Backbone State Park was dedicated in 1920. It was Iowa's first state park and remains one of the most geographically unique. Backbone is named for the steep and narrow ridge of bedrock cut by a loop of the Maquoketa River and forming the highest point in northeast Iowa - the Devil's Backbone. If you enjoy bicycling, boating, camping, climbing, fishing, hiking, picknicking or if you want to take a walk back in time to the days of the Civilian Conservation Corps, this is the place for you.
Take some time to investigate the unique masonry work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), including dams on the Maquoketa River forming Backbone Lake, a cluster of rustic family cabins, beach building and boat house, an auditorium, bridges, roads, picnic shelters, restrooms and trails. In addition, take a nostalgic walk back in time by visiting the CCC Museum located just within the park's west gate. The museum is open on weekends, Memorial Day through Labor Day and by special arrangement through the park office.
While visiting, take advantage of the rugged and winding 21-mile multi-use trail system. During warmer weather, hike along twisted and windblown cedars and up rough, rocky staircases. In the winter, take advantage of the exclusive snowmobiling and /or cross-country skiing opportunities the trails offer.
If mountain biking is your pleasure, the designated trails of Barred Owl, Bluebird, East Lake and West Lake offer a robust trek through picturesque natural beauty.
Carpooling from Cedar Rapids: For those who would like to carpool from the Cedar Rapids area, let's meet at the Walmart in Marion on the Highway 151/13 intersection. Please arrive between 7:00 and 7:25 am, so we can promptly leave by 7:30 am. It is a 54 drive from this location. We will meet at the Walmart parking lot directly across from McDonald's.
Carpooling from Iowa City: For those who would like to carpool from the Iowa City area, please meet at the IHOP in Coralville. Please arrive between 6:30 am and 6:55 am so you can promptly leave by 7:00 am. It is a 1.50 hour drive from this location.
If the Iowa City carpooling team would like to carpool and/or caravan with the Cedar Rapids team, please meet at the Walmart in Marion no later than 7:25 am.
For directions to Backbone, please use mapquest.com, your Garmin or your smartphone.
We will meet at the Park Office at 8:30 am, which is located through the East Gate. I'm attaching a map of the park which is specific to where we need to go: http://www.iowadnr.gov/portals/idnr/uploads/parks/parkmaps/backbonemap.pdf.
Weather: As of August 19th, the temperature for Saturday will be 89 degrees with sunny skies. Humid Iowa weather is a given.
Essentials: Be sure to bring the following gear: Water Bottles (Preferably 2 containers); Hiking Shoes; Secondary Shoes to change into after the hike; Comfortable Clothing to wear on the hike, Backpack or Fanny Pack, Camera, Snacks for before/during/after hike, and a Compass. Also bring bug spray (one that preferably repels misquotes, ticks, gnats, etc. If you have seasonal allergies, please make sure you check the status on them for this week/on Saturday so you are prepared.
If you have a dog that you plan on bringing to the hike, please make sure it is on a leash of 6 feet in length (per DNR Regulations).
Timetable: "The plan is to make one lap around the lake. An 8 mile hike." Per Roger.
Trails: This hike will be like Palisades-Kepler...mild/moderate difficulty.