“One of the best backcountry trails in Indiana.
— Nate Hawkins
A USFS trail permit is required for this trail. Permits may be acquired at many vendors in the area, as well as in Indianapolis.
This trail permits hikers, mountain bikers, and horses. Mountain bikers yield to both hikers and horses.
Consider wearing hunter orange during hunting season, as the Hoosier National Forest permits hunting.
Reaching this trail is more difficult than following it. From IN 46 (which goes between Bloomington, Nashville, and Columbus) in Gnaw Bone, take IN 135 south 9 miles to Story. At the Story Inn, take Elkinsville Rd. west approx 3 miles to find the gravel parking lot for the trailhead on your left. Signs for Elkinsville Rd. are very small, but you can't miss the Story Inn. You can park at the Story Inn and ride 3 miles of gravel to the trailhead for a warmup, because you won't get much of one starting from the northern trailhead.
The southern trailhead is more remote on even more lightly traveled roads. The coordinates are: 39 1' 6.266"N, 86 14' 31.712"W. Most riders start from the Northern trailhead.
Once you reach the Southern trailhead, consider exploring some of the trails in the Hickory Ridge area, just down the road, before returning North.
Regardless of the trailhead you start from, you have a big climb ahead of you to reach the ridgetop. Starting from the North, the climb up the old fire road tends to stay sloppy for awhile, as drainage is poor here. As you near the top, however, you'll be rewarded with some rocky technical spots. Watch out for downed trees. Maintenance here is not as frequent as it is on other trail systems and it may take awhile for downed trees to be removed. They have a tendency to fall at the bottom of fast downhills and the last thing you want is a serious injury in the backcountry because you weren't paying enough attention.
Once you reach the top of Nebo Ridge, you'll get to enjoy some pretty flowy singletrack before the downhill to the southern trailhead. Take a break and explore Hickory Ridge or retrace your steps for a ~17 mile ride.
Make sure you carry PLENTY of water. There is nowhere to refill.
The Story Inn is a great place to stop for a post-ride beverage and recovery meal, which is another reason to start from the northern trailhead.
Emergency contact numbers:
Brown County Sheriff: 812-988-6655 or 911
Indiana Conservation Officers: 812-837-9536