Where to start with describing the mountain bike utopia that is Vallnord Bike Park
Unless you’ve been living in an incredibly deep hole, you’ll probably know Vallnord for its steep-as World Cup downhill track and the many wild moments it brings to each season of Red Bull TV viewing. But a lot more (I mean a hell of a lot) goes on in summertime in this corner of Andorra.
To give an overview of the place, Vallnord is the bike park that sits on a mountaintop above the town of La Massana, which is one of a handful of towns in the principality (and, ahem, tax haven) of Andorra. This micro country of fewer than 80,000 permanent inhabitants (its population swells in winter and summer) is wedged between Spain and France, it is covered in stunning peaks of up to nearly 3,000 meters, and its official language is Catalan (though its residents have varied backgrounds and Spanish, French, Portuguese and English are all spoken here too).
Among the streets of La Massana on any sunny day (there are plenty of them), mountain bikers can be found in their throngs. The bike park season is mid-May until mid-October, but Andorra’s riders hit the trails as soon as the winter’s snow recedes. Once Vallnord Bike Park’s lifts open, the town is inundated with mountain bikers of every sort. And the place is set up for it: accommodation is cheap and plentiful, bars and restaurants inviting, bike shops are set up for rentals and repairs of all types, and most of all, the park is amazing.
Cruising out of the valley on La Massana’s big gondola lift, you soon arrive at a small plateau at 1900 meters, which is the main hub for Vallnord’s riding (this can also be accessed by car, but it’s nice to finish the day with a blast back down into town). Here, you are greeted by a decent asphalt pump track directly out of the lift, a well-stocked spares, rental and retail shop, restaurant and bike park office. There is also a well set up bike school based here. This infrastructure is reassuring: you can just tell they have it dialled in Vallnord.
The trail maps are well documented and easy to follow.
Looking across to the main mountain, it is pretty apparent that you aren’t going to get bored even after a week of riding. There are tracks everywhere! With two main chairlifts to access trails up here, the possibilities are never-ending. Dozens of difficulty-graded tracks litter the slopes, with everything from short kids’ runs to full-on World Cup DH, and more or less everything in-between.
We visited in October to sample some late-season Andorran sunshine and dusty tracks. Dropping down from the main gondola into the bike park, we rode more-or-less straight into the steep tech and rock rolls of the trails called ‘Wood Park 2’ and ‘Project 1.0’, an eyes-wide-open introduction to Vallnord’s riding. Of course, we could have chosen a blue- or green-graded option to warm up, but we were bloke-ing it so preferred fear and a slew of puncture repairs to limber up.
We eventually arrived at the foot of the La Serra 2 chairlift, which is where the big fun really starts. From here, the world is your oyster. There are fun runs scattered with berms and jumps, hour-long enduro-style descents that head off the back of the mountain from the peak of the ‘El Cubil’ chairlift (2,350 meters), and even an e-bike circuit has now opened for those riders. Back down the mountain, the descent from the bike park to La Massana is also amazing – a choice of routes offers turns and jumps and steeps in abundance. The perfect way to arrive at the bar full of stoke.
We met up with the guys at Production Privee, whose offices are just a stone's throw from the lift station.
Our guide, Javi is in charge of the Bike Park and Bike Patrol here in Andorra.
In total, Vallnord’s trail map lists 29 official tracks, of which most are worth riding at least once. Beware that the black-graded tracks are indeed quite steep and tricky, and parents shouldn’t miss the awesome kids’ area (with magic carpet/rolling floor uplift) as a great place to get those future champion shredding turns.
Single-day lift tickets cost €30 for an adult, €20 for under-15s, €10 for beginners (limited lift options), and the price is scaled for longer stays, with 2- to 10-day passes available.Vallnord Bike Park mountain biking trails