What do high ski mountain resorts and mountainous regional areas do when summer comes and the snow melts? They quickly shift their focus from winter sports to biking and become magical places where you can ride your bike, giving those who love gravity-fuelled action a chance to live out their riding dreams.
Europe as a continent has more trail centres, bike parks and regional areas known for mountain bike trails than in any other part of the world. It’s not only about big mountains destinations with their gondolas and chair lifts, as smaller bike parks with vehicle-and-trailer uplifts are also beginning to thrive.
Here’s our pick of some of the best established bike parks and mountain bike trail destinations in Europe:
Portes du Soleil, France/Switzerland
Season: June – September (opening dates differ per resort)
You cannot not mention the Portes du Soleil area when it comes to talking about European bike parks and mountain bike destinations to visit on the continent. Essentially, Portes du Soleil is a huge area of interlinked towns and bike parks that include the destinations of Châtel, Les Gets, Avoriaz, Morzine and Champéry. Spread across France and Switzerland, the total Portes du Soleil area has 600km of marked bike trails with 22 chairlifts to get you to where you need to be. All mountain biking disciplines are catered for across the bike parks, while off-the-bike there are plenty of hiking trails to be found.
We go on a trip to Châtel, France, where the boys spend a week riding one of the best bike parks in the world.
La Fenasosa Bike Park, Spain
Season: January – November
For some decent all-year riding in Europe look no further than La Fenasosa Bike Park in Spain. Located in the national park of Sierra Mariola in Alicante, La Fenasosa offers more than 20km of downhill, freeride, woodpack and cross-country trails. The downhill tracks are for those who like a challenge, but the other trails and facilities will appeal to riders who have varying degrees of ability, while there are fun elements like a trials area and a foam pit to practise tricks.
One of the appeals of La Fenasosa is that it’s in a remote destination and being here your focus is purely on mountain biking and having a good time doing it. On that point, there’s accommodation on site. There are no uplifts at this bike park, with riders and bikes being delivered to trails by vehicle shuttle.
Food, Faces and Places to Ride episode 4
The guys head to Spain and to ride the La Fenasosa bike park
Mottolino Bike Park, Italy
Livigno, in Italy’s Lombardy region, is famously known in mountain biking circles as the place where the Suzuki Nine Knights MTB freeride contest was held. With that kind of history, you’d expect there to be a bike park nearby and there is – Mottolino Bike Park. There are 14 different trails here, some of which are ideal if you’re taking your first steps into downhill riding, including the Flow Line and the MTB Enduro Natural Trail.
For those of a freeride persuasion there’s a dedicated North Shore area on the site, as well as a slopestyle line that includes a couple of ramps from the Nine Knights course. Nearby Mottolino, Livigno also has the Carosello 3000 ski resort, which has 50km of mountain bike trails to ride in the summer. The trail network at Carosello is more flowy and designed for beginners and families.
For a northern European bike park experience, there’s nowhere quite like Åre Bike Park. The park is beautifully situated next to a lake, surrounded by rolling, green hills in the northwest of Sweden.
There are 37 downhill trails at Åre. The trails have a good split in terms of difficulty across green, blue, red and black lines. For instance, beginners have seven green trails to choose from. The terrain in Åre is also varied, from rocky at the top to lush green forests halfway down. An XC Arena with 14 man-made trails ranging from easy to more challenging blues and reds has been added recently. Gravel biking is available here with some long, nice gravel roads in the area. Åre also hosts a big mountain bike festival every summer.
Åre bike festival, Sweden
Get a look at the creative process behind the Team Douche video, winner of the Åre Video Challenge.
Season: May – September
Bikepark Leogang has become Austria’s primary bike park destination to go to on the back of the UCI MTB World Cup being hosted at the resort. The bike park has 11 downhill trails that cover 30km in total length. They include the Speedster line, the famed World Cup track, and the pro jump line: Hot Shots fired by GoPro. There is, however, a lot more to do within the bike park and there’s a reason why it’s so popular with families visiting this part of Austria in the summer. A major draw is the Riders Playground – a 10,000m² area for children to ride and a 5,000m² pump track.
