Indiana isn’t exactly the first state that comes to mind when you’re talking about the country’s best mountain biking. That’s in part due to its topography.
Although Indiana has its hilly parts, it’s certainly not a state you would call mountainous. That said, this state certainly takes advantage of what elevation it does have to offer some pretty impressive trails.
Much of the state’s mountain biking trails are located in its hilly mid section including a cluster of MTB trails in the central part of the state near Bloomington. One highlight is Brown County, which features flowy trail with just enough moderate climbs to make things interesting.
Head north to the shores of Lake Michigan and you’ll find the Outback Trail, which features a mix of trails for beginners and experienced riders alike, and Rum Village, with its mix of beginner and intermediate singletrack.
In the eastern part of the state, near Terre Haute, is one of the more established trail systems not just in Indiana, but the entire midwest, Griffin Bike Park.
And to the east, there are 12 impressive miles of well maintained singletrack at Versailles State Park.
Here are 10 of the best mountain bike trails in Indiana.
1. Town Run Trail Park, Fishers
Located in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers, Town Run Trail is probably the most popular MTB trail in Indiana, both with natives and out-of-towners. It’s just technical enough to pique the interest of more experienced cyclists while presenting a thrilling challenge to new riders.
The whole trail is one continuous flow, with plenty of rolling straight sections broken up by short climbs and wooden wall rides and ramps. For those in need of something more complicated, there’s a short segment called Tetanus Hill where moderate technical terrain can be ridden.
Perhaps the biggest draw of Town Run is the levee across the White River, where exciting drops off of the earthen structure can make the fast, fun ride the perfect city MTB experience.
2. Brown County State Park, Nashville
One of several excellent trails in the small town of Nashville, Brown County Park was purpose-built by local MTB riders. It’s become something of a dark horse in mountain biking, its miles of flowy track over challenging terrain making it a draw to riders from all over.
Both you and your bike will need to be in good condition to tackle this ride, since it will test your endurance through rolling woodland technicals. The singletrack trail includes climbs, berms, dense trees, switchbacks, and rock gardens.
Brown County is home to Indiana’s largest state park, positioned between Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati. It’s also the site of one of Indiana’s most popular and well-known elevations, Hesitation Point.
The fresh green woodlands and the remains of old Civilian Conservation Corps structures make it as visually entertaining as it is physically challenging.
3. Outback Trail System at Imagination Glen, Portage
Located just east of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan, Portage is perfectly positioned for riders from that city and the surrounding areas, including nearby South Bend.
It features one of the best, most challenging technical trails in the area, the Outback Trail, split into two sections of singletrack over 9 miles of tight switchbacks, rolling hills, and varied views.
The west side of the trail is designed for beginners or intermediately experienced riders, while the east side is for veteran riders only. Experienced riders can ride the whole thing as a loop, using the beginner track as a warmup for the sharp turns, thrilling drops, and calf-busting climbs on the tougher section.
4. Buffalo Trace, French Lick
Named for the buffalo trace which once ran through the area, this trail presents a moderate challenge whichever direction you ride it in, peaking in almost exactly the middle.
A steady singletrack with easy tread, riders can expect a workout without being exhausted, and experienced cyclists will top the rise in the center quickly before getting to enjoy the breezy descent. There aren’t too many technical surprises on this trail, but for those in need of more of a workout there’s a turn-off onto the neighboring Waterfall Trail.
Featuring rock overhangs on the western foot of Mount Airie, expect to see wildlife including painted box turtles and whitetail, and quiet streams hidden among mossy woodlands.
5. Expert Loop, Anderson
The name says it all.
This loop of tight singletrack is the toughest the Rangeline Nature Preserve has to offer, going in strictly one direction through some of the most pristine nature just outside of Indianapolis.
The first mile and a half, shared with the nearby beginner and intermediate loops, can be a good way to get the blood pumping and the legs warmed up before hitting the main attraction. Along the way, riders will have to navigate through elevated trails, skinnies, drops, logs, jumps, and some tight switchbacks.
The second half of the trail is pretty straightforward, composed of older lengths of XC track which will nonetheless require some endurance and attentiveness to glide through steep downhills.
6. O'Bannon Woods State Park, Corydon
Located just a half hour drive away from downtown Louisville, Corydon sits at the southeastern edge of Harrison-Crawford State Forest, where a wide selection of MTB trails can be found.
The region is famed among local riders for its ravines and rugged forest terrain.
The full O’Bannon Woods loop combines all of five area trails for a total length of over 17 miles of singletrack. Setting out through rock gardens, you’ll soon climb up to the top of Breeden Ridge, the trail’s high point.
After that, riders will have to pick their way through creek crossings, berms, switchbacks, and a series of climbs and short descents through ravines and past an overlook point above the Blue River.
7. The Adventure Hiking Trail Loop, Corydon
The Adventure is an accurate name for a trail that combines both some of the toughest mountain bike terrain in the state with scenic views of Indiana’s physical history.
Overlooking a bend in the Ohio River, the trail follows a largely circular loop in the backcountry between several small settlements in the area. The trail receives little maintenance, so riders can expect to encounter tough rocky climbs, fallen trees and logs, and tricky ruts and ravines.
After following a series of ridges and climbs, riders will reach a limestone overhang with excellent views of Indian Creek. The trail then goes through some steep inclines and descents before coming to the Old Homestead site, a historic cabin.
Finally, it ends with a twisting descent along the very edge of Potato Run Creek before a technical path back to the trailhead.
8. Rum Village, South Bend
Although many of Indiana’s most appealing MTB trails are to be found in the state’s forests, city dwellers don’t necessarily have to travel far for a ride.
This singletrack trail has some brisk inclines and descents, with more than a few flows and tight turns. Starting off with easier portions, the trail then turns more technical as you progress to the second half. Expect plenty of rolling flows along the way.
Rum Village is just on the rim of downtown South Bend, but you’d never know it from the wildlife. The mixed-deciduous forest of beech, oak, and maple, some well over 200 years old, is home to gorgeous wildflowers as well as deer, coyotes, foxes, and dozens of species of birds.
9. Versailles State Park Outer Loop, Versailles
Located due west of Cincinnati, Versailles is Indiana’s second largest state park.
It’s also one of the most storied areas of the state, being the site of minor combat in the Civil War as well as one of the Civilian Conservation Corps’s premier development efforts in the ‘30s.
Much of the trail itself skirts along the edge of bluffs overlooking fairly deep valleys and ravines. The path will drop down into these low spots here and there, adding a decent challenge with the added climbing.
Throughout, rocks, roots, technicals, and plenty of demanding sharp turns keep the ride lively without becoming overpowering for newer riders. After a final, demanding climb up Shadow Run, you can enjoy a swift, breezy downhill before coming full circle.
10. Griffin Bike Park Lake Loop, Farmersburg
This trail around Terre Haute’s Stryker Lake is part of a wider network of trails ranging in difficulty from easy to legendarily difficult. For those who are new to MTB, in search of a relaxing beautiful ride, or just a pleasant warmup, there’s the Lake Loop.
It starts out with a surprisingly brisk ride through the Seven Fingers, a series of tight hairpin switchbacks, before making a sharp right to lead riders around the edge of the long, thin lake.
Mostly downhill with a couple of swift flows, riders will be able to enjoy views of the water along most of the ride without having to worry too much about tackling the trickier bits found elsewhere in Griffin Park. There are also a handful of wooden ramps and duckboards to shake things up here and there.