If you are looking for the perfect mountain biking holiday location in Switzerland, look no further – Arosa Lenzerheide bike region has everything you need. With more than 500 km of signposted bike trails, an excellent lift and gondola network, and a freeride bike park, there’s something to do for any bike lover. On a late September weekend, we decided to get a taste of all this goodness.
Another thing that attracted me to Lenzerheide region was their quirky marketing videos and messages. A great example of this is the video below:
Many resorts in Switzerland (and in the Alps in general) mostly focus on earning with winter activities, others struggle to make their ends meet with summer bike parks, but here it was refreshing to see that they have found a way how to keep themselves busy in the summer too. Plus, we – mountain bikers – have a great place to go surf the dirt. It’s a win-win situation!
From where we live (Interlaken area), it’s a 3-hour drive to Lenzerheide, and if you can be bothered with an early start, you can hit the trails by noon. And that’s exactly what we did. It was a rainy drive, but we were happy with the slowed-down traffic as it was quite a drive approaching Chur and Lenzerheide – narrow, windy mountain roads, something we’re still quite not used to.
Getting The FIRST Taste Of LENZERHEIDE Trails
Luckily, the rain stopped as soon as we had settled in the campsite and headed out. On our first day, we were up for a mountain trail ride, leaving the bike park for the next day. Even though we had a plan for the day, we ended up discovering other parts of the region, just to find that perfect downhill ride (and avoid too much uphill pedaling).
We were aiming to get to the very top of Rothorn, however, as it had snowed, we were advised not to go there due to the poor conditions. It was a shame, but we can always try again the next day. Instead, we went for a long traverse trail (number 602) to take us from Scharmoin (gondola middle-station from Lenzerheide to Rothorn) back down to the valley in Churwalden village.
I’m still not sure whether it was the high altitude (slightly above 1900 m) or my illness, but the chosen trail seemed to have way more uphill than we signed up for. It was a relief to see that I wasn’t the only one struggling – we were all eager to get on a downhill trail or at least a mellow single trail. Instead, we got a lot of gravel roads which wasn’t what we came here for. However, the views were great, and we had a great time.
Somewhere along the way down to Churwalden, we decided to try another lift up on the other side of the valley – to Heidbüel. Maybe all the good downhill stuff is here? Around this time, the hunger set in. As soon as we got off the gondola, we stopped for a lunch break. There were no restaurants in sight, but we had packed food for us, so that was no problem. If only we had a thermos with coffee though!
As soon as the tummies were full, we set out to ride trail 602/612 which would take us back to Lenzerheide. The farther we rode, the less hope we had of finding that downhill joy. Seeing a few hard-tailers on the way (“People like me,” as I joked…) did not light up our spirits. But we did get lucky in the end!
The last bit of the downhill ride was an absolute delight! Muddy, full with roots, a few drops, and some steep slopes. It was short, but sweet and put big smiles on our faces all the way through. It ended way too soon, though, but we were all exhausted and it was time to get back to the campsite and get ourselves clean and fed. We had done 21.44 km ride on the first day, but we were hungry for more.
For our stay, we had chosen the Camping Gravas Lenzerheide – all the amenities, quiet and an amazing location by a mountain river enclosed by trees. Felt remote, but still close to our main attraction – 2 km or 10 min ride away from the bike park. Showering, quick camp-fire dinner and we were set for long conversations till late over a bottle of wine. Not too late though, as we were up for an early(ish) start the next day.
Conquering The Rothorn And Fear at 2865 m
The main attraction for the second day was the bike park, however, we were still up for conquering the top of Rothorn. This time around, no one tried to stop us. Yes, there was snow on the top, but the sunny weather made everyone way more optimistic about our chances to get down on or with the bikes than the day before.
The worst case, we discussed amongst ourselves, we will just enjoy the view from the top and take the gondola down if needed. And if it really were the case, it would not make any difference with the costs either, as we were getting the day ticket for the bike park, and it included unlimited rides to the top as well. And by the way – dogs get to ride the Lenzerheide lifts for free!
The view from the top of Rothorn was indeed amazing! We spent a bit of time wandering around, taking some photos and even doing a short scramble through snow and up some loose rocks just to get better views down on the valley. You don’t get to enjoy such heights a lot, especially with your bike, and we were quite stoked with that fact alone.
