See why this hidden Swiss valley is a universe of experience for bikers
© Dan Milner
Switzerland's Val d'Anniviers boasts some of the most varied and accessible world class mountain biking on the planet. Find out more about this amazing location with our destination ride guide.
Nestled between the glacier-capped, 4,000m plus peaks of the Matterhorn, Weisshorn and Dent Blanche to the east and the balmy vineyards of the Rhone river valley to the north, Valais region’s Val d’Anniviers boasts some of the most varied and most accessible world class mountain biking on the planet.
This hidden valley is dotted with ancient villages whose old, rustic wooden houses ooze rich mountain culture and whose mountainsides are criss-crossed by more than 200 kilometres of bike trails. Several cablecars and funicular trains along with the public Postbus make it easy to climb without breaking a sweat, sparing your energy for big days out on the trails instead.
The combination of Val d’Anniviers’ true all-mountain riding, its breathtaking backdrop of snowy peaks and a genuine potential for adventure has earned it the rightful title as home of the Grand Raid BCVs — one of the world’s toughest mountain bike races, covering 120 kilometres and ascending 5,000 metres in a day.
But whether it’s an adventurous point-to-point tour or just riding laps on St-Luc’s bermed DH trails that’s filling your agenda, basing yourself in any one of Val d’Anniviers’ five villages gives you doorstep access to some of Europe’s most flowing singletrack. And at the end of every ride there are plenty of hearty mountain dishes waiting for a much needed refuel.
There really is something for every type of rider in Val d’Anniviers.
If berms, rollers, jumps and northshore are your bag, then head to the little village of St-Luc. Grabbing the Funicular train from St-Luc’s old wooden houses up to Tignousa (May 26 to November 4, day pass 25CHF/21€ plus 4CHF/3€ bike transport surcharge for a single ride) delivers you to the start of three different flow trails, each dropping the 500 vertical metres back to St-Luc village.
The blue trail is a twisting, snaking trail of well-shaped berms and rollers and is ideal for all abilities, while the red and black trails throw in northshore ladders, table tops, gap jumps and committing drop offs.
Take a ride around the St-Luc bike park below...
Val d'Anniviers MTB trail guide – St Luc bikepark
St–Luc is easily reached by Postbus from Vissoie on the valley floor (maximum 6 bikes per bus, reserve your place here).
The Val d’Anniviers’ plentiful natural singletrack trails are what has put this destination on the all-mountain riders’ map, and you’ll find a wealth of rocky traverses and loamy flowing descents alike. Taking either the Grimentz-Sorebois cablecar (July 7 to October 21, 11CHF/9€ one way) or the Zinal-Sorebois cablecar (June 23 to October 21, 14CHF/12€ one way) gives you a helping hand to reach the 2,825m Corne de Sorebois, a high mountain pass that is the gateway to a huge descent. To reach it you’ll need to climb the last 200 or 400 metres from the cablecar top stations, but the fast and furious, all-mountain descent to Grimentz that waits is worth every drop of sweat.
Get a taste of the Sorebois to Grimentz trails below...
Val d'Anniviers MTB trail guide – Sorebois to Grimentz
The first 600 metres of this descent down to the aquamarine blue Lac de Moiry is on a fast, loose singletrack that cuts across wild, open mountainside.
Onwards from Lac de Moiry the trail becomes a beautiful riverside singletrack that undulates over rock gardens and winds around easy switchbacks as it plunges the last 600 metres down the valley to Grimentz.
If you have an appetite for adventure then an overnight in the 2,337m high Hotel Weisshorn opens up more trail possibilities. This 135-year old hotel can only be reached by foot or bike from the top of the St-Luc funicular, but its location above treeline among spectacular moraine fields puts you right in the heart of Val d’Anniviers’ best enduro trails.
Grab a beer on the hotel terrace while you recover from exploring the trails that traverse east towards the 4,506 metre Weisshorn, or sip your breakfast coffee while contemplating the 850 metre descent into the valley that begins right outside the hotel’s front door.
Take on the Weisshorn descent below...
Val d'Anniviers MTB trail guide – Weisshorn descent
This descent, emerging on the valley floor at Mottec is as varied as you’ll find anywhere, packing into its nine kilometres everything from perfect buff singletrack to undulating rooty sections and chaotic rock gardens. A grin is guaranteed.
Where to stay
The six main villages of Val d’Anniviers offer accommodation for every budget, ranging from hotels, gites, hostels and campsites. We stayed at the chalet-style Hotel Alpina in Grimentz. As one of Switzerland’s bikehotels it offers secure bike storage, workshop tools, e-bike charging and bike wash facilities, and offers bike-friendly packages that include lift passes for all lifts in the Val d’Anniviers. It also boasts a creative restaurant menu for tasty post ride dinners, of course washed down with a glass of local Valais Cornalin wine.
For a unique and special experience, stay at the Hotel Weisshorn, originally built over 130 years ago to offer accommodation for climbers. Although located high on the mountainside this Victorian-era hotel is no basic refuge: instead you’ll find comfortable rooms, amazing décor and an amazing menu waiting for you at the end of your ride.
How to get here
Val d’Anniviers is 180 kilometres from Geneva, 170 kilometres from Bern and 290 kilometres from Zurich. The town of Sierre sits at the entrance to the valley, and is easily reached by motorway and efficient rail connections to the airports of Geneva, Zurich and Bern and to other European cities. Information reaching the villages of Val d’Anniviers from Sierre by bus can be found on the Postbus website.
When to ride
Many of the valleys lower trails and those on south facing slopes can be ridden as early as April and as late as December. Most of Val d’Anniviers’ lifts and funiculars operate from May to October.
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