Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Start Planning Your Brown County Trip Now

Since its inception in 2004 Brown County has grown to become one of the most well-known and most-visited mountain bike destinations in the Midwest. Each year it gets bigger and better, and this coming year will be no exception.

2011 will be an amazing year to take a trip to Brown County. Whether it will be your first visit or your hundredth, you're bound to have a blast and find something new. Five new miles of trail will be added to the trail system this year when the Green Valley Loop is completed. This will put total trail length within Brown County State Park at well over 30 miles.

There will certainly be no lack of mountain biking events at Brown County in 2011. The mountain bike trail system will play host to the state's largest cross country race, two time trial point-to-point races and the Midwest's premier Super D gravity event. In addition to racing, the park also plays host to one of the longest-running, largest and most popular women's mountain bike clinics in the United States. The season will wrap up with one of the most heavily attended and well-revered mountain bike weekends in the Midwest, the Brown County Breakdown.

If post-ride food and beer are your thing, the quaint, trailside town of Nashville will welcome you with open arms at the Big Woods Brewing Company, Pine Room Tavern and the Bushman Brewhouse. Even nearby Bloomington and Columbus are in on the act with Upland Brewing and Powerhouse Brewing serving up post-ride pints and grub about a thirty minute drive from the trail head.

The lodging in and around Brown County State Park is among the most diverse anywhere. The state park lodge offers ride-from-your-room convenience and a nice water park for the kids. If a historic, rustic bed-and-breakfast or cabin is your thing, there are dozens to choose from. Maybe you're more of a chain hotel kind-of-traveler? No problem. There is one in Nashville and plenty in nearby Columbus right off of the interstate. If roughing it or camping are more up your alley, there are camping options at the trailhead, in a modern campground with full hookups or in the remote back country.

The quantity of high-quality alternative riding options nearby has also grown dramatically. The trails at nearby Versailles State Park and French Lick Resort are arguably of the same quality of Brown County, yet at the same time they are subtly different and unique. It is now quite easy to string together a week's worth of riding in South-Central Indiana without much "windshield" time. Check out to put your trip together. You won't regret it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Insider's Ride Guide Published for Brown County

In the March, 2010 Annual Trails Issue of Bike magazine there is an "Insider's Guide to North America's Best Destinations". This article features insider's information on the ten best trail systems in North America. Although Brown County might not quite make a top ten list for best trails in North America, even Bike magazine agreed in its 2009 Annual Trails Issue that Brown County was in a list of the top 33, including a runner-up designation for Best Trail Network. Consequently, we thought it only proper that Brown County should receive the same treatment as the top ten. As Brown County becomes one of the most popular trail systems in the Midwest, folks are traveling long distances to come here. When mountain bikers travel long distances to a trail system they want to spend their time wisely when they get there. It's a waste of time to constantly be wondering which trails to ride, where to eat lunch or where to get a post-ride beer. For those folks that are going to drive, fly or hitchhike long hours to get here we put together our own Brown County Insider's Ride Guide. It's meant to be a compliment to the tons of other information that we have stashed on Isn't it about time for a road trip? Print out the Insider's Ride Guide and a trail map, pack the car and go!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More New Trail Coming in 2010!

Mountain bikers will be able to enjoy even more new singletrack trail in 2010 as Brown County State Park's mountain bike trail system continues to grow.

The new trail is being built by Spectrum Trail Designs. Spectrum is the same professional trail building company that designed and created the Walnut Trail, Limekiln Trail, Pine Loop and Schooner Trace Trail in Brown County State Park. Construction has already begun on a new loop that will be located west of the existing North Tower Loop (see trail map). Construction could be complete in the spring of 2010 if weather and trail building conditions are favorable this winter. The loop will be a beginner level trail of 3-5 miles in length that will have connecting intersections on North Tower Loop and Aynes Loop. The trail will be constructed by machine and finished by hand. It will have a similar flow as the very popular Limekiln Trail, but it will utilize more elevation change and be more remote from the main trailheads. It will feature open, grassy slopes with mature trees and some valleys and overlooks. Beginners will love the slightly wider trail tread, gentle slopes and stunning views. Advanced riders will enjoy long sight-lines and the signature Brown County "flow".

The project is being overseen and run by the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association, and it is being funded with money from the $250,000 State Trails Grant that the HMBA received in 2008. The State Trails Grant has also built new trails at O'Bannon Woods State Park, Harmonie State Park and Versailles State Park. When complete, the new trail will push the Brown County State Park mountain bike trail system to over 25 miles in length.

Since trail construction started in 2004, the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association has partnered with the Indiana DNR to make Brown County the Midwest's premiere mountain bike destination.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Schooner Factor

This is a game changer. Things will never be the same. Before and after. Whatever cliche you want to use, the new Schooner Trace expert trail at Brown County State Park is going to make a huge impact. Bike shops will sell bikes with more suspension. Locals will take their riding skills to a new level. Tall tales will be told. Pain will reign supreme. Bruises and scrapes will appear -- then shin guards. Who will be the first to clean the entire length of this beast?

