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."