Hoosier Mountain Bike Association

The Den => Find a Ride => Topic started by: Mahk on July 10, 2013, 11:35:07 AM

Title: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: Mahk on July 10, 2013, 11:35:07 AM
A friend and I would like to do a three day, two night trip to an area that has good mtb trails.  We live in Bloomington and are looking for someplace that is 2-4 hours away, north, south, east, or west. 
Any suggestions on a general destination and, even better, specific trails?
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: Raleighguy29 on July 10, 2013, 03:07:02 PM
I've heard good things about the trails at Kickapoo state park in Illinois.
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: Zinjanthropus on July 10, 2013, 03:40:59 PM
Hey Mahk,

A friend and I did just that last week. I tried to dodge the rain and changed from hitting French Lick to shooting westward to St Louis. We dodged some rain but not as much as I had hoped. Regardless, I enjoyed the trail time we had and would definitely go back to explore some more.

I highly recommend hitting www.singletracks.com (http://www.singletracks.com) for wherever you end up traveling at a minimum to get info on trails for the state- skip a city search or you'll limit your results, even if many are out of range. Also, look for a local mtb trail riding organization for the area. I found gorctrails.com (http://gorctrails.com) for further reference and trail condition info (and trail maps for several locations) for the St Louis area.

Based on logistics for trail proximity and secondly safe accommodations, I decided to stay in Chesterfield. There were several decent trailheads within 30 minutes of that home base. I would consider a different hotel further south for my next trip to ease the extra travel time to go explore the foothills of the Ozarks, if just to take some pictures and explore.

I was impressed initially by the number of trails that the Castlewood State Park system had available, covering a variety of difficulty levels. We only walked some of the trails as the rain had taken its toll on the lower, river-level trails. We walked the advanced (expert) Lone Wolf trail and enjoyed the hike and some decent scenic views. Walking back on the Scenic View easy trail we had to doge plenty of large mud spots. It was flat but curvy for very casual riding but generally 5 feet wide along the river. There are 11 trails in the park, so we saw just a fraction. Plenty of rocky technical riding on the upper trails, staying much drier due to altitude.

We hit Matson Hill out near Defiance, MO which was one I didn't expect to reach but we headed there to beat the rain. Unfortunately the light showers caught up during mid ride but passed through before we completed our laps. The trails there build on each other- you have to ride some easy and intermediate to get to the expert section. There were a lot of roots and rocky layers, making climbing a solid workout but once wet you were punished if you failed to keep your momentum. I walked more uphill than I rode. I think I'd have enjoyed the challenges more without the slick factor. The downhill sections were a decent payoff but not enough to feel it was balanced. Speed had to be watched due to curves. All told we rode the Oxen Mill trail but hit other sections to do the loops. Signage was a bit confusing at the 3-way intersection but I picked the right and shortest path out when possible.

Another park we hit was Creve Coeur Park, north of Chesterfield. It spans a much larger area than you realize once you reach the park, but the mtb trails are all connected and accessible from the same drive/parking areas on the east side. We enjoyed the disc golf course there as an alternate activity. The trails were decently groomed and reminded me of some parts of Fort Harrison, although fewer log challenges and no real ridge riding than Schoen Creek offers. About half the trail gets moving plenty fast with very fun rolling downhill sections. We were grateful for limited foot traffic and after a few laps were upping our speed here as you couldn't help but have fun. A couple of narrow sections hinder only really wide bars but it didn't hamper the overall ride. About a hundred feet of the flat section needed whacking but my legs came through without cuts. The last section of our run was a fitting gradual uphill climb, leveling off just enough here and there to get your momentum back. Not overly difficult for those in shape but not too punishing for me either.

All in all I would readily return to the St Louis area for trail riding. We only saw a fraction of what is available within the area. If it matters, there is a Trek brand store in the area not far from Castlewood, with another in the metro area from what I gathered from the salesman. There were no fees to get into the state parks (or any location we visited for that matter) and if you are keen on long stretches of cross country railway riding, entry to Katy Trail can be found here and there throughout the SW side of St Louis, likely elsewhere as well.

