Backbone is a beautiful place for a family picnic. Several open shelters and the auditorium may be reserved online through the park reservation system. Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the stone lodge overlooking the lake may be rented for a number of events including family reunions, weddings and other large gatherings. The lodge may be rented online at park reservation system. Backbone Concessions handles the lodge operation. Backbone has 21 miles of hiking and multi-use trails. Visitors can hike along trails winding through old twisted and windblown cedars and up rough, rocky staircases to one of the highest points in northeast Iowa, the "Devil's Backbone."

Amazing views for such an easy short trail!

9 months ago

Beautiful and peaceful in the spring. A lot of opportunities to go off the main trail and explore.

Great Iowa hike!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

An excellent winter hike if you don't mind the often ice-packed trails. Hiking in the winter is a completely different experience.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

great hike with fall colors!

trail running
Thursday, October 06, 2016

Nice trail with a variety of terrains and features. Would definitely do it again.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Fun short hike for the whole family that doesn't experience huge elevation gains but offers great views in a nice wooded savannah.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I arrived after a heavy rain and the area flooded. Many of the scenic areas were not accessible. I hiked parts of the lake trail and the backbone trail. Park did have nice campgrounds.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

We parked at the south end of the lake and hiked up the east lake trail. This trail follows the lake and provides a variety of geographic features, including rock formations. At the north end we picked up the backbone trail. The views were stunning. There is also a large crevasse that is safe to climb down. My children loved this. We then hiked a connecting trail to a campground where we picked up the west lake trail. The west lake trail is mostly a mowed path through prairie and woods. Compared to the rest of the trails it is not so exciting.

mountain biking
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Biked the East and West Lake trails. This is a fairly technical trail on a bike. The east runs right next to the lake. At the end catch the road, head down the hairpin curve to the "flats". Continue straight and climb to the west Park entrance and right before you exit the park take a left into Twin Pines campground and there you can pick up the West Lake Trail. This side of the trail is difficult. Lots of steep hills and loose gravel and large rock. Definitely pushed us! Total loop was about 7 miles.

Lots of beautiful scenery!

Friday, April 08, 2016

Cool windy April day with a couple snow showers. My first visit to this terrific place. Hepatica was flowering, small group of white breasted nuthatches near the cave.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Daughter and I had a great hike and what a wonderful and peaceful view

Monday, January 04, 2016

Great views of Fall colors and even spotted two bald eagles.

rock climbing
Friday, August 14, 2015

Some of the most amazing views, hiking, and climbing in Iowa! Loved the Backbone Trail and all the climbing you can do here. Thanks to 'Roscoe' for showing us the 'Rabbit Hole' that lead us to some hidden places to climb up and through the beautiful bluffs! Recommended for a few hours of hiking and climbing fun.

nature trips
Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The slopes are great for climbing and the air is refreshing here! I found some really great reviews of the park at, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is new to exploring our beautiful state parks!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

rented a cabin in the first week of March and felt like I had the park to myself. They had a lot of snow a few days earlier which made it a lot of fun following animal tracks, mainly deer.
I walked around the south end and took the west lake trail seeing lots of turkeys, eagles, and deer. Took the six pine trail to the south flats shelter where I stopped for lunch. I then caught the east lake trail and found the views awesome. Coyotes were very loud a few times. It took me about six hours and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Completed a lake loop hike this weekend, starting from the East Lake/Backbone Trailhead parking area. Great hike with some nice elevation and nice views. Was able to make a loop by walking through the grassy/beach area on the south tip of the lake, and hooking back up with the West Lake Trail. Not a ton of people on West Lake at all, even though it was Labor Day! A short jog through the campground brought me to the Six Pines Trail, which was just a short trail. A bit rugged in spots! The final leg was just about 1/2 mile on the road back to the parking area. Wish I could make a true loop out of it on trails and be able to skip the road, but it was great as is. Restrooms at East Lake Trailhead, near the beach, and Six Pines Campground. First long hike with my dog.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Backbone Trail was stunning for the first 100 yards, or so, then it was flat until it looped around, thus this was a disappointing trail. The different trail heads were not well marked. This is probably nice for people in the area, but I won't drive an hour to go there again.

Load More