What does a girl do when crappy weather comes calling on a three day weekend? Head to Brown County State Park in southern Indiana. Easy to get to, the six-hour trip (from Madison) is well worth it for a few days of riding in the woods! The park offers three campgrounds, an Olympic-sized pool, two lakes for paddling, towers to climb, a lodge with a restaurant and indoor waterpark, scenic vistas, and over 35 miles of SWEET, SWEET SINGLETRACK. (Turns out, it's an IMBA Ride Center).
We left a rainy 45 degree Madison on Friday morning. We watched the temperature climb and the weather clear as we headed south -- when we arrived it was 85 and sunny. Yay! We took the afternoon to set up camp and get enough wood for our stay. Once chores were done, we headed out for a pre-dinner ride.
All but one of the trails are two-way, so we did a connecting out and back on the Limekiln (2.4m/beginner) and Walnut (2.1m/advanced) trails from the campground. Both had lots of fun elevation changes and a couple of neat wooden features - both also had muddy patches, which the locals said would dry up bun Saturday. There were a few hike-a-bike moments when larger rocks and roots on the Walnut Trail were presented on an ascent. All of the descending more than made up for it.
After a hearty breakfast, on Saturday morning we rode singletrack + the road down to the North Gate trailhead to start our day. We got some serious speed as we barreled down the road! And of course, what goes down must come up...our day would include a lot of elevation change and eventual climb back up to the campground.
On Saturday night we had dinner at the lodge (buffet!), walked some towers, and then did the pretty mile+ walk around Ogle Lake to stretch our legs. We enjoyed the sunset at Hesitation Point before heading back to camp for a fire and an early bed time.
What you need to know: All trails except Hobbs Hollow (5.2m/expert) are two way; we rode many both ways, which was really fun. Campgrounds are densely sited - Taylor Ridge (where we were) is the most wooded. No swimming in the lakes, but there’s a pool. We drove our car to the lodge and to Ogle Lake. The lodge restaurant has a kickass breakfast buffet, which we did on Sunday morning on our way out of town...it kept us satisfied the entire trip home.
Overall, Brown County State Park is totally worth the drive for a three day weekend and a great way to extend the season when Wisconsin weather doesn’t cooperate.