The fall colors at Backbone State Park was beautiful today. We hiked two trails - Backbone and Six Pines, explored the cave, visited the CCC Museum and traveled 1-minute north of the park for ice cream.
We found the DNR map difficult to follow, specifically in the area shown below. However, Iowa Parklands has a great map and I was kicking myself for not downloading it before we lost cell reception at the park.
Backbone Trail is a one-mile loop that follows a narrow ridgeline. My kids really liked this rocky trail, which had many places for them to explore.
I recommend bringing a headlamp to check out the cave. It's easy to get to, with a parking area next to the trail and just a short walk to the cave. We were surprised by how far back the cave goes, but be aware that the passage is not very high. At 4-feet tall, my kids had no problem but the adults in our group were all struggling to walk/crawl.
The Six Pines Trail is 0.68 mile each way and rated as the most difficult in the park. It's a good trail, but the Backbone Trail was definitely more fun. The trail forks at one point and leads to the CCC Museum.
We got lucky this weekend. The CCC Museum is typically only open on weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but they were open this afternoon. I recommend checking it out, if it happens to be open during your visit.
After hiking back on the Six Pines Trail, my kids played. The playground is small and surface is sand, but my kids had fun. There are restrooms very close to the playground.