Trail Report: Riding Indiana’s Brown County State Park

From rugged and rocky to smooth, fast and buff singletrack

Travel
Drainage crossings are common in Brown County.

Drainage crossings are common in Brown County (click to enlarge).

Editor’s Note: Jordan Carr and co-author and photographer Leilani Bruntz are currently traveling the country spreading the gospel of mountain biking as the Subaru-IMBA Trail Care Crew. Along the way they get to explore some of the country’s best riding locales, and then share them with you in this reoccurring Mtbr Trail Report series. Follow Carr and Bruntz’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram, and let us know in the comments section below if you have additional beta about these great riding destinations. And be sure to check out their write-ups on Salida, Colorado, Oakridge, Oregon, Phoenix, Arizona, Marquette, Michigan, and Cable, Wisconsin.

Brown County State Park
 
The Scooner Trail takes advantage of the rocky landscape and integrates as much of the rock as possible to challenge riders (click to enlarge).

Situated just over an hour south of Indianapolis, Brown County State Park is covered in densely forested hillsides. Despite Indiana’s reputation as a flat state, the southern portion is surprisingly lumpy after glacial meltwater carved through what is now nicknamed the “Little Smokies.” As the biggest state park in Indiana, Brown County boasts 28 miles of purpose built singletrack (with more in the works).

The result of years of volunteer efforts by local IMBA Chapter, Hoosier Mountain Bike Association, the Brown County trail system has recently been designated an IMBA Silver Level Ride Center and is a prime example of how volunteer organizations are helping creating local community assets through strategic planning. Not only did the HMBA devote hundreds of hours to the effort, but they continue to be a vital player in the upkeep of the growing trail system.

In an effort to increase parks visitation, Indiana State Parks is developing high quality mountain bike’centric trail systems in partnership with local non-profit IMBA chapters. Brown County is one of the Hoosier state’s better-known MTB destinations, melding machine cut, roller coaster singletrack with the rock-laden hills. The diverse trail network offers a trail experience for riders of all ability levels, while the park’s modern amenities make it a great place to spend a few days.

Riding

Whether you’re seeking buff, wide-open trails or slow, technically challenging rock features, Brown County keeps riders of all abilities smiling between gasps of humid Midwestern air. Trails can be accessed from either the north or west entrances of the park, though beginning at the north entrance seems to be the most popular way to ride the system, as it ends with a descent back down to the car. Many loop options are available at Brown County, allowing for rides various lengths.

 If you have never ridden a trail system designed around mountain biking, do yourself a favor, and visit Brown County.

If you have never ridden a trail system designed around mountain biking, do yourself a favor, and visit Brown County (click to enlarge).

Riders who prefer smooth flowy trails with optional lines will enjoy Green Valley, while the Schooner trail features the most technically challenging riding in the park.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Brown County Park trail report »

About the author: Jordan Carr

Having spent more than half his life riding all types of bikes at almost every type of cycling event, Carr loves the freedom two-wheeled travel has brought to his life. Having spent many years behind the stand at a bike shop, he’s tested mountain bike products for a number of publications. Follow Carr's adventures as they travel the country promoting trails and mountain biking on Facebook and Instagram.


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  • Jeff Fetterer says:

    There are also several great places to eat right in Nashville 5 minutes from the park. Nashville is an artsy touristy town. Big Woods Brewing Co, The Pine Room and Casa del Sol are all great options right in Nashville.

    • Marne Fox-Barrow says:

      Thank you for mentioning Nashville! It is a great little downtown and even has some great food and beer options for post ride libations and nosh! There are also lodging options as well. I grew up frequenting Nashville in the summers with my family as a break from waterskiing and swimming at my grandparents cottage on Sweetwater Lake…fond memories.

  • mnewton says:

    They (park service) raised the admission fee to ride there.

    It will now cost you $9.00 per vehicle per day to ride there.

  • Shark says:

    Yep, lots of great places to eat & drink in Nashville. You can definitely have $9 worth of fun there. You won’t find the quality of trail like that anywhere else in Indiana. Easy stuff for the kids? yep Flow trail? Yep, chunky tech? yep.

  • Andy says:

    I love Brown County. I went up there 5 times this year. I live in louisville,ky so its like a hour and a half drive. Totally worth it .

  • Nate says:

    Where’s the mention of Brown County’s Bronze Ride Center status? The area wouldn’t have received the recognition without the options available in Nashville. Sure, Bloomington and Columbus are bigger, with more selection, but you absolutely should not automatically discount Nashville.

    Plus, any discussion of Brown County is remiss without mentioning the many other trail options outside the park proper. eXplore Brown County/Valley Branch Retreat, Gnaw Bone Camp, Yellowwood State Forest, and the nearby portion of Hoosier National Forest taken together offer more than double the amount of trail that the park itself offers, as well as opportunities for more rugged backcountry experiences that the more developed park doesn’t tend to offer.

    • Jordan says:

      Hey Nate.
      Thanks for the note. This is being added into the piece. We only spent a few days in the area and missed out on spending much time in Nashville. Thanks for the heads up though!
      -Jordan

  • julia says:

    …and just 1.5 hrs north, in Terre Haute IN, is an awesome new bike park, open now but still being built: https://griffinbikepark.com/ – Grand Opening, Oct 2016. 16+ miles of trails, competition level dual slalom track, dirt jump park, pump track, kids track, lots more.

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