Although almost all reviews of the mountain bike trail system at Brown County State Park have been glowing, many people have stated that the singletrack was so flowing that it lacked a high degree of technical challenge. Perhaps that was a fair statement. Until now. The 6 mile loop of Walnut Trail (Advanced Black Diamond) and Schooner Trace Trail (Expert Double Black Diamond) will challenge the best mountain bikers around, while at the same time retaining a nice touch of that famous Brown County flow. Those that can clean the rocks, dips, logs, bridges, narrow trail, ravines, drops, moss and switchbacks will notice that there's still a nice flow and rhythm hidden in there.

People are already asking, is it like Squirrel Gap Trail in Pisgah, NC? Is it like West Virginia with it's slick rocks and exposure? Is it reminiscent of this or that trail in Fruita, CO? Nope. It's pure Brown County through and through, but not like you've known in the past. Come ride it if you dare.

Thanks to Alex Stewart for the trail design and the photo!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The "Other" Trails in and Around Brown County

Back when there were absolutely no mountain bike trails in Brown County State Park (way back in 2003!) there was Nebo Ridge, Hickory Ridge, Valley Branch Retreat and Gnaw Bone Camp. Even without the trails in the state park the area had always been the best place in Indiana to get a mountain biking fix. All of those trails are still in existence, and they are still terrific to ride. Together with the trails in the state park there are now almost 150 miles of mountain bike trail within a short drive of downtown Nashville, Indiana.

Since the advent of the amazing trails in the state park, some of the other trails have taken a backseat to them. They are rougher to ride, less accessible and they lack the "polish" and "flow" of the state park trails. They are the yin to the state park's yang. They are everything that the trails in the state park are not. They provide a perfect compliment for the local rider or the out-of-town visitor. The Hoosier National Forest trails (Nebo and Hickory) provide a very remote backcountry experience and feeling that you just don't quite get at the state park.

This is fantastic for mountain biking tourism in the area. It means that visitors can have a wide variety of trail experiences during one visit. I recommend that a visit to the area of more than 2 days include one of these "alternate" rides. A perfect three days of riding would be Brown County State Park-Day 1, Nebo Ridge-Day 2, Brown County State Park-Day 3. If you're staying for a fourth day add Valley Branch or Gnaw Bone Camp, and you'll think you've landed in singletrack heaven. These "alternate" trails aren't for everybody. Your body and equipment have to be prepared. You have to have a sense of adventure, and a desire to get off the beaten path, but if you do, you will certainly be rewarded.

All of the info you need to plan your next mountain biking trip to Brown County can always be found at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What's The Best Way to Get An Epic Ride at BCSP?

Lots of things are conspiring to bring an absolute ton of mountain bikers to Brown County in the next week or so. The weather and trail conditions are nearly perfect. The DINO race is upcoming, and the 3-day holiday weekend is on deck. There are groups coming from Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and various other places. Over the last few days I've answered more than a few emails that have asked me what the best route is for an "epic" or long ride at BCSP. For kicks, here's how I answered the last guy who asked...

"All of the trails in one day is a big, big ride. I did it a couple of weeks ago and it took about 5.5 hours with a few leisurely stops here and there. You really can't miss no matter what direction you ride, but here's my new favorite route:

Park at Lower Shelter in the shade (leave the other suckers out in the sun on the "main" parking lot). Ride up the new Pine Loop (entrance is in the tall grass in the southwest corner of the "main" parking lot) for a fantastic, gentle warm-up climb. Take it to the North Tower Connector and then take that up to the North Tower Loop.

Go counter-clockwise on North Tower. This is a smoking downhill run!
When you get to the intersection where North Tower Loop meets itself, continue going around North Tower Loop counter-clockwise. This will bring you back around and then you'll get to do the great downhill run for the second time in 45 minutes. Fun!
When you get to the bottom head on over to the Aynes Loop and run that loop clockwise. You'll have a big 'ol climb of about a mile or so. At the top of the Aynes climb you'll stop and rest at the top where it crosses an old, grassy fire road.
When you continue on you will immediately come to a nice technical, sketchy, fast downhill run. The trail meanders (mostly down) to the "frog pond" intersection where Aynes Loop meets the infamous Hesitation Point Trail. Take HP Trail out to Hesitation Point (you'll know when you get there after the 2 mile climb to the top). After gawking at the great view, cross the road and take the technical Walnut Trail all the way to Hoosier's Nest Cabin (good place to rest and refill water). Continue on (trail changes to the super-flowy Limekiln Trail) out to the Rally Campground Parking lot. Turn around and retrace your steps all the way back to the "frog pond" intersection at the end of HP Trail (are you still smiling after the 2 mile downhill?). Take the Aynes Loop clockwise (left) downhill and back over to North Tower Loop. Go clockwise (straight) on North Tower up to North Tower Connector and back down to your car on a dirt-surf down.

This route only skips the Schooner Trace Trail. It's impressive, but it's not quite done, and it takes ~1 hour to go 3.5 miles. It's super, super technical. You can add it on the way back once you pass Hoosier's Nest Cabin and take it out to Upper Schooner Road, but be forewarned you will hike-a-bike some portions. You could also fall a long, long way down ravines.

Also, if you want to add more mileage towards the end of the ride just go the "long way" counter-clockwise back around Aynes or North Tower. If you do this you are officially my hero."