In Tirol’s Wild West, high above the shores of the spectacular Lake Reschensee, lies what was once an insider tip among Tirol’s trailriding community but has now gained an enviable reputation throughout the region and beyond. Where Austria, Italy and Switzerland converge, a trails network known as the 3-Country Enduro Trails has become one of the most popular destinations for enduro enthusiasts in Tirol. In the first in a series of reviews checking out some of the best trailriding regions in Tirol, I will take a closer look at the area around Nauders.
From 10 to 11 June 2017, the village of Nauders near the Reschen Pass will host one of the first big events of the mountainbike season as it welcomes the Alutech Green Days. I had the chance to test the trails in this region where Austria, Italy and Switzerland meet. Without wanting to give too much away, I can assure you that this was not my last visit to Nauders!
Getting there: a long journey, but worth it
Admittedly, Nauders is not the easiest of places to get to. In fact, those wishing to travel using public transport will soon see that it is pretty much impossible to get there without a car. However, the long drive – around one and a half hours from Innsbruck – along the Inntal Valley and up towards the Italian border is worth it. The final bit of the journey to Nauders winds its way through a beautiful landscape approaching the Reschen Pass, where Austria meets Italy. Next time I come I will plan an extra half an hour for a visit to the old military post built spectacularly into the rocks in a canyon that you pass just before reaching Nauders.
Nauders is a region popular with tourists and therefore offers a wide range of accommodation. Visit booking.nauders.com to check out the 204 hotels and other options available.
In the village itself there are a number of specialist mountainbike hotels with infrastructure and services adapted to the needs of riders. For a complete list of specialist bike accommodation in Nauders (and the rest of Tirol) visit www.tyrol.com/accommodation-for-cyclists.
Those who prefer a little more freedom will find a number of campsites in and around Nauders. There are also plenty of hire shops and bike schools offering equipment and guiding. This service is available seven days a week in summer. For more information visit www.nauders.com
Trails: enduro or all-mountain?
Visitors wishing to make the most of the 3-Country Enduro Trails should choose either an enduro or an all-mountain bike, although there are some trails (like most on the Mutzkopf mountain) with only a few transfer passages where full-on downhill bikes can also be great fun. I myself went for an all-mountain bike and certainly didn’t regret my choice.
Nauders currently offers 18 trails which can be accessed using four cable cars. The range of riding on offer really is breathtaking – from fun beginner trails to adrenaline-pumping sections of singletrack for experienced riders. I recommend combining all the trails together to make a circular loop. The car park at the bottom of the Schönebenbahn cable car is the ideal starting point. A day pass for all the cable cars can be bought there.
Schöneben Trail: roots and flow
After taking the Schönebenbahn cable car up onto the mountain, the action begins with a thrilling descent along the Schöneben Trail – particularly challenging in wet conditions thanks to the many sections of roots in the forest, but also with plenty of flow from top to bottom. After around a third of the trail, riders have the option of turning off left towards the 3-Länder-Trail. However, this does entail a transfer passage which leads gently uphill for around 30 minutes. My tip is to stop off at the Reschenhütte hut, which is right next to the trail and offers hearty local food with spectacular views.
3-Länder-Trail: the most fun forest trail in Tirol
Just a few minutes from the Reschenhütte hut is the start of the 3-Länder-Trail. Unfortunately, when I was there my view of the Italian, Swiss and Austrian mountains was restricted due to the cloud and mist, but on a clear day the panorama is amazing. The first highlight on the trail itself is a long wood section raised high above the moorland below. It can be ridden relatively fast and has a great flow to it. This section is followed by a more challenging part leading though the forest to a quiet mountain lake. Last but not least comes a bit which I would call the most fun forest trail I have ever ridden in Tirol, featuring root sections wide enough for 15 different lines, each better than the other. And the best thing about the 3-Länder-Trail – apart from the slightly surreal feeling of riding through three different countries on just one descent – is that it finishes exactly where the Mutzkopf Trails begin.
