Check out why Italy's Alpe Cimbra is a joy for mountain bikers
© Lukas Pilz
Discover the lost world of Alpe Cimbra, where history, culture and great trails come together in perfect harmony.
If you struggle to understand what people are saying in Alpe Cimbra, there's a reason for that. It is one of the last enclaves of the ancient Cymbrian dialect, a Germanic language unintelligible even to German speakers. Fortunately, they understand mountain biking and have some of the best trails in the Trentino region. Here history, culture, great cuisine and two-wheeled adventures co-exist in perfect harmony.
Folgaria, Lavarone and Lusérn, known as Alpe Cimbra, lie on a 105 square kilometre wide plain in the south east of the Trentino region and includes several peaks, like the Cornetto, Cimone and the Cima Vézzena. Popular with tourists for centuries, today it boasts many, many mountain biking trails. Owing to a network of military roads built 100 years ago, the possibilities for exploration are endless.
Cycling between the old military forts, which date to the 19th Century, is a popular way to combine nature and history, and there's a 100km trail that follows these fortresses.
For downhill and gravity fans, Bike Park Lavarone is the place to go. Lavarone is also the spot if you want go for a swim or relax on a mountain beach. At the bike-friendly Lake Lavarone you can rent towels and store your bike while you go for a dip. Being active requires keeping your energy stores topped up, and here that means stopping at one of many mountain restaurants and getting stuck into some traditional Trentino cuisine.
The area offers a great service for guests who stay locally. With the Trentino Guest Card you get from select hotels and apartments, many things like entrance to fortresses or museums are free or discounted, like the entrance to the lido at Lake Lavarone.
One of the cross-country highlights is the 100km dei Forti, a mapped 100km trail, divided into three sections, that tours the military forts. You'll ride along ancient fortresses from the First World War and get a glimpse of the whole spectacular area.
On some trails, like the one on Monte Maggio, it's sometimes possible to see as far as Venice if you're lucky with the weather. This expert-level route offers everything for an adventurous biker: breathtaking views, exposed trails and very technical, steep descents on narrow singletrack.
Watch a POV video of the Monte Maggio trail below:
The Rosspach Valley tour on natural trails and gravel roads is good for intermediate riders, and a fun downhill is guaranteed. The upper part is a mix of wide trail and a steep old gravel road with loose rocks, while the lower part is flowy natural singletrack through an open forest alongside the beautiful Rio Cavallo stream. The tour ends at a picturesque waterfall, the perfect place for a little break.
Take an onboard ride down the Rosspach Valley trail in the video below:
Another trail runs from Monte Rust to Busatti. The track, 221, is a great, natural singletrack that winds down through the forest on a gentle slope and offers fun switchbacks, little jumps, fast turns and some easy rock sections.
Watch a POV of the 221 trail in the player below:
The small, but fun Bike Park Lavarone boasts four downhill and freeride trails, and is perfect for experienced gravity riders, as well for beginners and even kids. However, The Wheezy trail, featured in the video below, has various jumps, berms, doubles, wall rides and drops and is for experts only.
At the bottom of the chairlift you'll find a nice technical skills area, pumptrack and a great restaurant and bar to hang out. The park also offers three enduro routes, with four additional trails due to be opened soon.
Where to stay
Riding the lifts
The first chairlift service for bikes starts on May 19 and until July 1 it's just a weekend service, but after that date it runs every day through until September 2. It then reverts to a weekend-only service until October 7. A bike pass costs €15 for a half day and €21 for a full day.
Alpe Cimbra is situated in northern Italy and has good transport connections. It is only 30km from Trento, around 220km from Milan and Bologna, 140km from Venice and 200km from Innsbruck in Austria.
By Car: Alpe Cimbra can be reached by car or bus from the A22 Brennero motorway (exit Rovereto Nord and Trento Sud), and from the A31 Valdastico motorway (exit Piovene Rocchette).
By plane: The nearest airport is Verona Villafranca, 90km away.
Shuttle busses run regularly between the airport and Verona train station (10 min) From there you can get direct train connections to Trento and Rovereto.
By train: The railway station at Rovereto, on the Brennero line, is 18km from Folgaria and 30km from Lavarone. Trento station, on the Brenner line, is 30km from Folgaria and 35km from Lavarone.
When to go
As soon as the snow melts, there's nothing to stop you heading to Alpe Cimbra, but the gondola doesn't start operating until late May. With its long days, early summer is a great time to go, and less busy than July and August, while September and October are also an ideal time to visit. Daytime temperatures can reach the high 20s, but as always in the mountains, the weather can change quickly so always pack appropriately.