Schooner Trace

It is often said the true beauty of Brown County State Park year ‘round is not necessarily enjoyed peering through a windshield, but by hiking its many trails.  While all users of property trails can leave traffic and noise behind them, guaranteeing a wonderful experience, this one adds even more adventure!  Gear up for a rugged hike or an even more challenging ride; it is not for the faint of heart!  At both ends, optional choices let the user decide if they wish to actually take on the rugged challenge over extreme topography.  At mile 1.14 Schooner crosses the road to Ogle Lake.
If you do go, one sure bonus will be the opportunity for up-close inspection of some of the park’s big timber.  In this remote backcountry setting, large red oak, chestnut oak, tupelo, and American beech trees can be found.  Even though most of the park’s timber was cut in the late 1800s to make way for agriculture, some steep hillsides may have been overlooked; it appears this area is one of them.  Massive trees grow in these hard-to-access ravines and ridge-tops.  Brown County’s average age of timber is approximately 85 years; these trees are considerably older.  Hand-placement of stones in trail beds by workers from the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association adds to the challenge of natural rock outcrops, while banked curves and single-track bridges cross over streams and depressions.  Some flowing waterfalls may exist if the time of year is right.  Whether hiking or on fat tires, cautiously approach wet or alge-covered rocks.  Be mindfull of exposed roots and loose gravel on steep trails.  Watch for downed limbs and logs.  Grooves in sandstone rocks attest to poor clearance by extreme bikers!  At time of publication, no biker has ridden the entire trail without stopping.
Schooner Trace is the newest mountain bike trail in the park.  It’s a double-black diamond trail with some big penalties for failure and only for the experienced mountain biker.  Hills, rocks, trees, roots, tight switchbacks, steep climbs - this trail has it all.
Enjoy this exciting and “extremely difficult” trail - you may not have another opportunity to witness the beautiful and (very!) rugged “hills o’ Brown”!

Begins: Off of the Walnut Trail near Hesitation Point
Distance: 4.08 miles
Hiking: Extremely rugged
Hiking Time:  3 hours (one way)
Biking: Expert
Elevation Gain: 382 ft
Look for:  natural rock outcrops, big timber American beech, tupelo, shagbark hickory