Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Nebo Ridge, and some HNF exploration

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

After our great ride in Hoosier National Forest on Saturday, Dave and I did more HNF riding on Sunday. We set out to ride the Nebo Ridge trail, and after that we did some exploration. We found a way to get from Nebo Ridge to Crooked Creek Road. More about that later. Unfortunately, I got my helmet cam all ready to go, and then left it sitting at home. Damn!

You could consider this a mixed-terrain ride, only more on the mountain biking end of the spectrum. It included singletrack, doubletrack, gravel roads, paved roads, grassy trails, etc. Anyway, here’s a map of our ride.

Nebo Ridge is an old favorite of ours. Just a few years ago, Nebo by itself was an epic ride for me. Now, it’s still challenging, but certainly not epic by itself. Fortunately, there’s a ton of other great riding surrounding it, so it’s still a great place to go ride.

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This ride on Nebo Ridge can best be described as fast. I think this is probably the fastest I’ve ever ridden it. And, since it has a lot of rolling hills, it’s actually easier at higher speeds than if you’re slogging up each hill. I am in better shape than I’ve been in a few years, so I was flying. Dave hasn’t been able to ride as much this year, but somehow he was going just as fast. I’m not sure how he does it. Regardless, it was just an incredible roller coaster through the woods. Toward the end, I bunny hopped over a log and cleared it completely. I was thrilled, bunny hopping isn’t really something I’ve ever been good at. We were at the end of the trail in a little over an hour. Very fast, for us.

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After Nebo, we rode on some roads for a bit. We rode over to Combs Road as if we were going to make the loop it forms with the trail.

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Soon we reached the climb at the end of Combs Road.

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After making the climb, rather than turn back toward the Nebo Ridge trail, we went straight. This took us back down the other side of the hill, on a narrow ribbon through a field of grass, with some great opportunities to catch air.

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Normally I keep my wheels on the ground for the most part, but I couldn’t resist this, it was too much fun! I had read that jumping on a 29er doesn’t work too well, but I found it not to be a problem at all. The trail here received little to no maintenance, so we had to do things like climb through this fallen tree.

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After a while, we ended up on a gravel road. We thought this would take us in the direction we wanted to go, but we weren’t sure if there was going to be a bridge over the local fork of Salt Creek.

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We saw a great place to put in a canoe.

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Fortunately, the bridge was intact.

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There was a guardrail at the end of the bridge but we were easily able to get over it and ride on the doubletrack on the other side. It was grassy at first, later giving way to dirt. It was a bit muddy in spots but overall not bad. The road followed Salt Creek to where it feeds into Lake Monroe — and beyond.

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After this point, the only “traffic” we saw were people in boats, mostly fishermen.

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We saw probably a dozen egrets / great blue herons in the lake, and some geese.

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We reached a point where we weren’t sure if we would be able to get across. Our maps showed a road that appeared to be interrupted by water. It didn’t look like it went through. We were hoping the water level would be low enough that we could get through.

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Fortunately, there was a small land bridge across the water. We were able to get across. If the water level had been much higher, we wouldn’t have been able to get through.┬áBy the way, I checked and the water level was 537.56 feet. Normal Pool for Lake Monroe is 538. So basically, as long as the lake is at or below normal pool, we should be able to get through, I think.

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Soon, we were right by the Crooked Creek boat ramp. You can’t see it int he photo below, but it’s back in that cove.

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We were very excited that we were able to ride all the way through. This opens up tons of possibilities for linking together some amazing rides. It gives us a much closer-to-home starting point for riding Nebo Ridge, but also serves as a link between Yellowwood State Forest and Hoosier National Forest.  Just awesome.

Tim might recognize the name Crooked Creek Road from the ride we did together when he was here, it was along the route. Now that area can be connected to the HNF tracts on the opposite side of Lake Monroe!

After a break, we headed back the way we came. As we were riding along, I was also thinking that this portion would be quite doable on a touring bike. And we saw a few campsites along the way. I’m trying to figure out what it could all mean. A bike with hauling capacity, combined with remote campsites on the lake. It seems like you should be able to do something with those two things.

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By this time it was getting quite hot and I was being eaten alive by insects. Fortunately Dave had brought bug spray with him. What a life-saver!

Once I found some relief from the bugs, I could focus once again on the task at hand.

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Oh, but what’s this? Beautiful flowering plants covered with butterflies!

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We made our way back to the Nebo Ridge trailhead by way of some gravel roads. It was mostly flat, except one big bad hill at the end.

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Somehow, we both made it up this grueling climb, late in the ride, in the heat of the day.

Back at the parking lot I was amazed at all the dirt on my legs. Somehow Dave was hardly dirty at all. Not sure how that could be.

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As we wrapped things up after the ride, another rider in the parking lot said, “Hey, do you have a blog?”

Of course, I responded that I did. He introduced himself as Bill … he has left some comments on the blog and we have corresponded about gravel roads a couple of times. It was great to meet him and put a face with a name. He had just ridden Nebo plus a whole bunch of Hickory Ridge trails. A more difficult ride than ours, for sure. But he was excited to hear about our discovery.

So, it was another great day on the bike. This time it was 25+ miles on the mountain bike, over the course of four hours. I can’t wait to take advantage of this newfound knowledge.

8 Responses to “Nebo Ridge, and some HNF exploration”

  1. Chris Says:

    Wow…that looks like a fantastic route. I’m sure there must be places too rough for me and Homer, but most of those photos look just about right for a fat tire country bike.

  2. Apertome Says:

    Yes, most of this would’ve been doable on such a bike. You’d have to pick your line a little more carefully, but tha’ts not necessarily a bad thing. The only part where you really need a mountain bike is the Nebo Ridge trail itself. Even that *could* be done on a country bike, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

  3. Redbike Says:

    What a great ride.

    I’ve been dying to start commuting to work via bike again. I had this lovely 5 mile stretch through a wood. You wouldn’t belive just how much i’m missing it.

    Unfortunately during the storms we had here in Britan a month or two ago several trees have fallen across the paths through this wood. Now that summers finally here nobody is using these blocked paths and they are slowly becoming heavily over-grown. Very soon these blocked paths will become inpassable. – I hope that your blocked paths don’t go the same way.

  4. bill Says:

    Thanks for posting this route – I don’t ride with a computer and it’s great seeing the elevation profiles. I’m usually on the gravel when it’s too wet for trails, so the route around Monroe is typically too flooded. Absolutely awesome seeing the route completed and I’m chomping to give it a roll. Like you mentioned, it opens some super possibilities for long rides and ride/camp adventures! Great meeting both of you and looking forward to your ongoing epic escapades!

  5. RANTWICK Says:

    I am going to stop reading your posts while I’m at work. Your pictures just make me want to be anywhere but here, preferably there. As always, great post and pics.

  6. Dave Says:

    This was a great ride, and I’m always impressed with your photos! I’m still smiling at the great conditions we had for Nebo Ridge, and the extra miles was a bonus find! Can’t wait for our next one…
    Dave

  7. Myles/ rattrappress Says:

    I agree with Rantwick, you’re bad for productivity. I kind of miss mountain biking.

  8. Tim Says:

    Jealous. Very Jealous. But I can make an excuse to travel with an invite. =)

    The camping sounds really great, and the double track too, and the gravel, and…

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