What better way to make lemonade out of lemons than hitting Brown County trails for the first time during a work trip to the Indianapolis area. I had been wanting to go for years, and with a “free” rental car and hotel, there was no better time.
To say I was excited on the way to the park is an understatement. I was planning to attempt the IMBA Epic ride consisting of an out and back route of 28 miles covering all the trails except Schooner Trace. I wanted to try and take advantage of the day by seeing as much as possible.
My excitement soon turned to sweat and exertion as I ascended into the first trails – their “beginner” designation alerted me of the challenges to come. Much of the trails are bench cut into the scenic surrounding hills. Virtually any place on the trail is a good stopping point for pictures and enjoying the view.
Although much of the trail is smooth and flowy, roots and rocks are prevalent and keep you on your toes. One root I came across was actually a decent sized snake enjoying the trail as well. In my mind I had bunny hopped the snake, in actuality I hiked my bike around him just in case.
Once complete with the northern trails of the park, you get spit out onto Hesitation Point. I wish I had more time here to eat a packed lunch and take a nap.
Progressing further south, I soon realized Schooner Trace was not the only technical portion as Walnut Trail soundly trounced me. Of course there were a few ultra-fit bikers in full kit on single speed / full rigid rigs easily riding up and over the rock outcroppings I was having difficulty walking. After my hike, I finished up on Limekiln Trail and pointed myself back north. Wisely I skipped Walnut on the way back and took the road to Hesitation point to begin on the trails again.
Upon reaching the Ayens Trail connector, exhaustion began to set in. It would be dark in an hour, however I decided to go up into Green Valley Trail anyway. Although my legs were near useless at this point, I realized Green Valley was probably my favorite section of the day.
Lucky for me the last 3 miles was mostly downhill as I was spent, and the sun had long since disappeared. When I emerging from the woods, I was the only car left, rightly so since it was basically dark at this point.
Mr. Samsung says I did achieve 28 miles and 2800ft of elevation over 4 hours, although not exactly on the full Epic route. I learned next time I need to budget more time to stop and enjoy the surroundings. Also, I may just stick to the north side trails as you can easily ride all day just on that portion of the trail system. Brown County is just as great as promised, just make sure to prepare your legs for the adventure.
– Steve Deutch