Destination Showcase: Austria's Largest Bike Region with Ben Cathro, Vali Höll, Noga Korem, & More

May 10, 2022
by Ross Bell  

Austria’s Largest Bike Region

Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn


Photography & Words: Ross Bell
Riders: Ben Cathro, Michelle Hagleitner, Vali Höll, Noga Korem, Daniela Bauer, Florian Dersch, Markus Hell
Presented by Saalbach



Nestled away in the picturesque Austrian Alps a few hours either side of the cities of Salzburg and Innsbruck is the expansive ski resort of Saalbach-Hinterglemm. With craggy mountain peaks, pine shrouded valleys and Alpine pastures, Saalbach-Hinterglemm is the perfect playground for two wheels. The area encompasses not only the towns of Saalbach and Hinterglemm, but also Fieberbrunn and Saalfelden Leogang in the neighbouring valley - with one lift ticket you gain access to the whole lot, enabling you to lap to your heart's content. (something we took full advantage of!) There's over 80km of lift assisted trail in the area which is split across 7 different mountains meaning you won't be struggling for trail variety. You could even take on "THE CHALLENGE" if you're feeling bold enough... This will see you descend close to 6000m as you take in the entirety of the region, sampling Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Fieberbrunn, and Leogang in just a single day. Of course that's not for everyone and there's certainly nothing wrong with a more relaxed approach; riding as much or as little as you want, stopping in the mountain huts to feast on kaiserschmarrn, and taking in the nature of this beautiful part of the World.


Saalbach-Hinterglemm


For our three days of riding we based ourselves in Saalbach and were lucky enough to be joined each day by a couple of local riders who were able to show us the best of what the region has to offer. We met up with Michelle Hagleitner at her family bike shop in Saalbach before opening our account on "Panorama Trail", a mellow flow trail with plenty of berms and tables which will have a wide variety of riders and abilities grinning from ear to ear. We then linked up with Vali Höll (who calls Saalbach home) and Noga Korem who were running fashionably late before heading onto the other side of the valley to take in two Saalbach classic in "Hacklberg" and "Bergstadl". The extensive and modern lift facilities made linking up the trails effortless, ensuring maximum fun. We started on the slightly easier but no less entertaining "Hacklberg" which was fast and flowy throughout and seemingly went on for an eternity. It's 5.5km in length and has 600m of descending but if feels like it could be even more as they've made great use of each metre of hillside. The top has a slightly wild high alpine feel to it before it ducks into the tree line later on with a rollercoaster of berms which generated all sorts of weird and wacky riding as we raced each other before stopping at a mountain hut for lunch. After gorging on all sorts of food and drink I was thankful I didn't need to turn a pedal, instead we clambered into the Westgipfel gondola which scooped us back up to the start of the "Bergstadl", one of the techiest trails in Saalbach. It instantly had a rougher and more rugged feel to the other Saalbach trails we'd ridden, the trail is narrower and littered with plenty of rocks and roots which will keep even the most advanced of riders on their toes. It quickly became one of our favourites from the trip. The "Buchegg Trail" then took us back to the valley floor where we span back to our accommodation before heading out for dinner and onto Fieberbrunn and Leogang the following day.


Nestled away in the Austrian Alps is the resort of Saalbach-Hinterglemm, a destination that should be on every rider's hit list.

The mountain views around here are rather hard to beat. What a place to ride your bike!

The extensive and modern lift network makes linking up the trails effortless.

We eased into things on the mellow but super enjoyable Panorama Trail.

Flowing through the tall pines.

Michelle showing us how it's done on the tables of Panorama.

Saalbach might be "The home of Lassig" but it's also the home of downhill World Cup phenomenon Vali Holl.

EWS racer Noga Korem get to grips with the steep and technical Bergstadl Trail, one of our favourites from our time in the area.

Michelle takes charge at the front during the first section of Bergstadl.

The last chance to take in the view before diving into the roots and rocks hidden in the trees.

Noga, stylish both on and off the bike.

Vali leading out the train down Bergstadl.

Noga making light work of one of the techiest parts of Bergstadl.

Cathro does his best to keep on Vali's wheel.

Vali rather aptly looked at home on the trails here. It was great to watch her ripping out with the race tape.

A leisurely lunch stop in one of many mountain huts...

...and leaving a little heavier than when you went in!

Some atmospheric conditions rolled in which made the scenery look that little bit more epic.

A quick stop for a hot drink and to plan the day's riding.

Next up, X-Line!

Dreamy turns from top to bottom.

Ben Cathro gapping his way down X-Line.

Michelle's family run a bike shop in town so who better to show us the trails.

It doesn't get more breathtaking than that. We weren't sure whether to look at the scenery or the trail at times!

Pedalling towards lunch.

The mountain hut lunch stops quickly became a highlight of the day.

It was also great to bump into the maintenance crew who were out making sure the trails continued to run sweet.

