Dolomites Mountain Biking
Italy’s Val Gardena, or Gröden in German, is one of Italy’s most famous ski destinations. But it is certainly not just for skiing, and it is only Italy by location – for this is a special valley where the look & feel is much closer to its more Germanic northern neighbors. Here, the Dolomiti are the Dolomiten – you will see and hear more German and the local Ladin than Italian, yet the food and overall flavor is distinctly that of Italy – it is the best of all worlds. Amongst it all, the Val Gardena is rapidly becoming a premier destination for mountain biking.
Seems the valley’s Tourism Offices, recognizing the value that mountain bike tourism brings, have started making the region very friendly to knobby tire athletes. An abundance of trails, mountain huts, ski lifts for those not wanting to ride so much uphill, and some of the most stunning scenery in the entire Dolomites makes the area truly worthy of a visit. And so we have started to explore and can now confirm, superb.
Where to Go in Val Gardena?
Between the villages of Selva and Ortisei (Wolkenstein and St. Ulrich) are countless hotels, and this is a great place to basecamp. Lifts run from this end of the valley up to Seceda, Alpe di Siusi and Col Reiser – all key access points for trails. For a quiet, car free location, look into staying up on the Alpe di Siusi (Seiseralm) itself.
June – early October, although June might still be wet and snowy depending on the spring, and August could be so full of tourists you will be better off leaving your bike in the valley and walking with everyone else. August, in my opinion, is not the month to see the Dolomites if a peaceful mountain experience is desired.
Biking and Hiking in the Val Gardena
Time to be honest… the mountain biking in the Dolomites is great, but with the massive trail system, a plethora of options, and loads of dirt roads thrown into the mix, the first time visitor is going to be overwhelmed and likely thinking, “Hey, I saw all these great photos of beautiful trails, but where, and which, are they?” We have had the good fortune of being shown by locals the best trails to ride, and so for the visitor, I would suggest doing the same – getting a mountain bike guide. It will save time and insure the best experience, not to mention prevent excessive bike carrying and pushing.
This is not the website for detailed route descriptions and GPS coordinates. Our goal is to inspire a visit to the area and provide some services information for the next step. But, as mentioned above, key riding areas for the Val Gardena are:
Alpe di Siusi (Seiseralm) including the traverse around to the Sella Pass via the Citta di Sassi (dirt roads). The entire high plateau provides moderate and brilliant mountain biking tours with incredible views to the Sassolungo (Langkofel). Monte Pana is a good starting point.
Col Raiser – the entire upper plateau around the Rifugio Firenze (Regensburger Hut). Either ride up or take the gondola from near Selva (Wolkenstein).
Seceda – From Ortisei (St. Ulrich), take the Seceda gondola only to the mid-station, exit and ride dirt roads and trails to the Rifugio Rasciesa (Raschotz Hut) then the breathtaking path to Rifugio Brogles (Brogles Hut).
WARNING: This is a very popular hiking destination as well and the trails need to be shared. There is a proposal to restrict mountain bikes to dirt roads only within the Dolomites – we don’t want to lose our trail access. Ride with respect.
Hiking & Peak Bagging in the Dolomites Val Gardena
Mountain biking can be limiting in what it allows you access to in the very rugged, complicated Dolomites. One of our favorite things to do to take advantage of all the un-rideable terrain is to pedal in to a hut, lock the bikes, swap cycling for running shoes, and head up the big peaks. A few key ones to put on the list are the Montijela (via Selva and Rifugio Firenze), the Sasso Piatto (via Alpe di Siusi) for its position & endless views and of course the gem, the Sas Rigais’ Via Ferrata – a big, committing undertaking (Guide recommended- see below).
Recommended Val Gardena / Gröden Services
Mountain Biking Guides : DolomiteBiking.com – our closest friends, the very one’s who showed us around. Locals know best.
Tour Operator Service : Holimites.com – specializing in active, mountain sport visits to the Dolomites
Tourism Office : Val Gardena Tourism
Bike Shop for Info & Rentals : Dolomiti Adventures
Val Gardena Cycling Events
The Sellaronda Hero is probably the highlight for mountain biking. An absolutely brutal course of 82km with 4200 meters of climbing – touted as Europe’s hardest mountain bike race.
The Sellaronda Bike Day: while not just for mountain bikers, but all cyclists, this is a special day each summer where the Dolomites roads are closed to cars throughout the famous Sellaronda loop. Bikes only = paradise. 16,000 cyclists make their way to the region for this day.
Have you been to Val Gardena? We would love to hear your experience – please use the Comments section on this post to share your thoughts – thanks.
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