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Brown County Mountain Bike Trails
Nashville, Indiana, USA

"Riding High in Indiana's Hill Country"

Indianapolis Star
June 28, 2008
by Russ Pulliam
Southern Indiana might not seem like an obvious mountain biking destination. After all, where are the mountains?

Such technicalities haven't deterred Jonathan Juillerat and others from dreaming about mountain bikers flocking to the gentle hills of Southern Indiana.

In fact, those dreams are closer to reality with the opening of several state-of-the-art trails in Brown County State Park.

"You have to drive six hours to get anything approaching the quality of trails in Brown County State Park," said Juillerat, advocacy director for the Indiana Mountain Biking Association. "You have to go as far as eastern Kentucky, western North Carolina or northern Michigan."

As a sport, the current state of mountain biking is similar to golf in the United States a hundred years ago. Trails are often hard to find and poorly marked. Volunteers do most of the upkeep.

Dedicated bikers look for new and challenging trails, the way golfers will travel to play a well-ranked course. Put good trails in a place like Brown County State Park, and riders will flock to the region through online recommendations.

Mountain biking doesn't require mountains. Rolling hills are fine, especially for amateur riders. A 15-mile ride with reasonable inclines and descents is as challenging as 40 miles on a paved trail.

The Brown County trails already are attracting out-of-state visitors. Juillerat receives regular e-mail queries about the new trails, especially from Chicago-area riders.

"Best damn trails I've ever ridden," commented a Chicago-area visitor on a recent blog. "Throw in the occasional rock garden and flowing grade reversals and some 300-plus foot climbs and it's pure heaven."

Several other good trails -- harder to find but worth the trouble -- already are available in the region: Nebo Ridge, Hickory Ridge, Valley Branch and Gnaw Bone Camp.

Serious bikers go to two key destinations: the Asheville, N.C., area; and Moab, Utah. But Juillerat sees Indiana leading the Midwest. Northern Michigan has good trails but takes more time to reach.

"There's already more than 120 legal miles of mountain biking trail within a half-hour drive of Nashville in Brown County," Juillerat said. "There's potential for another 50 to 100 miles."

Versailles State Park has its own newly designed and built trails. O'Bannon Woods State Park in Harrison County also is attractive to riders. "O'Bannon will become more popular than Brown County," Juillerat said. "The terrain is more interesting -- lots of rock, like West Virginia, the Ohio River, the sinkholes, two creeks cutting through the woods."

Juillerat hopes top state officials take notice. Indiana is ahead of its Midwest competitors already and may have national potential with a few more well-crafted trails in those, uh, "mountains."