February arrives in Michigan with the hope for Spring, but winter typically holds us in its clutches for longer than we would like…especially for biker types. Not in the mood to wait, Josh and I drove five hours south to Nashville, Indiana, in search of Spring and mountain bike trails.
The other Nashville, the Indiana variety, is a quick hour south of Indy, home to Brown County State Park and almost 40 miles of mountain bike trail, designated an IMBA bronze-level ride center in 2015. It’s Indiana’s largest state park, plus there are 21 miles for hikers. Then, add the quaint small town with its locally-owned restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries, just two miles from the trail system. It’s a winning combination: the trails, the town, and the people (townies).
Brown County Bikes
Pre or post-ride, stop at Brown County Bikes for gear, service, and trail updates. The crew at BCB will hook you up with trail suggestions, group ride info, and if you’re lucky, they will pour you a pint of Strawberry Blonde Ale while you shop around. Bonus, as a woman-owned shop, they carry plenty of gear specific to us girls who come in all shapes and sizes. If you want to try an e-bike experience, they can set you up with rental bikes too. A great source for insights on all things mountain bike Brown County including professional instruction for all ages.
Brown Co. State Park (Mountain Bike Brown County)
Some folks call this area the Little Smokies, with elevation in spots over 1000 feet. Downhillers take note at Hesitation Point, where the epic vista extends for many miles. Weed Patch and Hobbs Hollow provide miles of descending drama and whoop-inducing fun, plus the new Gnaw Bone black trail serves up a dose of steep drops and ridgeline riding.
What I dig about this trail system is the variety: it features super fun and flowy, easy-to-intermediate trails (Limekiln loop) that can lead to more technical rolls on Walnut or Bobcat. Then, feeling frisky, tackle Schooner Trace built for the expert and experienced rider. Besides the state park, you can connect to nearby Yellowwood Forest via the Ten O’Clock Line to tackle more miles.
I love this time of year….Spring riding is euphoric; my legs were starting to wake up just like the 1000s of frogs who alerted us with their expressive peeps at several trailside ponds. We splashed across stream crossings and took a break at the Hoosiers Nest in the park for our traditional PBJ wraps. I relished some time in the sun with temperatures pushing into the 60s.
BC Barn Burner (Stay-n-Play Nashville, IN)
After our warm-up ride, Josh and I headed into town to check in to our home base, the BC Barn Burner. With a name like the Barn Burner, something exciting is indeed inside the walls. We were excited to introduce first-timers Russell and Angie to Nashville. Conveniently, the Barn Burner is connected to Brown County Bikes. The impressive building houses four rental units, an idyllic rooftop patio, and an event space for groups. We settled into 2-south on the main floor, a lovely two-bedroom with a stocked kitchen and melt-into pillows and bedding. The moment you walk in, the décor and details stand out. The owners combined handcrafted wood and original elements with modern touches to create a delightful ambiance. It’s a great fit in historic Nashville.
Nosh in Nashville
In between mountain biking or a run (Angie was the runner in the group), we relaxed by the rooftop patio fire with a glass of wine. The Barn Burner location is right downtown, and an easy walk to grab coffee, peanut butter fudge, or a meal at the historic Ferguson House Bistro. It was Fat Tuesday during our visit, so we enjoyed a home-cooked seafood boil chocked full of shrimp, sausage, potato chunks, and crayfish in a delightful spicy broth. Admission: we had no idea how to eat crayfish, so we learned how to pinch the head off, find the meat in the tail and then suck the juice out of the beady-eyed head.
During this messy process, we met the owner, Andi! We learned her father and family had owned the establishment for three generations. She pointed out the portrait of Allie Ferguson on the bar wall, the namesake and original proprietor. And all the artwork in the restaurant are hand-painted originals by her mother-in-law.
There was plenty of good grub, beer, and even some spirits on this trip. The local brewery, Quaff On, makes a delightful Strawberry Blonde Ale, and we got a sneak peek of the “next on tap” Espresso Blonde from the brewers. Quaff On beers are served locally at Big Woods Pizza in downtown Nashville and the Hard Truth Distillery and restaurant. We fit in dinner at Hard Truth’s expansive restaurant situated on 300 + hilly acres. Our crew noshed on grilled portobellos, burgers, and roasted brussels. I added a Busted Knuckle porter, followed by a taste of their award-winning distillery gem, the cinnamon vodka. I’d also give the rye whiskey an extremely high grade.
The above-average temperatures continued; Josh, Russell, and I met up with Kate and Danielle from BC Bikes for a group ride and tour of the trail system. The frog peepers returned while we took turns following our enthusiastic tour guides. It was evident that everyone was stoked to be in the saddle; there were plenty of fun hoggin’ whoops as we launched over jumps, tabletops, and rock kickers. We ripped’ down my favorite Weed Patch again and occasionally stopped for feature photos and tips at intersections. Plus, rolling new trails is always fun; Westgate connector led us to the newly built Gnaw Bone. At the top, an earth mover sat patiently next to piles of layered rocks, waiting to be placed along the downhill-only track.
The trails are ready, and Spring is here. There’s no need to wait; it’s time to mountain bike Brown County, in the other Nashville!