Brown County State Park’s mountain bike trails have won the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s honor of offering enthusiasts an “epic” ride.
Four other trails were honored internationally this year with the same designation.
Overall, IMBA’s list now includes 51 destinations in the United States, four in Canada, and one each in Italy and Wales. The organization started the program in 2000.
“If you are a mountain biker, this is your bucket list,” says IMBA’s website. “Every single one of the mountain bike trails listed on this page (http://www.imba.com/epics) will blow your mind. Guaranteed.”
IMBA’s description of Brown County explains why its trails warrant the recognition.
“This is flowing singletrack at its best, built in one of the largest contiguous hardwood forests east of the Mississippi River. The trail designers used every bit of the 600 feet of elevation change available to create five independent loops and three connector trails. Difficulty ranges from a beginner-friendly loop to black diamond fare. Expect to drop into valleys and creek crossings before climbing to overlooks with vistas of the surrounding hills. The hardy clay soil allows for sculpted turns and features — get ready to carve, climb and do it again.”
Brown County State Park mountain bike trails are the only Indiana trails on the list. Michigan, with two trails, and Ohio, with one, are the only border states listed.
The Brown County State Park mountain bike trails were built and are maintained by volunteers from the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association (hmba.org). HMBA president Paul Arlinghaus says the group has had the epic designation as a goal for a long time.
“Ten years ago if you lived in Indiana and wanted to mountain bike you had to travel somewhere else,” Arlinghaus said. “This (honor) celebrates the success we’ve had not only for those around here but also shows that it’s worthwhile for others to travel here to ride.”
IMBA communications director Mark Eller says that compilation of epics originally focused on backcountry rides, then broadened. The creation of other categories this year allowed the focus to go back to the original idea.
Although a state park may not fit some people’s idea of epic in terms of “backcountry,” Eller says Brown County does.
“There is a consistent feeling of being able to lose yourself in the woods, he said. “The rider experience is a backcountry experience.”
Although Brown County offers trails suited for beginners, the IMBA honor is for the park’s more challenging trails.
“We try to find trails that give people high bars to shoot for,” Eller said.
Other trails listed as epics this year were Kerr Scott Trails in North Carolina; Mountain Hero in Yukon, Canada; Rattling Creek in Pennsylvania; and the W2 Trail in Wales.
IMBA posts an online form to get annual nominations for the epic list. Once a trail is nominated, IMBA depends on its network of clubs and field experts to judge which trails get honored. Eller says IMBA gets 40 to 50 nominations a year.
For more information, see the websites above and the state parks website, stateparks.IN.gov/2988.htm.
Brown County State Park is at 1450 SR46 E in Nashville, 47448. Gate admission is $5 per in-state car and $7 per out-of-state car.