On the last evening of Trail Days in Kransjka Gora we met a lovely Swiss couple (Nik and Daniela) who were camping in the same freedom camping area next to the river as us. Hana had been on a ride with Daniela as part of the Specialized Women’s Ambassador Rides so we got chatting. Daniela and Nik invited us to visit them in Switzerland if we passed near their home town of Lenk later in the year. In the middle of July we were in their area and had a week to kill so we decided to take them up on their offer. To date visiting their little piece of paradise in the middle of the Swiss Alps tops any other biking destination we have been to, big call we know, but it was truly an amazing week. The local people were warm and welcoming, the food was amazing, the single track was a superb mixture of all natural flow and tech and the surrounding mountains were awe inspiring. We can not wait to get back to Lenk in the near future!
The beauty of the small quaint town of Lenk to any English speaking tourist, and in particular as a mountain biker is that it has not been discovered. Not even a little bit by mountain bikers from Switzerland let-alone the rest of Europe and beyond. In fact, not counting for Nik, Daniela and their friends we met only one other mountain biker the whole time. This let us roam the trials on our own, not needing to worry about that a pack of ‘Park Rats’ that might shred past us at any given moment. There was never a queue for the lifts and we didn’t see a single braking bump on any of the tracks. Note, you still need to be careful to watch out for locals hiking on the tracks, especially on the weekends!
When we arrived on the Friday morning we opted to get a 3 day pass for the gondolas for 65 CHF each, we then had to pay 5 CHF for each day we took our bikes on the lifts for a total of 80 CHF for the 3 days, which is pretty damn cheap. The lifts have not had mountain bike racks installed to date and therefore you need to take the bike into the gondola with you. If people start to hear about how epic the trails around Lenk are they will need to do something about this asap!
On our first ride we did a short tour that left from the top of the Lenk-Stross Bahn to complete a loop under Furflue and back into Lenk.
On Friday nights the Metschberg gondola runs until 9pm. When Nik and Daniela finished work they met up with us to do a few laps of Metschberg and finished the day with some delicious fondue made from local cheese next to the snow-making reservoir while watching the sun go down over the mountains & drinking a local brew too.
On the Sunday Nik took us on a tour of six of his favorite trails surrounding Lenk to complete a total of 6000m of decent, including a bakery stop for a top up with sweet treats, a coffee stop to fuel up on caffeine and finishing at the local pub, ‘Elk’, for a cold beverage. We were lucky enough to have Mario and Janic from the local bike shop “Sputnik” join us for the day. We had a ripper of a time and possibly one of the best days riding I have experienced in Europe!
Below is a map showing the six tracks that we completed, they link perfectly between the two gondolas on either side of the valley allowing for a variety of riding on different tracks ranging from fast flow to steep tech, we have included links to all the different tracks so you can download them & find them yourselves if you so desire.
The first track; Track 1 of the Grand Tour of Lenk departs from the top of the Metschberg gondola heading eastwards. It runs into a steep decent down sharp switchbacks with loose gravel requiring a reasonable level of control and ability. The trail then cuts across and along the west side of a valley to emerge next to a small hut. From the hut the trail descends down a meadow and a 4WD track to link into another epic steep technical trail that leads to the valley floor. Find the link to the track here – http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/NTM5NzY4NQ==
Track 2 descends down past the Metschberg snow making pond to follow consecutive hiking paths with multiple stair sets, tight corners and switch backs. This track finishes near the centre of Lenk allowing for a quick bakery stop before crossing town to catch the lift on the opposite side of town, the Lenk-Stoss lift. To download the link & experience it for yourself go here – http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/NTM5ODMxOQ==
Track 3 is a perfect mix of flow and tech, with nothing that is too difficult allowing you to carry good speed the whole way. Getting to the start of the good part of the track requires an uphill ride from the end of the gondola and a descent through a meadow (with no marked track) and down a 4WD track. Once you reach the single track the traverse is worth every second! Download the link to the track here – http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/NTM5OTgxMA==
Track 4 is back on the Metschberg side of the valley. The track starts down a steep ridgeline with a few ultra tight switchbacks. The trail then goes through two fast flowey forest sections to reach the valley floor. From the end of track 4 the tour crosses town again to the Lenk-Stoss lift. Here is the track file to download – http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/NTQwMDY0Nw==
Track 5 was my favorite track on the tour, shorter than the other trails, it does not lack in quality. Starting from the middle station of the Lenk-stoss lift the trail descends mostly through the forest to arrive back at the base of the Lenk-stoss lift. The combination of tech and flow on this trail through the forest with steep roll-overs and an abundance of loam reminded me of riding in Rotorua, NZ. To find this track & download the details, click here – http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/NTQwMTAyNw==
Track 6, although not all ride-able, is a good way to finish the day. The track descends down into a beautiful gorge from the top of the Lenk-stoss lift. From the end of the trail ride into town for a refreshing beer at the Elk Bar! Download the track & experience it for yourself here – http://my.viewranger.com/track/details/NTU4NTkwNg==
If you want a break from riding for a day or two while in Lenk there are plenty of hiking trails leading out of the valley. Nik and Daniela recommended hiking to the top of Wildstrubel (3,243m high).
We completed the hike in two days, hiking to Fluhsee (mountain lake) on the first day where we spent the night camping next to the lake at 2050m. The sunset across the French Alps was amazing and lit up the cliffs behind the lake.
In the morning we hiked the remaining 1200m to the summit of Wildstrubel. On a good day you can see Matterhorn from the top of Wildstrubel, unfortunately it was cloudy when we reached the summit. We could however still view the expanse of the glaciers surrounding the peak and the wild waterfalls emerging from under the glacier.
Note if you don’t have camping gear you can book to stay in the huts along the way, in the area there is the Fluesee Hutte at 2049m or the WIldstrubel Hutte at 2791m, they are super cute, very impressive how they utilise the small amount of space & accommodate multiple people & it’s a great way to experience the mountains along with meet fellow hikers.
If you are thinking of doing a hiking, biking or mountain trip near Switzerland you should definitely add Lenk to your itinerary! If biking is high on your priority list, Nik and Daniela run a bike guiding, and mountain bike skills company after work and on the weekends. If you want to get the most out of your time in Lenk then we would recommend that you get in touch with them through their website – www.trailstar.ch or on email at – firstname.lastname@example.org.