“No you can’t go up there, there is still snow.” (said in your best Swiss German English)
It’s late May in Switzerland, one week out from the start of Summer and the trails in Davos are covered in snow.
Not the best start to a weekend layover, in one of the most visually stunning countries that I have been to.
While heeding the advice, my riding partner rand I pushed on, taking the ‘Schaltzalp’ funicular up to the top, only to be caught in huge snow drifts and a light dusting of snow, after only a couple of hundred metres of riding.
Time to call it a day.
Research and local knowledge from the hotel concierge gives us another option. The Rinerhorn gondola just happened to start its summer service that weekend and was below the snow line, to avoid any major snow drifts. Given our time in Davos was running out, we headed towards the station with a map in hand and eye on the clouds.
The Davos region is a vast network of interconnected trails shared by both hikers and riders alike. There are hundreds of kilometres of trails for mountain bikers with both a high alpine and wooded singletrack all the way through the valley. Switzerland in fact is littered with trails, be it hiking trails, bike trails or just farmers tracks, that have been cut into high mountain passes and crisscross through the valleys. For many years these trails have been successfully shared amongst it many users.
Our map was one of the best ride maps I have used. The map, by Hallwag is a coloured topo map with clearly marked trails, waterproof paper and 1:50,000 scale. This map was specific for riders with suggested routes, climbing elevations, distances and time frames. It made for planning very easy. If you are riding in Switzerland, these maps are perfect for planning and on the trail.
We selected the Monstein Trail Number 335. Which we started from the top of the Rinerhorn cable car, down through the small village of Monstein and back to the bottom of of the cable car station. All up, it was about a 25km loop, ideal for a morning ride and just enough time before the weather rolled in.
The trail was technical in nature, exposed above the tree line, with a number of snow drifts and streams to maneouvre through and rooty through the forests as we descended into Monstein. It was all that you would expect from a alpine trail in Switzerland.
The below video gives you a rider’s view of the trail in question. A flowy alpine trail of which there are hundreds of kilometres of these trails dotted around the Davos Klosters area.
We flew into Zurich and hired a car, heading south from Zurich and following the signs to Davos. The world renown Swiss train system also has connections up the valley to Davos and beyond. Whilst we did not use it, we did see the Post Bus in action, where you can load you bike on the bike racks on the back of the bus to get you around the mountain villages. Local resorts should take note.
We stayed at the Hilton in Davos during a very quiet time of the year (late May). A good central location in this refurbished hotel. There are plenty of accommodation choices for riders during the summer. Davos is a massive resort/city with plenty of restaurants, pubs, bars and shopping, even in summer.
For traditional fare, we sampled plenty of cheese dishes at the Pulsa Fonduestube @ Hotel Grischa – highly recommended if you are looking for quality food options, without the tourist kitsch.
There are 6 bike shops in Davos that were well kitted out with bikes and accessories. Try this link for locations. For our bike setups, we were riding 5″ travel, Scott Genius’ (29″ and 27.5″). These bikes was ideal for the terrain and location.