- Jérôme Clementz
Davos is a popular resort in the Swiss Alps, known mainly for hosting the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. On this occasion, delegates from different sectors gather for several days of meetings to tackle urgent global issues in an attempt to make the world a better place (supposedly).
As a mountain biker, Davos is a dream destination in the Swiss Alps with breathtaking landscapes and a huge variety of beautiful trails. And while that’s undoubtedly the case with many other mountain towns, Davos-Kloster attracted my curiosity for a very particular reason.
Over the past 20 years, the overzealous development of mountain biking destinations has often lead to artificial-looking bike parks, which, in the best of cases, were complemented by the odd natural enduro trail. In most cases, these bike parks are built specifically to limit access in other surrounding areas, which often results in restrictions.
In this regard, Davos-Kloster had a slightly different vision, creating a huge network of shared trails all over the valley rather than building new bike-specific tracks in one area. It’s exactly this approach that urged me and my wife Pauline Dieffenthaler to visit this area at the end of the season and to push ourselves deep into the mountains of Grisons. We wanted to expand our possibilities even more, so we packed our e-mountain bikes and headed south.
The website of Davos is packed with exciting suggestions for (e)mountain bikers, and the choice is so big that it’s hard to decide where to start. In the end, we decided to kick off our adventure on Gotschnatgrat, a mountain which offers a breathtaking 360° view over the Klosters valley, Davos and the famous lakes, with trails spreading out in all directions.
We were in awe of the giant glaciers around us, and the majestic Weisshorn right in front.
On the first day, we decided to stay close to civilization, but our playground was no less spectacular. We spent the day scouting for trails, from dawn till dusk, on both faces of the mountain.
To document everything, we also took a photographer with us, which at first seemed like a great idea, but turned out to slow down our exploratory mission quite a bit, because we had to stop countless times to capture every jaw-dropping view.
We’ll let you decide whether it was worth the hassle! Since it was the end of the season, there weren’t many people around and we had the mountain to ourselves.
A quick ride before the lifts open
The next day we let the cable car take us to the Jakobshorn. From here, a beautiful trail follows the iconic ridgeline that connects two peaks before descending into another side valley.
The views are truly stunning, which explains why this place is so popular amongst hikers, who come here either to just walk back and forth along the ridge, or to drop into the valley.
We realise that some of the trails had been “groomed” by the Davos trail crew, with some fun little berms and chicanes giving away human intervention, but the trails still remain pleasantly natural.
From mid-May to mid-October, the Trail Crew Davos takes care of the endless miles of trails, doing maintenance work on every single trail at least twice a year – and more frequently on the busiest routes.
They build stone bridges over muddy patches and streams, delete traces of erosion and restore damaged trail sections, allowing everyone to enjoy a well- maintained trail without engaging in a pointless blame-game. We had a real blast riding in this area and everyone was respectful and considerate to each other.
Our next exploration starts from the Jakobshorn again, only this time we’re heading South.
On the menu for today is the «Alps epic trail», which became popular thanks to the Swiss Epic MTB stage race, and is meant to be the longest singletrack in Switzerland.
A sign at the beginning of the route tells us that it’s a rather busy shared trail, meaning that we’re likely to cross paths with many people . The first part is rather hilly and allows you to overtake other users rather easily.
However, the descent begins, which means that we pick up speed, which could potentially make other users feel uncomfortable
It’s at this point that the trail splits into 2 parts, with a path for hikers on one side and a trail for mountain bikes on the other.
It’s a real treat for us, and we’re finally able to release the brakes and feel the flow. The trail is playful and fun, scattered with small berms and jumps here and there.
As the gradient softens again, the trail merges onto the hiking path, calling for mutual respect to ensure harmonious coexistence. It’s a clever, intelligent approach that doesn’t require restrictions, and only creates new tracks when they’re necessary.
Once we’ve finished this beautiful route, we’re ready for some adventure, so we decide to look for less beaten tracks.
Earlier on, I had spotted a nice-looking valley on a map, which could possibly be rideable. After enjoying the stunning views over the valley from a glacial lake with a beautiful waterfall, we drop into the wild side of the mountain, leaving behind all traces of civilization.
The valley is magical, the mineral rock spreads as far as the eye can see, providing us with some beautiful challenges that are easily tackled with an e-bike but might require some hike-a-biking with an analogue bike – although most of it looks rideable.
However, we found that eMTBs turn this beautifully wild area into a massive playground, allowing you to push yourself further and discover more. Personally, it’s here that I flourish, and our efforts are rewarded by the majestic silence and a beautiful descent.
We follow the trail back around the mountain and merge into yet another section of the famous Alps Epic trail to finish the ride.
Saying that we enjoyed the ride would be an understatement! We loved the landscape just as much as the Swiss hospitality, and the area has enormous potential for exploration, both with electric and analogue bikes, whether you’re relying on uplifts or not – trains and buses are available too!
The opportunities seem unlimited. There are even 2 jump lines, lifts and North Shore-style trails for those who like the bike park vibe – all topped off with a 100% Swiss atmosphere.
This is a concept that many mountain villages and resorts could take as a model to further develop their cycling offer.
We recognised a strong desire for tolerance and empathy, an openness to sharing that proves that it is indeed possible to coexist in nature, allowing everyone to do what they love most in the mountains, while at the same time respecting the ideas of others, and taking in the stunning beauty of the landscape.
At the time we visited Davos-Kloster, some lifts were already closed, so we can’t wait to come back and discover more, maybe even push ourselves towards Arosa and Lenzerheide for an even more epic adventure. To be continued in 2024…