The time came for us to set off on our way down. After speaking to some locals, we figured out which way to go and were reassured that ‘it’s not that bad‘ with the snow conditions. The first few hundred meters didn’t go so well, though – we all had “summer tires” on, so we had to push our bikes through the ankle-to-knee deep snow. But the amazing views and excitement were kicking in!
Finally, we reached a rideable trail (by the way, the same 602 we were riding the day before). Or, to be more precise, a narrow snow-free but loose-rock covered line at the very edge of the said trail. Whoa! That was something! We were all high on the excitement, but also super conscious about the conditions we were riding in. At moments I was so tensed up, and stopping for a second made me feel a bit delirious.
The risk was too high, and a tiny little mistake could end up in a gnarly fall down the steep slopes. I actually just about escaped one such fall jumping off my bike the opposite direction of the fall as soon as my bike was about to throw me over. Moments like this make you feel everything so intensely as if your senses are on steroids. It’s an amazing feeling when you manage it, but tiring at the same time.
This ride definitely made us all step out of our comfort zones, but it was one of the most enjoyable rides we had had. Yes, I did struggle on my hard-tail and at times I felt like giving up as I just could not keep up with everyone else. But I also kept reminding myself that what I was doing was utterly crazy. And it truly was!
Eventually, we all made it down in one piece, and I had a reason to be proud of myself. Even though I had to walk a few bits, I did keep up with the others and I rode most of the trail just like everyone else. All starving and tired, we stopped for a lunch break at the top of the Lenzerheide Bike Park.
Flow Time At The Bike Park
While munching on our sandwiches and snacks, we got to observe other riders dropping in on a couple of the bike park trails. I had already decided that I will try the easiest one – FLOWline freeride trail – but seeing the level of riders and their bikes was intimidating. Not a single hard-tail! Plus, everyone seemed to be nailing it. And they call it a beginner’s trail?
This made me think of all the other trails people had deemed to be suitable for a beginner like me, just to find out that it was way above my skill level. Will this be yet another time for me to learn that it’s not for me yet? It was very easy to just put an end to the riding that weekend, but I felt like it would have been a waste of a trip if I didn’t even give it a go.
That trail was a game-changer for me! I did not feel 100% confident on it, but I absolutely enjoyed it. I could ride it all from top to bottom, managed all the corners and generally had fun on it but could also see room for growth. The main thing though, it helped me gain some confidence that I had lost on a couple of previous failed attempts of riding similar trails.
I only had the energy left for one more ride on the trail and was lucky enough to ride it on a full-suspension bike my friend lent me. Oh, my! What a difference it made! I was flying down the trail, absolutely enjoying the flow and the ease of the ride. It felt amazing not to hear the jack-hammer-like sounds my hard-tail makes on downhill trails.
I wanted more! A better bike, and more of flow-trail riding like I had enjoyed in Lenzerheide. Who would have thought that within only two months I will be ready for a bike upgrade?
My day at the bike park was over, but the boys enjoyed some of the red trails and even managed to get down the black run (STRAIGHTline) which is also one of the stages of The UCI MTB World Cup. It must have been an amazing feeling to have a chance to ride the same lines as the best of the best in the downhill world. For me though, I was happy enough to have made it down the easiest trail.
We finished off the day with a short photo session at the dirt jumps, meaning – me behind the camera while Luke is flying high. This and a skills training park with a pump track and family area is available for free to all riders at the Rothorn valley station. Amazing if you just want to work on your skills before upgrading to the bike park and trails.
We’ll Be Back Soon, Yes?
We were tired and exhausted but super stoked about our experience at Lenzerheide. We all had a really good aftertaste and were already discussing the next trip. A celebratory drink at the T-Bar at the bottom of the bike park, a bit of shopping at the local bike shop and we were ready to set off for a ride home.
As soon as we were on our way, the storm clouds came in and we got to experience some heavy rain and a proper lightning show on the drive back. As if the weather had turned for the better just for us and was now back to being grim and wet. Worked for us!
See you soon, Lenzerheide!
- Single lift trips with bikes (Canols – Scharmoin and Churwalden – Heidbüel) – CHF 19 each
- Day Pass Lenzerheide (includes lift rides to the top of Rothorn with bikes) – CHF 45
- More on lift passes and rates – see here
- Camping (two people, tent pitch and a car for a night) – CHF 36.50 (see more)
- Fuel (depending on the driving distance)
- Food (depending on what and where you eat; we had everything with us)