I was riding some fairly famous singletrack out West when I came across a couple of locals on a long climb. At the top, we sat on some weathered logs in the shade and chatted for a few minutes. When I mentioned I was visiting from Indiana, I could see their slight, crooked smirks, followed by a barely stifled guffaw and the snide question, “Do you actually have mountain biking in Indiana?”
Yes, we have singletrack in the Hoosier state. Some damn good singletrack, thankyouverymuch. But Indiana isn’t alone in being underappreciated by the national mountain-bike community; there are dozens of other trail networks across the country that you’ll likely never see etched onto someone’s singletrack bucket list. Don’t get me wrong, I love high-profile places like Moab or Kingdom Trails, but there are plenty of other trails that are just as fun or thrilling that might be closer (and cheaper!) summer destinations. Most are IMBA Ride Centers, meaning the organization has recognized them as communities with trails for every level of rider (the bronze, silver, and gold levels denote how closely they get to the full list of requirements), as well as fun spots off the bike. And for that reason, they are all the more awesome. Here are six sweet singletrack spots that deserve more recognition.
Brown County State Park, Nashville, Indiana
Indiana might not have the mountains of Colorado or Utah, but Brown County State Park trails make excellent use of the rolling hills throughout the area. A bronze-level IMBA Ride Center, BCSP has a range of singletrack from beginner to the better-have-your-health-insurance-paid-up level (even world-class trials rider Jeff Lenosky couldn’t clean the locally infamous Schooner Trail on his first visit).
Most of the 35-plus miles of BCSP trails resemble a dirt rollercoaster: fast, flowy, and full of thrills. Aynes Loop and Green Valley offer miles of punchy climbs and fast descents. But the trails can be deceptively technical as well. Bobcat Bowl offers plenty of challenging tight switchbacks and tricky rock drops for mere mortals to test their skills. The climb up Hesitation Point forces riders to conquer numerous and increasingly longer limestone rock gardens. Trails leading out of the park and into the neighboring Yellowwood State Forest have a more backcountry feel, with multiple log crossings and large rocky obstacles. For quick service and bike rentals, Hesitation Point Bicycles is located just outside the park gate.
When to visit: October, when the autumn leaves reach their peak, fiery color.
Must-Ride Trail: Hobbs Hollow was just completed last year, but it’s quickly become a favorite among local riders and visitors alike. It’s impossible not to smile as you rocket through the bermed turns, building up speed, and launching yourself off tabletop after tabletop. Your tires spend almost as much time in the air as they do on the dirt.
Best Place for a Post-Ride Beer: Walk onto the patio of Big Woods brewpub in Nashville, IN and you’ll find hordes of dirty-faced mountain bikers refueling with pizza, pulled-pork nachos, and lots of beer. The brewery is best known for its Busted Knuckle dark ale, but the Blood Orange Yellow Dwarf wheat beer is ideal for hot summer days after day in the saddle.
Best Place to Get Some Sleep: The Brown County State Park campground is mere yards away from the Limekiln trailhead. Bring lights and get in a quick night ride before bed.