Top 10 mountain bike rides in the Alps

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Saint-Luc, Switzerland

High in the giddy, vertical world of the Anniviers valley, Saint-Luc offers quintessential Swiss singletrack set against seriously stunning backdrops. A small but hardcore park adds some adrenaline to the mix. The small resort of Saint-Luc isn’t an obvious choice in this area: it’s nearby Zermatt, which has the most famous backdrops and singletracks in the business, while Crans-Montana in the Sierre valley below has the established park scene. However, the riding at Saint-Luc is every bit as good, both in the park and out in the wilds. The funicular uplift is open much earlier than its neighbours, and the sunny slopes mean dry and dusty trails by early spring, so you can get your big-mountain singletrack fix before the main biking season really kicks off.

Recommended route Balcony trail

From the top of the funicular follow the signs to the Hôtel Weisshorn. It’s not a particularly exciting climb up the firetrack, but the views up towards the Weisshorn and Bishorn are staggering. Once you reach the hotel, climb up to your left and on to the balcony trail heading towards Zinal. Big-mountain singletracks don’t get any more epic than this, with the rocky terrain and huge glaciers beyond feeling more like the Himalayas. Continue along this line until you see a small track on your right zigzagging through the meadows and on to a firetrack. After a couple of corners take a right turn, following signs for Saint-Luc. This lovely rolling singletrack is so thick with deep red pine needles that it’s like riding along a big soft ginger beard. When you reach the small chalets take a left and drop down through the forest to La Combaz before cruising back along the road into Saint-Luc.

Lift dates
The funicular at Saint-Luc is open from the end of May (€10 lift up plus €4 for mountain bike) and the area also features a bike park, while the other resorts in the valley usually open from July onwards.

Where to stay
The Hôtel Beausite has clean, comfortable rooms, helpful staff and great views over the valley for around €170 a night. Another good (and more affordable) option is the Camping d’Anniviersin the town of Vissoie lower down the valley, where you can get a pitch for your tent for around €10. From here you can take a bus or drive up to Saint-Luc, which takes around 15 minutes.

Eating and drinking
A popular venue is the Fougère bar and pizzeria not far from the funicular. The food is simple and tasty, plus it’s also a clean, friendly but basic B&B. Doubles from €96, hotelrestaurantlafougere.com.

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