Situated in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions of the U.S., Indiana is a relatively small yet populous state with a giant reputation for outdoor recreation, particularly when it comes to the sport of mountain biking. The “Hoosier State,” as it is known, features a variety of terrains at varying altitudes and some of the best trails in the northern Midwest—trails which are built for brave cycling enthusiasts looking to test the limits of speed and endurance. In the following article we will focus on/highlight five of the most popular trails in the state and provide a brief description of each trail.
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Brown County Park
Located in the small town of Nashville in the county of the same name, Brown County Park offers a splendid trail system that was designed and built by local mountain bikers. With miles upon miles of flowing track, charming vistas and marvelous terrain, Brown County Park has rapidly become a world-class destination for the sport of mountain biking.
Consisting primarily of rolling single track, the smoothly packed trail system at Brown County Park features moderate climbs, berms, steep switchbacks, tight trees, rock gardens and more—aspects that in March 2009 prompted Bike magazine to name Brown County “one of the best 33 trail systems in North America.”
The Brown County mountain bike trail is located entirely within the state park, which is the largest state park in Indiana. Situated just a short hop from the major metropolitan areas of Indianapolis, Louisville and Cincinnati, the 28-mile trail system at Brown County Park is a must-visit for mountain biking enthusiasts of every skill level.
Town Run Trail Park
Town Run Trail Park, located in the large city of Indianapolis, is the most oft-ridden trail in the beautiful state of Indiana. Consisting of a fun eight-mile loop, the trail is made up of flowing track, brief climbs and thrilling drops over an earthen levee.
The Town Run Trail features some of the best single track in the state and a ride that offers few breaks, one that continuously winds its way through the scenic White River valley. The manageable climbs, pedal-friendly descents and fun obstacles are perfect for the beginner to intermediate rider—a trail that is designed to prepare off-road cyclists for more advanced tracks.
Although Town Run Trail Park recently lost its premier northern trail section (to a strip mall), the remainder of the course continues to draw hundreds of riders each year, largely because the rest of the trail has been adopted as a city park that is now protected from further development.
Prairie Creek Reservoir
Located in the city of Muncie, Indiana, the Prairie Creek Reservoir offers a system of crisscrossing mountain biking trails that is ideal for intermediate to advanced riders. Popular for its rough and uneven terrain and daring technical sections, the Prairie Creek Reservoir trail is the perfect track for those seeking to hone and fine-tune their bike-handling skills.
The Prairie Creek Reservoir trail, which consists of both single track and double track, is known as a flatlander course, meaning there are very few climbs, but rather an abundance of short, steep pitches that can be difficult to master. Covering five miles in total distance, the trail is typically ridden as a loop and is rated moderate in terms of difficulty.
Outback Trail at Imagination Glenn
The Outback Trail at Imagination Glenn is a varied trail system that is located in the small town of Portage, Indiana. Measuring a total of 9.2 miles in length, the trail consists of a series of tight switchbacks, hills and plenty of variety, particularly on the east side of the trail, where a popular mountain biking race takes place twice a year.
The Outback Trail is split into two sections: the west side of the trail is designed for novice riders, while the east or ‘dark side’ of the course is intended for experienced riders only. Normally ridden as a loop, the trail consists of plenty of twists and turns, quick and tough climbs and thrilling drop offs.
The route commences at the westernmost trailhead and proceeds towards McCool across the river to the advanced track of the east side. Here expert riders will feel right at home on a section of track that features an ideal combination of pulse-pounding climbs and freefall single track excitement, as riders are forced to negotiate a series of obstacles as they make their way to the valley floor.
Gnaw Bone Camp
Many of Indiana’s most exceptional mountain bike riders “cut their teeth” at the Gnaw Bone Camp, one of the oldest trail systems in the state. Located in the town of Nashville, Gnaw Bone Camp is a private-property course of challenging single track measuring a total of 25 miles in length. The trail consists of moderate climbs and fast descents that are peppered with technical obstacles throughout, all leading to a thrilling finale that will make riders want to ride the loop again and again.
Although definitely not recommended for beginners or the faint of heart, the Gnaw Bone Camp trail is the perfect route for intermediate to advanced riders looking to test their unique set of skills in an environment that was designed specifically for off-road cycling.
In addition to the great trail system, the Gnaw Bone Camp offers some of the most picturesque vistas Indiana has to offer and plenty of the great park amenities that mountain bikers love.
image credit:Hoosier Mountain Bike Association