Indiana Trails: All-Terrain Fun in Versailles State Park
Risk and reward await mountain-bikers at this historic southeastern Indiana outpost.
Versailles saw action during the Civil War, as Confederate troops briefly held the city during the infamous Morgan’s Raid. Now most of the sleepy hamlet’s local excitement is of the two-wheeled variety: The wide mix of terrain over Versailles State Park’s 16 miles of singletrack has made the trail system a favorite of many Hoosier riders. It’s also why local race promoters love using the park for events, such as Doing INdiana Off-road’s (DINO) 24-hour mountain-bike race. Each September, the event allows hardcore riders to bike the course for 24 hours straight. At night, members pedal with high-powered lights atop their helmets and handlebars, taking over the forest from the owls, raccoons, and other animals that normally own the night.
To get to the Cliffside and Creekside trails, the most scenic of the lot, I traversed Shadow Run, an easy four-mile jaunt perfect for opening up the legs. Two miles in, I reached Cliffside, rising 250 feet and running along the hillside—the dropoff to the ravine can be steep, so stay alert. The topography is worth the risk, though, particularly for the lovely waterfall you ride by. Cliffside connects to Creekside, which descends, splashing across a couple of ankle-deep streams, to the trailhead along Laughery Creek. When I noticed the herons and cranes relaxing in the creek, I shook the urge to jerk my handlebars to the right and take the refreshing plunge.
» Don’t Forget An extra pair of socks, for when the water level’s high at Laughery Creek.
» Getting There Take I-74 E to U.S. 421 S, follow for 26 miles, turn right on U.S. 50. The park will be on your left. The bike trails can be accessed from the parking lot closest to the camp store. in.gov/dnr/parklake/2963.htm