On a clear day, at the summit of the peak of Piz Nair, the landscape stretches out below you, barely recognisable once the snow has thawed and the larches have turned green. This is Switzerland in summer, and this is the time to go.
The serene expanse of Switzerland’s Engadin Valley that surrounds St. Moritz provides the perfect territory for mountain biking. Cycling along the lakeside trails, mountainous pathways and glacier-skirting tracks, riders get a taste of wilderness, as well as some of the finest scenery and fresh air in Europe. The Engadin Valley has over 400km dedicated to mountain bike trails and there are numerous options dedicated to various abilities and strengths. Here’s our pick of the best...
This ‘flow trail’ is the original downhill ski run built for the Winter Olympics in 1948, but was opened for the summer season in 2013. Built by locals, each trail has a different story and character that reflects the native landscape and wildlife. From Corviglia to Chantarella, the route sees you bike across the mountains looking down over the glimmering lakes and lush forest of St. Moritz. This is the perfect warm-up for experienced bikers or an exhilarating ride for families and intermediates.
Corviglia Flow Trail, swiss-image.ch/Markus Greber
High-up in the giddy, vertical station of Piz Nair, this trail offers a quintessential Swiss trail set against one of the most stunning backdrops in the Alps. The best tour begins at sunrise; a cable car takes you up 3000 metres, where bikers can enjoy a rich breakfast buffet at the summit.
Straight out of the cable car you’ll be met by a spectacular view of the Engadin valley, before heading down the crags of La Trais Flors, and down towards the lakes, Alp Muntatsch and Beaver. This trail can be an all day event, so fuel-up before and enjoy a dip in the lake at the bottom.
For dates and availability of this trip see: www.engadin.stmoritz.ch/sommer
Piz Nair, swiss-image.ch/Markus Greber
Bernina Express Trail
Probably the best bike trail for landscape lovers, this trail begins just behind Pontresina and heads south on the trail of the Bernina Express train. Add in the breathtaking scenery of the mighty glaciers and you’ve got backcountry cycling at its finest. You can detour at various points along the trail dipping east and west to take in views over the high-lying plateaus and the Palü glacier. The final part is fairly demanding but the flower-lined trail that winds down into the Val Poschiavo is dazzling.
Bernina Express Trail, swiss-image.ch/Markus Greber
Lägh da Cavloc
If you’re travelling with small children, or just want a scenic, less demanding tour of the Engadin, then the valley route from Maloja to Cavloc is perfect. Though the trail is particularly charming during the autumn when larches turn from green to gold, this is well worth the trip at any time. Easy but lengthy rides skirt around Lake St. Moritz, along with smooth single tracks, forest trails that take you gently down the valley. It’s a very different riding experience to most trails, keeping you close to the little hamlets and restaurants and allowing time to take in the scenery.
For experienced riders or those who want the thrill of a challenging ride, this cross-country trail is the best in the region. The circular tour begins in Zernez and winds its way south, over the Chaschauna Pass and dipping into Italy where the trail runs through Livigno and into the Valtellina valley. One of the classic-big mountain routes, this beautiful offers everything from fast-rolling hill descents to technical sections.
Make sure you stop for lunch in Valtellina, sampling some of the regions famous bresaola, cheeses and wines, before you make your way home through Passo di Fraéle and Jufplan, hopefully reaching Zernez in the late afternoon.
*Don’t forget you passport or ID as on this trail you travel over the Swiss border.
Cable car at Piz Nair, swiss-image.ch/Markus Greber
Special offer for summer 2015
More than 100 hotels in the Upper Engadin offer summer guests staying at least two nights free travel on up to 13 cable cars, gondolas, chairlifts and funiculars. Some hotels also include unlimited use of public transport in the Upper Engadin.
Valid 1 May – 31 October 2015, see www.engadin.stmoritz.ch/inclusive
For more information about mountain biking in St. Moritz see www.engadin.stmoritz.ch/mountainbike