I hope this information is useful to you and anyone else heading that direction. From Bloomington you'll be reaching that 4 hour mark but if you book a room or campsite central to your interests it may be slightly less. Let me know if you have any questions that I could try and answer.

~Yet another Dave

Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: Bentcrank on July 10, 2013, 05:05:47 PM
Louisville has several good trails and Cinci has some too.
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: Shark on July 10, 2013, 05:25:32 PM
Kickapoo is ok, but far from a multi day destination. Heading down into Kentucky will get you some great riding.
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: Fett on July 11, 2013, 10:01:58 AM
Kickapoo is ok, but far from a multi day destination. Heading down into Kentucky will get you some great riding.

Cave Run Lake in Daniel Boone National Forest by Lexington KY used to be great riding. I have not been there in several years. I have heard that a good part of it now sees heavy horse traffic.
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: Bentcrank on July 11, 2013, 10:03:16 AM
Laurel Lake around London, KY would be two good days if you go both directions. Two complete different kind of trails
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: ryantrek on July 11, 2013, 10:49:40 AM
 My wife and I are heading up to see family in Chicago tomorrow. My brother in law has plans to take me somewhere for some thrashing around on the bikes.... I will report back where, and if it is worth a drive this weekend!!
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: Mahk on July 11, 2013, 11:22:03 PM
Hey All, many thanks for the suggestions.  We'll look into these and let you know where we go and how it is.  Tentative travel dates are July 31-Aug.2, so we'd welcome any additional comments before then. 
Thanks again!
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: ryantrek on July 15, 2013, 09:15:30 AM
 I rode pahlos hills with my brother in law Saturday. I will say it was as blast. 3 ravines was probably the best part of it all!! The course is not quite as manicured as what I was used to, lots of ruts in the climbs that made them quite the challenge. Lots of fun for sure.
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: TenBeers on August 12, 2013, 07:09:06 PM
The St Louis area (where I live) certainly has some good places.  My home base is in Wildwood, just north of Eureka, in the middle of some good trails.  Castlewood, Greensfelder and Chubb are all within 15 minutes.  I struggle to find 3 whole days, though.
I agree with the previous poster -- most trails are a mix of beginner/intermediate, with some advanced mixed in as well.
Over in St Charles county, there is Lost Valley, Matson Hill, and Klondike for what some locals call "The Trifecta" -- they can be linked using the gravel Katy Trail for a really long ride, although the gravel road ride up to Matson Hill keeps me from trying it (I just drive between parks).  Here's what I would do, if I had 3 days and 2 nights.  Staying in Chesterfield is a good plan, or you could find a hotel off of 94 for the first night, then Eureka the second night.
Day 1:
Lost Valley clockwise (warm up loop)
Matson Hill clockwise, then counter-clockwise
South trails of Klondike, then Hogsback on the north side if you still have the energy.
Beers in Augusta
Day 2:
Castlewood front trails (warm up) 
Day 3:
If you survived Chubb, head back east and hit the trails at SIUE before heading back home
Oh yeah, info on STL area trails can be found at http://gorctrails.com/ (http://gorctrails.com/)
I am headed out with 3 other riders for our 2nd annual Bloomington and Brown County invasion this Thursday!
Title: Re: mtb destinations outside of Indiana
Post by: ELduder on August 28, 2013, 12:45:21 PM
Only place worth hitting in Cave Run Lake is by the visitor center and the Big Limestone loop. This is about a 15 mile loop with a nice climb at the beginning then a very fun downhill. After that you have a long climb up FS 16 to Big Limestone trail then take a right on Sheltowee and bomb down to the car. I would not ride it now far to overgrown but later this fall and winter it will be worth the drive.