There’s also a huge network of mountain bike trails surrounding Bikepark Leogang for those who like more of a gentle pedal such as the Knappentrail and Schwarzleo Trail. The nearby regions of Saalfelden Leogang, Saalbach Hinterglemm and Fieberbrunn give visitors to Leogang more options for their two-wheeled adventures, with biking trails, road cycling and gravel routes to be found there.
There are more than 40 trails at BikePark Wales and there’s stuff that caters for all abilities, from gentle family trails right up to super technical descents with roots, rocks, drops and jumps that are there for the pros. What’s more, many of these trails are all-weather, meaning you can ride them at anytime of the year. Trails are accessed by uplift shuttles. If you’re new to trail riding, BikePark Wales runs a variety of coaching and guiding sessions for all abilities, and there’s a bike shop and food facilities on site. It’s a perfect day-trip facility!
Laurie Greenland – Wales
Downhill rider Laurie Greenland designs, oversees the build, and rides his dream line at BikePark Wales.
Bike Kingdom, Switzerland
Season: June – September
Like a few of the destinations featured in this guide, Bike Kingdom isn’t one place but a group of locations which have joined forces to market themselves as a place to go. In this case we’re talking about riding locations in and around the Swiss Canton of Graubünden. The primary location is Lenzerheide, but Bike Kingdom also extends to the Alpine town of Chur and the Arosa region.
Bike Kingdom Park Lenzerheide is the star attraction due to its history of holding the UCI World Cup in both downhill and cross-country at the bike park there. The riding you can do here features that World Cup course alongside four other descents. The town of Chur has its own bike park with the five trails there very much freeride in nature. Outside of these bike parks there are many more trails and routes to be found around Graubünden with an estimated 900km of single trail to be found.
Bikepark and Trailpark Winterberg, Germany
Season: April – October
Bikepark Winterberg is probably Germany’s most well-known bike park due to one of the biggest bike festivals in Europe, the Dirt Masters Festival, and the former FMB World Tour slopestyle contest Red Bull Berg Line being held within its grounds. Bikepark and Trailpark Winterberg can be found just west of the town of Winterberg in the Hochsauerland district of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The trails and facilities are varied and for all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. There’s a total of 13 downhill-based tracks at the Bikepark, while at the Trailpark there’s a network of 40km trails that are more flowy and family-friendly. The Jumpline at the Bikepark is by far Winterberg’s most famous downhill line. There’s a bike school at the Bikepark for those who are new to mountain biking and want to learn and begin their first steps on a mountain bike.
Best of Red Bull Berg Line 2013
Best of Red Bull Berg Line 2013
Bike Republic Sölden, Austria
Season: June – September
Austrian location Bike Republic Sölden is mountain biking very much aimed at the masses. It’s more-or-less a lift-accessed trail centre, with mellow gradients, artificial surfacing in places and little in the way of big jumps. There are nine man-made lines, a highlight being the Ollweit trail, which starts at 2,666m above sea level and takes you across beautiful Alpine mountain slopes. There are also 17 natural trails in Sölden that offer perfect flow.
The town, which is found in the Ötztal valley in the Tyrol region of Austria, is heavily investing in mountain biking, meaning the trail network grows every year. There are two pump tracks, hotels and businesses that embrace mountain biking, and it couldn’t be in a more picturesque setting.
Bike Park Kasina, Poland
Season: June – September
It’s only fair in a European bike park guide that we feature a destination that covers all parts of the continent and so to Eastern Europe with Poland’s Bike Park Kasina. Located just one hour away from the major city of Krakow, there are nine trails in the bike park, which is the biggest of its kind in Poland. The longest trail, the Family line, is as it sounds – suitable for beginners. The expert downhill trails are among the best of their kind in Poland.
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