Picking out the region’s best mountain trails is a tricky task, given that all the routes in the Engadin are among the finest in the whole of Switzerland. But we have managed nonetheless, and hereby present our region’s Top Five Tours!
The Engadin’s answer to Route 66 is officially numbered Route 673 and, like the legendary North American highway, is a classic. The trail takes its name from the famous Rhaetian Railway train, which conquers the Bernina Pass via the highest rail crossing in the Alps: the Bernina line, part of UNESCO World Heritage. This railway line forms a constant backdrop, along with the spectacular scenery that has made the trains world-famous. Starting in Samedan, the Bernina Express Tour leads for 37 glorious kilometres over the main ridge of the Alps and into the Valposchiavo through a kaleidoscope of climatic zones, with dramatic views of ever-changing mountain landscapes throughout: no wonder the International Mountain Bike Association has designated this an “Epic Trail”. The route demands a fair level of technique and fitness, but it rewards bikers with an unforgettable ride. From Pontresina, the trail climbs steadily up to the Bernina Pass at an altitude of about 2,200 m. A stop at the Belvedere restaurant up on Alp Grüm is a must before you continue past the sparkling waters of the Lagh da Palü towards Poschiavo. To return to the start, enjoy a leisurely ride on the Rhaetian Railway back up to the Ospizio Bernina, where you can dismount to enjoy the flowing descent to Pontresina – or just stay on the train to admire the magnificent views of the scenery through the carriage windows.
This glorious 34-kilometre tour starts at Celerina railway station with a relaxed ascent of 400 vertical metres up to Alp Laret. And then things get serious: the climbs up to the Glüna mountain hut, past Lej Alv and eventually up to an altitude of 2,400 m are sure to get you into a sweat. Here, by the summit station of the Corviglia funicular, you should give into temptation and pause at the sun terrace of the Quattro bar to savour the magnificent vista (and of course a little refreshment). You will then attack the final 200 vertical metres with new energy; as you loop around the Piz Nair, you enjoy fabulous views of the turquoise lakes and towering peaks of the Engadin. After all these highlights, you reach the climax of the tour: five thrilling kilometres of singletrack down through the Val Suvretta da Samedan as far as Alp Suvretta. Afterwards, the leisurely descent through the dramatic Val Bever provides a delightful conclusion, especially when twinned with a slice of Engadin walnut cake at the Gasthaus Spinas – not to be missed! From here, you complete the Suvretta Loop with a gentle ride to the end of the valley and on to Celerina.
The tour starts a few kilometers south of St. Moritz, in Pontresina. On gravel roads, it goes first in the direction of Bernina Pass where in the past years with pimple and shovel all the coarsest obstacles were cleared out of the way, so that - assuming appropriate technology, power or engine - can run smoothly on trails to the pass. After a short section on the pass road, a trail turns into Val da Fain. At La Stretta, the Italian border is crossed and from now on things get a little rough. First briefly technically uphill and then rather frumpy down to the pass of Livigno. As soon as the biker has Swiss soil under the tires, it continues much more gently. Here, the Upper Engadine Trail Crew has tamed the way so that the driving fun is not lost. On the contrary: on a magnificent single trail you can reach the Fuorcla Minor. It follows a liquid downhill to the Bernina Pass, from where you can relax on the newly built bike trail and flowing downhill flow.
For mountain bikers, Corviglia is synonymous with “flow heaven” – and the best-known flow trail is the unforgettable Corviglia Grand Tour. Mountain bike legend Danny MacAskill adored all 25 kilometres of the rollercoaster adventure: “The descent was like an endless ride on a flying carpet.” See for yourself, starting at the summit of the Piz Nair with a descent through spectacular high-altitude terrain to the Suvretta Pass. The route continues to Munt da San Murezzan, starting point of the famous WM Trail to Chantarella. The funicular carries you up to Corviglia for the steepest climb of the tour: up to the summit station of the Trais Fluors chairlift and on to the singletrack trail. Now, at last, you can enjoy the long downhill: winding across to the Munt da la Bes-cha and finally on to a hairpin trail that zig-zags all the way down to the valley floor.
After the shortest, now the longest of our top tours: the Padella Panorama Tour, a magnificent ride of some 40 kilometres that showcases all the beauty and diversity of the Upper Engadin. The tour is demanding, and takes about 5 hours. Keen riders tackle the challenge in a single day, but the choice of access points along Route 672 also allows you to enjoy this glorious itinerary in stages. The classic starting point is Celerina; after a gentle ride to Samedan, a first climb leads up to Alp Muntatsch. As you follow the panoramic trail, you pass below the towering summit of the Piz Padella, which gives its name to the route; the whole of the Upper Engadin valley lies at your feet. A fast, flowing descent takes you to the top of the Marguns gondola; an energetic climb then brings you back up to the Corviglia summit station. Soon, you can see the village of Silvaplana, way down on the valley floor: the route eventually takes you through it as you cross the high valley, leaving the sunnier side behind you. On the far side, shady forests of Swiss stone pine and atmospheric moorland lakes await before you arrive back in Celerina.
Short and sweet: the phrase could have been coined specially for this delightful new route. The Albula Trail is only 8.6 km long, but it includes all the ingredients of a perfect mountain bike tour. Spectacular mountain scenery provides an inspiring backdrop; 625 vertical metres of descent and a route full of variety promise a flowing and unforgettable trail-surfing experience; and a gastronomic delicacy sweetens your break en route. Anyone planning their first singletrack trail, or who doesn’t have time for a full-day tour, will enjoy the Albula Trail as a half-day or evening ride: exhilarating and great fun. The route starts at an altitude of 2,315 m at the summit of the Albula Pass, by the Albula Hospiz restaurant, which you can reach from La Punt under your own steam or on a leisurely ride up on the “Bus alpin”. A short climb and you’re off: on a flowing downhill trail through an exceptionally charming landscape, full of surprises. The apple strudel at Alp Alesch serves as an unofficial checkpoint stop and provides energy for the gentle ride through a fragrant forest of Swiss stone pine back to La Punt.