Mutzkopf: one mountain, four trails
Riders really are spoilt for choice on Mutzkopf mountain, which is home to four different trails. The Elven Trail is the most difficult but should not pose too much of a problem for experienced riders. The Kreuzmoos Trail, Green Trail and Obere Gerry Trail are all rated intermediate. My personal favourite was the Obere Gerry Trail, because it is so much fun to ride. This trail is perfect for riders on all-mountain and enduro bikes. The trail has been designed to make the most of the area‘s natural obstacles, meaning it has absolutely no artificial features. I have seen few other trails which make such great use of the terrain. Mutzkopf also has some great riding for those who prefer a full-on downhill set-up. Transport back up to the top of the mountain is provided not by a cable car but by a two-man chairlift. The members of staff operating the lift are friendly and happy to help riders with their bikes.
I had originally planned to ride a loop around Lake Reschensee, but I had so much fun riding the Mutzkopf trails that I ran out of time! I simply couldn’t resist the temptation of taking the lift back up to the top and ripping back down several times. However, I was still keen to include Bergkastel in my ride. I took the Gerry Trail (keep right) to the bottom of the cable car. The final section of the trail is not that well signposted, but it is easy to see where you are going by keeping an eye out for the cable car. Just before you reach the cable car there is a short section where you have to ride along the main road. My tip is to avoid the (illegal) short-cut through the meadow. What appears to be a jump at the end actually catapults you straight onto the busy main road!
Plamort Trail: via the high plateau to Lake Reschensee
Once at the top of the Bergkastel cable car, riders can take a break and enjoy the view from the large terrace next to the mountain restaurant. Nauders itself lies at almost 1,400 metres above sea level, so the top station of the Bergkastel cable car is at the treeline. In the afternoon there is plenty of sun, which is why I saved this trail for the end of the day. The Plamort Trail may be the last of the day, but this is no time to get tired! The descent is relatively long and includes several pedalling sections. It leads over a high plateau, crossing the Austrian-Italian border and passing old anti-tank barriers and bunkers. The views of the Reschensee lake are spectacular. I would definitely recommend including the Plamort Trail in your trip to Nauders. Massive respect to the trail builders, first and foremost Daniel Tulla. The Plamort Trail finishes more or less directly in the village of Reschen. From there it is just a few minutes on the cycle path along the shore of the Reschensee lake back to the starting point at the car park of the Schönebenbahn cable car.
Haideralm Trail: fitness test
Riders who still have time and the energy can take the Schönebenbahn cable car back up onto the mountain and traverse towards the Haideralm. Here they will find the region’s most challenging trail: the 3.2km Haideralm Trail. Good bike-handling skills are a must on this trail. There are also lots of new variations on the Italian side. I have not had a chance to check these out yet, but I definitely will this year.
One more tip for those planning a ride in Nauders is to keep an eye on the opening times of the cable cars so that you don’t end up at the bottom of a trail without a way of getting back to your starting point. Of course, there is always the option of riding back along the shore of the pretty lake, but with so many top trails to choose from every metre ridden on tarmac is one metre too many! For a good overview of the different trails available visit www.nauders.com
Price: fair and moderate
The region offers four cable cars and 18 trails. The day ticket is very fairly priced at just €29. (Summer 2017)
Nauders has quickly made a name for itself as a bike region with a number of events. I attended the Alutech Yellow Days in autumn 2015 and had a great time. The Alutech Green Days are also a popular meeting point for trailriders at the beginning of the season in June.
Riders wishing to test themselves against others can do so in late August as part of the 3-Länder-Enduro Race. For more information visit www.tyrol.com/e-european-enduro-reschenpass. Apart from these, there aren’t that many bike-related events going on in Nauders.
Conclusion: love at first sight
Perfect natural trails in stunning alpine surroundings: I have fallen head over heels in love with Nauders, which is now my new favourite trailriding location in Tirol! That may be an ambitious statement at the start of this new series of reviewing Tirol’s top trailriding regions, but I will be more than happy to be proven wrong! What I personally like most about the 3-Country Enduro Trails is the fact that you feel like you have the mountain to yourself, and yet at the same at the same time there are so many routes to explore. This is made possible by the huge expanses of terrain and incredible number of trails.
Finally, here is a cool video of trailriding in Nauders:
For an overview of singletrack riding in Tirol visit www.tyrol.com/singletrails