Steeped in modern mountain bike history, Saalfelden Leogang
, site of many memorable battles at its Out of Bounds Festival (that combines World Cup downhill) is about far more than competition.
From singletrack to massive jumps and green to black-graded runs, there’s a little of everything to keep most riders happy. When the dust had settled on 2017’s Out of Bounds, we headed back to the Austrian Alps to check out the riding on offer and sample the relaxed vibe of summertime in Saalfelden Leogang.
On arrival our small group – Pinkbike photographer Ben Winder, 2012 downhill World Champion Morgane Charre (a title won on this very hill) and hanger-on James McKnight – was greeted by the information that summer tourism now brings an almost equal number of overnight stays to a winter's ski season. Mountain biking is big.
With that to chew on, we checked-in at one of region’s convenient and not-too-pricey 'bikehotels' at the foot of the mountain and sipped a beer while looking over the pumptrack and learner trails, still bustling with riders in the early evening. (If you're on a budget there’s also plenty of cheaper accommodation in the valley, there's also abundant campervan parking and showers a stone’s throw from the hill.)
Now the niceties are over with, let’s get to the good stuff: the riding.
With one main gondola lift split into two sections (lower and upper), as well as a T-bar lift and magic carpet for learners and kids, access to Bikepark Leogang’s trails is simple. The lower main lift is open from early May until November, with full opening mid-May to mid-October. That’s a long season by any Alpine resort’s standards.
We kitted up and made our way to the very top of the hill to sample Hangman 1 and 2 – an endless descent taking in light tech, fun jumps and massive berms. Next up, Hot Shots – a wide machine-build track cut into the hillside and incorporating some fair-sized but manageable jumps, gentle gradient and more massive berms (note a theme here). Both tracks are a lot of fun and rideable for most abilities.
On the lower slopes, Speedster
(the World Cup track), Flying Gangster
(a mix of jumps and massive berms) and Bongo Bongo
(rooty tech in the trees with a splattering of north-shore wood) provide variety and the odd tricky test for riders searching a challenge. At the very foot of the mountain, these trails converge into the arena-like bowl among the jump lines and the north shore park, the Lumberjack trail and Lumberjack line.
We stayed busy for a good few days and greatly appreciated the ease of rolling out of the (bike friendly) hotel onto a lift, cruising back for snack and water stops and spectating the endless energy of the kids riding until after sunset. This very reasoning makes Saalfelden Leogang a great family resort too – mum and dad can take turns at laps of the bike park while the other looks over the kids shredding their own mini bike park aptly known as the 'Riders Playground'.
While it doesn’t have the sheer number of trails or difficulty level of some Alpine alternatives, as a road trip stop-off or a weeklong family vacation there are few destinations as relaxed and well prepared as Leogang.Quickcheck Leogang
• Adult day pass €41 (decent discounts on multi-day passes). Four-hour passes, teen and kids rates also available
• Open May 10 to Nov 04 (full opening May 19-Oct 14)
• Lift hours 9am-4.30pm
• Tickets are already valid from 3pm on the previous day
• Fly to Munich, Salzburg or Innsbruck
• Bike rental, repairs, shop and coaching available at Sport Mitterer
• Small supermarket near lift and hotels. Short drive to bigger shop
• Saalfelden (10 mins drive form Leogang) has a range of shops, cafés and restaurants
• Main trails: Hangman 1; Hangman 2; Hot Shots; Speedster; Flying Gangster; Bongo Bongo; several beginner trails at foot of mountain in the riders playground
• Range of accommodation bike specific 'bikehotels' from budget to luxury
• Camping in campervans permitted in main parking area
• Nightlife can get rowdy on World Cup weekend… otherwise calm, fun, friendly resort