Zermatt preparing itself for the growing MTB tourism
Daniel Luggen (Director of Zermatt tourism) explains that Zermatt sees itself as an MTB destination, but they decided to grow MTB tourism slow but steady. One of the outcomes of this strategy is that the Hotels were ready for mountain bikers before they actually started promoting it - by now over 30 hotels are certified Swiss bike hotels. That's a lot more than currently needed, but they are for sure ready for an increasing number of bike tourists.
Additionally, hiking trails get optimized for bikers and Zermatt is currently creating flow trails to suit the needs of beginners or people without the urge to throw themselves into rock gardens and high alpine hiking trails.
On the evening of our arrival in Zermatt, we enjoyed an aperitif on one of the many patios facing the Matterhorn. To our delight we notice many locals coming down from the mountain with their bikes. They took the last train up to Gornergrat for their daily after work ride. Not too bad I would say.
Tour de Zermatt
The next morning, we meet Beat from Swiss Skischool Zermatt, our guide for the next two days. He’s got big plans for today. He wants to show us as much as possible all around Zermatt.
We start with a train ride up to Gornergrat, first time today that we end up above 3000m. The views are breathtaking and before we start our first ride, Beat tells us a bit about some of the many peaks around us. Most of them are higher than 4000m.
The trail start is technical and very rocky. Some parts were unrideable for most of the group. Ben did ride everything, but he did also manage to dent his rim. The terrain is definitely unforgiving.
Soon, the trail gets easier to ride and our group advanced faster. When we finally reached the pine forest we rode for the first time on an "optimized" hiking trail. And I can tell you, smiles all around did the speaking. Still a hiking trail but true flow top to bottom.
A flow trail in Zermatt, wait what?
Around Sunegga we stop again. This time not because of a mechanical but because Beat wants to show us a flow trail which is still work in progress. We feel honored, the lower part of this first flow trail in Zermatt is nearly finished and we can test it. It starts off like many flow trails, some bumps and many berms while being on a skiing slope. As soon as it turns off the slope and into the forest the trail gets fun. Full of little table top jumps and some bumps that were built to double. It was actually that good that we had to push our bikes up and ride it all over again. If the whole trail will be like that, I have a good feeling about it. For once a flow trail that is aimed to be fun for advanced bikers as well.
But since Zermatt is Zermatt, they did not just create one flow trail. Planned are a total of five flow trails all around the valley.
And up we go again
Back in Zermatt, we transfer to the next gondola that will lead us up to Schwarzsee. From here we ride another nice trail just under the Matterhorn towards z’Mutt. Already feeling fatigue in our hands and our bellies, we stop for a proper lunch (Rösti) before we take on the fast Yo-Yo trail back to Zermatt.
Fluhalp - views for days and sweet mountain hut
For our last uplift of the day, we take first a cable car and then a gondola up to Unterrothorn and we are again over 3000m. However, this time we don’t ride back down to Zermatt. Fluhalp, a mountain hut just about halfway down will be our host for the next - short - night.
The Fluhalp might be the most luxurious mountain hut we ever stayed on, it even offers Wifi and there is a hot shower. But our guide didn't bring us here because of the luxurious hut, but because of its location. Fluhalp is located only a few minutes away from Stellisee. Famous for its reflection of the Matterhon and stunning sunsets and sunrises.
After a few hours sleep, we got up at 5am and rode our bikes down to Stellisee to enjoy what became a truly marvelous sunrise. Clouds were hanging around the Matterhorn but this made the experience even better.
Europaweg from Zermatt to Täsch
After natures morning show-off at sunrise, we went back to Fluhalp for a proper breakfast before we moved on to ride a part of the infamous "Europaweg" from Zermatt to Täsch. This hiking trail is very popular amongst hikers and it helps a lot to start early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The big chunk of the trail winds down along the mountains without losing too much altitude. Just the last part from Europaweg down to Täsch is steeper and full of fun switchbacks in a pine forest. The views towards Zermatt, the Matterhorn and the surrounding peaks are stunning all along the Europaweg. But have a look yourself.
Zermatt you surprised us once more - we will be back!
Unfortunately, we have to leave the group early and can’t spend another night in Zermatt. But that gives us one more reason to come back. There are so many trails we heard of but didn’t get to ride. See you soon, Zermatt!