Ride Report- Brown County State Park

You may have heard some of the hype for the trails at Brown County State Park in Nashville, Indiana. Well, I'm here to tell you it's all true. Last month a few of us made the trip up there and spent the weekend riding. Currently, there are about 15 miles of trail. Due to their layout as a combination of loops and bi-directional trails, you can end up doing a ride of 23 miles with minimal riding of sections in both directions. Fortunately, these sections turn out to be some of the best parts!

BCSP is an interesting study in that the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association built them using a hybrid method with both paid and volunteer labor. A lot of the trails appear to have been cut with a machine, and the hardest bits, including some major benchcutting and rockwork-- of which there was a lot of, were done by hand.

If you've never been to this part of Indiana, you might be surprised by the terrain. While not having anything really high, it was in many ways similar to Matson Hill. In fact, we got some ideas that we hope can be incorporated into the new trails that will be built at Matson in the coming years.

Probably the most interesting things for me were the way the designers made use of the constantly undulating terrain, and how they used rock work to armor areas that were potential spots for sustainability problems, which at the same time also enhanced the fun factor of the trail. There were several curves through drainages that were armored with flat rocks tilted at angles which created berms that allowed a rider to just rail through it with minimal, if any braking. Several bermed climbing turns were so well done you hardly slowed down for climbing, and barely needed your brakes going down them.

Another highlight was the 2.1 mile climb up to Hesitation Point. Spreading around 300' of elevation gain over this distance made for a really enjoyable climb, in which you never really were at a flat spot, but constantly going up the whole time, but at such a grade that it almost never violated IMBA guidelines. There were several rock gardens on this climb, and they added some major fun to it, as well. It was even better going down!

The newest stuff there is more technical, and consists of fast, curvy trail interspersed with a lot of technical parts. They've constructed a lot of ramps and jumps out of rock along alternate lines on the main trail, so you've got your choice of what you can ride. The last mile or so of current trail is just fantastic. You just roll along a ridgeline, hardly having to pedal, swooping through drainages, hitting as many jumps as you can, until you reach the campground. It's enough to keep a smile on your face the whole day.

There's more construction going on, including a beginner loop near the North Trailhead, and an expert loop near the Southern one, so there's plenty of trail for everyone to ride. I would have included more pictures, but I hardly took any on this trip. I just didn't want to take the time to stop for any! Paraphrasing something Bob Crow said while we were there: "If you don't have fun on these trails, you probably ought to give up mountain biking."


indytriple said...

Hey there! We're glad that you were able to come for a visit and have an excellent time riding on our beautiful Southern Indiana trails and terrain. We just posted some new videos on browncountymountainbiking.com that you might be interested in. Under the "Photos and Videos" section on the right column of the page you'll find some spy footage of the brand new, amazing expert trail that is soon to open. Also, the featured video that is embedded on the right side of the page features some new footage of the Hesitation Point downhill run. It's a full ten minutes of super-fast, flowy, technical downhill singletrack. Finally, please come join us for what we think is one of the best mountain biking events in the country, the Brown County Breakdown. Live music, lots of food, and more importantly, LOTS of amazing trails.

Darin said...

Hey, I am from the S. IL area and went to school in the St. L. area. I have ridden many of your trails and now reside in IN. Come on over and see us any time!! We have some interesting things going on and are happy to share information with like minded MTBers. I still love Berryman, Chub, and Castlewood. Great memories there and I still ride them when I am in town. Keep up the good work and come see us more often (and bring Fat Tire since we can't get it here)! There is more good things to come!

crow said...

Excellent report Ron...so when are we going back?