It almost seems like a remote high alpine trail... but this piece of single track perfection can be accessed with the ease of a lift.

After starting in the open you quickly find yourself in the trees until you reach the valley floor.

You can't come to a bike park without railing some wooden wall rides.

Michelle leads us back towards town.

Note: imagining the crazy golf features are bike jumps does not work.

The kaiserschmarrn count from our three days in Saalbach was rather high.

Fieberbrunn and Saalfelden Leogang

Leogang should need no introduction having played host to World Cups and World Championships aplenty, but a little over 15 minutes down the road is the lesser known Fieberbrunn which is the area's up and coming spot with one of the newest trails which is what we'd be sampling before heading to Leogang later in the afternoon. We were joined by some fresh faces in Florian Dersch and Markus Hell who showed us the hot lines on the brand new "Schweinestberg Trail". Fieberbrunn had a slightly different taste to what we'd experienced in Saalbach with a greener forest surrounding us and a reddish dirt beneath our wheels. This is a great spot for families and beginners with the "Easy Park Obingleitn" and pump track there for those looking to hone their skills before tackling the bike park. The "Schweinestberg Trail's" 4km of sweeping turns, bumps and jumps are classed as easy but I think both experts and novices would enjoy it, especially if you're in the area. We then moved onto Leogang which is somewhere we'd all spent a lot of time before, albeit I'd never ridden there. Cathro was desperate to ride "Hot Shots" which is one of the lines with the biggest jumps and features in the area, you'll certainly get your air time fix on this one! Flo and Markus led the way with Ben in tow, the three of them throwing shapes at every opportunity until we reached the mid station where we ditched the bikes and then sampled a little more of what Leogang has to offer, nervously suiting up for The Flying Fox. Thankfully, it's not as intimidating as it looks and more than anything else is a great way to take in the epic mountain surroundings of Leogang. After taking to Austrian airspace we continued to surf the adrenaline wave and sampled a few more bike park classics like "Bongo Bongo" before finishing on the more natural and enduro style "Forsthof Trail". It was then time to chill out with a few beers as the sun sank behind the mountains, rounding off our time in Saalbach-Hinterglemm in perfect style.

Fieberbrunn was our next destination.

Warming up for the day's action.

The Schweinestberg Trail has just opened in 2021 and is well worth a visit.

Flo finding the flow on one of many laps.

Markus takes the lead on one of the lower sections of the Schweinestberg Trail.

The boys excited to tackle Hot Shots in Leogang.

Markus towing Ben through the top section.

Cathro going big on one of many lips on Hot Shots.

The features on Hot Shots are some of the biggest in the area.

All smiles after another lap.

Whose table is better? Markus or Ben?

Quick flashes of the epic mountain views between the trees.

Then there were two. Unfortunately Markus had a pretty big crash and had to sit out the afternoon's activities.

Ben and Florian take in the sights and scenes.

Tackling the more enduro style trails that Leogang has to offer.

There are trails to suit every rider's tastes and skills.

The Forsthof trail was our final one of the trip and a good one to end on.

Nervous moments for Ben before the Flying Fox.

Florian showing us how it's done as he accelerates up to 130km/h high above the valley floor.

Thank you Saalbach-Hinterglemm, we'll certainly be back!


Local Knowledge


Getting here:
Saalbach
Leogang
Fieberbrun

Local Mountain Biking Groups:
The Bikeclub Leogang aims to develop the downhill mountain bike sport and offers a suitable training structure to support local talents; starting with the 1st trainings of our youngest generation, up to professional race support of our Rock Race Team.

Guiding:
For guided tours in Saalbach
For guided tours in Leogang
For guided tours in Fieberbrun.

Food and Drink:
Hungry bikers all have the same goal: They head in the direction of one of the numerous guest friendly huts and managed Alpine pastures in Austria’s largest bike region . Hut classics such as Kasnocken, Kaiserschmarrn, homemade soup or simply a traditional Brettljause (snack) provide culinary delights up on the mountains surrounding Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang and Fieberbrunn.

Must Dos:
For more activities in Saalbach
For more activities in Leogang
For more activities in Fieberbrunn




