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
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.
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 extensive and modern lift network makes linking up the trails effortless.
Saalbach might be "The home of Lassig" but it's also the home of downhill World Cup phenomenon Vali Holl.
Noga, stylish both on and off the bike.
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.
The mountain hut lunch stops quickly became a highlight of the day.
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 boys excited to tackle Hot Shots in Leogang.
Whose table is better? Markus or Ben?
Ben and Florian take in the sights and scenes.
Nervous moments for Ben before the Flying Fox.
Local Knowledge Getting here: SaalbachLeogang FieberbrunLocal 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