A holy pilgrimage for any mountain biker
An epic ride
Brown County State Park is one of the few places I actually knew quite a bit about before I moved to the Midwest. This famed state park is well known to Hoosiers though has much greater fame in the mountain biking world as an Epic Ride. Attaining this legendary status by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) is the equivalent of a restaurant receiving three Michellin Stars. Denoting exceptionally well designed and maintained single track, Brown County lived up to the high standards of the award. I've ridden no less than a dozen current or formerly awarded rides and found that Brown County State Park fits in well. For those who chose to believe the Midwest lacks adventure and travel opportunities, here's a place where you can shed that ignorance!

Brown County, Indiana is simply magical. Its similar to Galena, Illinois or Baraboo, Wisconsin- not exactly tall in altitude though rugged terrain hides extensive outdoor adventure opportunities. Driving South from Indianapolis, the hills become taller and more numerous until reaching the town of Nashville, Indiana. This little town is actually quite cosmopolitan considering how far it is from any major center of population. Much of it's commerce centers around biking and autumn leaf-peepers (do they use that term outside of the Northeast?) 
Well maintained trails
I was practically shaking with excitement when I made it here. First I stopped for supplies at the stalwart supporter of the Hoosier mountain biking community- Hesitation Point Bike Shop. For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the kindly owner who must have spent 25 minutes orienting me to the area- a very neighborly gesture. Their trail map is an absolute essential though I would have loved to have finally purchased a full suspension bike. Another time I suppose!

Like many vetted mountain biking destinations, trails are rated like ski runs- Green circles are easy, Blue Squares are intermediate, Black Diamonds are hard, Double Black Diamonds are extremely hard. Also like ski trails, there's not a great deal of objectivity to ratings. I would say that most mountain biking destinations I've been to have trail ratings that are rated with respect to other trails in the area but not necessarily to one universal standard. 

Brown County really has a great assortment of rolling, easy-going trails and technically challenging single tracks. I like to have a bit of both in my mountain biking days. Though I love the twisty, switchback trails of a tough ride, I allowed my day to be percolated with easier trails. 

I started with North Tower Loop which is an easier, accessible trail in the northern section of the park. This rolls through dense woodland and is entirely shaded, making for a very pleasant ride. From there, Green Valley Trail was a bit more challenging though flowed nicely as well. Hesitation Point Connector starts with the fantastic view above and is quite rapid in descents- you will definitely forget you're in the Midwest. I found this trail to be the most fun of them all- its a very classic ride for the area.

Later on in my weekend, I did Aynes Loop ad Connector which are also flow-y intermediates that ran like a rollercoaster. There's a lot of elevation gain and loss on that trail - recommend that one in the early or midday, not at the end! 

For the really advanced riders, Walnut Trail and Schooner Trace Trail are not to be missed. I found the Walnut Trail,a black diamond, to be a bit out of reach for a casual rider like me. It was fun but I needed a much more technical bike to overcome the numerous treefalls and rocky drops. Schooner Trace is utterly vicious, hence the double diamond rating. The elevation profile on that trail is as serrated as a woodsaw. 

A few other sights in the park are worth mentioning as well. Above is the view from the terribly named Weed Patch Hill which is the tallest point in the park and all of Southern Indiana. Its a serene place with an old cabin and lawn. The fire tower is rickety but climbable with panoramic views. There are taller hills in Indiana, to be sure. None of them rise to the clear prominence that this one does- I would think Hoosier Hill would be a better name for it but that's reserved for the actual high point further northeast. 

The covered bridge would be of interest to any enthusiast at the north end of the park. Lastly, there are several more primitive campsites in the park that are worth staying in. Nights are temperate and starry in this park.

Nashville Indiana is you're quintessential small town of Indiana with a real up-and-coming gastronomy scene. No mountain biker would want to miss Big Woods Brewing which tends to draw an eclectic crowd of serious riders, IU students and classy urban Hoosiers. 

It was a wonderful weekend. I can't wait to come back, perhaps in the fall?