Regions in Article
Saalbach Hinterglemm


28 Comments

  • 26 1
 Austria is one of the worst destinations for mountainbiking.
They have a few great spots/bikeparks, but riding is fined VERY HIGH everywhere..... Even of forest-roads. A true real-life joke.
If you want to ride the alps, go Italy, Switzerland or France.
  • 3 0
 thats what ive been reading when looking at anything austria mtb
  • 1 0
 I hear kithrup has some sweet trails
  • 3 0
 Luckily the Austrians have an attitude that unreasonable rules are not to be followed, life's too short for that.
  • 5 0
 @JudgeJor: Letzte Stufe einer österreichischen Verhandlungsführung: "Oida, geh scheissn."
  • 1 0
 @JudgeJor: Not true, dependent on the region, I had beef with a lot of forest rangers. And it's just not fun when riding downhill and knowing hikers can be behind each corner.
  • 1 0
 @cpdp: For me, the hikers have been fine, might be good to keep it down a bit when charging down a hiking trail. Brake and say hi. Trails too steep to walk on are better. Haven't met any rangers or hunters so lucky me!
  • 27 1
 This is one of the best articles that I've seen in a while. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for not putting this behind a paywall.
  • 3 2
 yep, it's been a while since a PB "original" like this, perfect for reading at the office, most of articles like these are going to Beta unfortunately.
  • 8 0
 Well, it's an advert?
  • 4 0
 Who would put advertisements behind a paywall?
  • 8 0
 So... when are they going to do something about the braking bumps, that rattle your teeth loose on every trail there is in Saalbach-Hinterglemm? Even when the season starts, they are as bad as they were, when the season ended the year before.
Plus: Keep in mind, that you will have to book some kind of accommodation for your stay, as you can't just park somewhere with your camper and stay for the night. Only very few camp sites.
Illegal camping is prohibited and causes high fines.
Leogang charges more than 20,- € per night to stay on their camp-site aka car park. The only difference to the car park 2 meters next to it is, that you can have electric power for your camper. No extra showers, or toilets.
The showers for the car park/camp site close at 17:30h, so hurry up, if you want to clean yourself after the ride.
Saalbach-H. doesn't offer the "Joker-Card" any longer, which came with almost every accommodation, that let you use the lifts in S-H for free + one ride in Leogang. There is just a discount on the day pass now. Accommodation prices stayed the same, though.
I really like riding in S-H and Leogang, don't get me wrong, but the infrastructure for MTB riders there... let's say it leaves room for improvement.

You have to be aware, that most (90%) of the trails in S-H are man-made and are suitable for families. That doesn't make them any less fun to ride, but you shouldn't expect more than that.
If you like more natural trails, I'd recommend the X-Line & Bergstadl trail in S-H, or the enduro trails in Leogang which are really nice.
  • 6 0
 I liked Saalbach for the JokerCard, that was a great deal. Now there is no reason to go there anymore. Home of breaking bumps is expensive and full
  • 4 0
 Not to mention that in the summer 50% of weather forecast is like "a storm with heavy rain" Wink Love the scenery, but it's not the best place to ride a bike. And those bumps are a nightmare, maybe they should be sponsored by some suspension manufacturer, so instead of fixing them they could just earn on adverts of e.g. newest Fox or EXT Wink
  • 6 0
 @Saalbach, why don’t you keep the trails more natural? You are building boring highways into the nature, just because the everyone Joe can ride and pay for it. Why following the same path like skiing started 30-40 Years ago? Why not staying closer to nature and Promote a pure mountainbiking as a product to sell? Your mountains and your nature are less shaped much more beautiful.... and the families can also learn to ride more technical trails. Your marketing consultant prob say different, but are they really having the very long-term perspective in their interest or rather short-term money? Your long-term value should be pure nature.
  • 1 0
 This place is literally made for German families. So I think they are doing it wisely, the unhappy minority may as well go elsewhere. Their job is to maximise profit. I would definitely like more natural trails there, there are like 3 now in the whole region? (not counting flat wurzen or that one deep in the valley which goes for max 1km and then you loos 500m of elevation on fireroads burning your pads to death).
  • 5 0
 Saalbach, Sölden, Lenzerheide and many more are ski destinations which fear the end of winter and try to create a similar mainstream mass market offer for the summer.
  • 5 3
 Magnificent mountains and great potential for sick trails but 9 out of 10 trails there are boring generic bike park highways. Go to Slovenia or even Croatia for better trails.
  • 3 0
 Timely, I'm heading here for the world cup next month.

Gonna have a couple of day here then head to Nauders, Paganella, VDS & Livigno
  • 4 0
 Choose a postcard. Choose your reality.
  • 1 0
 So you're saying Cathro went to Leogang and didn't ride Hangman I and the DH? Well at least some images captured the source of the name Home of Braking bump for S H
  • 1 0
 Ben, will there be any Walk the Talk Episodes this year?
  • 5 0
 Walk the Talk has evolved into Pinkbike Racing, and there will be a whole series of Ben racing and mentoring young up and coming riders on the world cup circuit. That reminds me I owe Max feedback for EP1.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Thanks, looking forward to it.
  • 3 3
 When cathro at 7' tall is buzzing his butt on a 29” wheel, I think I'll stick with my mullet.
  • 4 1
 By that stupid calculation you have to ride a 24'' back wheel.
  • 1 0
 @fred-frod: exactly! @mcozzy just make sure your strong enough and try to not overshoot the jumps?
  • 1 0
 home of the jerry





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