We (HMBA) are big fans of pay to play.
While the entry fees to the state parks and reservoirs don't directly fund the construction of new mountain bike trails, they do directly keep the parks open, which here in the Midwest is currently an issue, with neighboring states closing parks to cut costs. The gate fees at State Parks cover the cost of maintaining the restrooms, mowing the grass, protecting the land, salaries, etc..
We have found that the gate fees are a great asset for us getting access to build trails. While we like to think of park managers out in the woods doing outdoor stuff. They really spend most of their time managing the business of the park. And they are responsible for how much money the park costs to operate. When the park's gate fees cover the park's operating costs, the Park Manager doesn't have to fight with other parks in the red for funding from the state.
So when other State Park Managers see mountain bike trails bringing more people to other parks, they want mountain bike trails in their park.
At Brown County State Park for example, the park employees do not build mountain bike trails. Which is a good thing. The park employees aren't as passionate about mountain bike trails as we are. They would likely build some ok trails, but they would not know how to build really special mountain bike trails.
Alex and Alex benchcutting: These are the guys you want building mtb trails:
While the parks aren't building the trails, they have been very helpful throughout the whole process. I couldn't even start to list all the little things the park mangers have done to help us.
Meanwhile, State Parks are part of the DNR, and the DNR has helped us financially by working with us to secure and manage large grants. Between RTP and State Trail Grants, we currently are putting $400,000 of trail on the ground. Working on this type of funding is much more productive that worrying about getting a cut of the entry fees.
Here is a good article by the State DNR on whats going on in Indiana
One thing to be aware of, is that the State Parks and Forests do have some trails that while open to mountain biking, where not build by mountain bikers. Some of these are old horsed out trails and would be disappointing to any mountain bikers who traveled to ride them. If you look at the list of DNR MTB trail at the end of the article, I would break those into 2 groups.
Trails built by mountain bikers:
Brown County State Park
Potato Creek (NIMBA)
Ferdiand (lot of steep climbing)
Multi use trails that are open to mountain bikes, but not built specifically for mountain biking:
Clark State Forest
Martin State Forest
More MTB built trails coming at
Harmonie State Park (currently under construction)
Fort Harrison State Park
O'Bannon Woods State Park
P.S. the Paoli / West Badin area has a lot of potential. We are working with the DNR to try and convince French Lick Resort to add MTB trails to there property. There also is a reservoir South of French Lick on our list of properties to look at.