

The 77 acre lake is popular for fishing - there are channel catfish, crappies, blue gill, largemouth bass and carp and also has a 400 foot long beach, if your water recreation leans more towards swimming than fishing. For boating, boats are limited to electric motors only and there is a boat ramp available.

Hiking is available and you may catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife in the area - this spring over 300 pelicans made a stop at the lake.

The park also offers free kayaking and paddle boarding on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Programs are usually held between 3-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, near the East Shelter, weather permitting.

Currently there are three (A, B and C) campgrounds with more under construction. The sites range include full hook ups, electrical sites, modern restrooms and a shower house. Two new campground areas - D and E - will offer nine sites each, with 50 amp service and plans were to complete them this year. New playground equipment is in the planning stages and officials hope - if fund-raising is successful - to put in the new equipment next spring.

Just looking for good spot for a family picnic? The park has three shelter houses that can be reserved - one near the entrance of the park, with a playground and flush toilets near by. A Beach House shelter is located by the beach, and includes the main shower house and a fire place. The East Shelter House is near Campground C, close to the lake and some pit toilets. The shelter houses can be reserved by calling ACCB at 712-268-2762.

Find more information at Littlefield Recreation Area on Facebook, or call 712-268-2762.