Switzerland for Dummies: Davos Klosters - Part 3

Nov 22, 2011 at 21:53
by Lee Lau  
Part 3 in the ongoing adventure in Switzerland - more amazing trails inside.Part 3 in the ongoing adventure in Switzerland - more amazing trails inside.
|| Flims-Laax || Lenzerheide || Davos-Klosters || Engadin-St. Moritz || Zermatt || General Tips and Tricks ||

By Sharon Bader, Bryce Borlick & Lee Lau

Maps by Sharon. Photos and video by Lee unless otherwise noted

Schümli Pflümli

Davos-Klosters: Introduction

We rolled out of bed nice and early. After a nice big breakfast we ambled next door to the bus stop and were on our way from Lenzerheide to Davos. It was still only 8am but we wanted to ride that day. The bus ride gave us an hour and half to nap, which none of us did since the scenery was incredible ... as usual (we're now used to Switzerland but still not yet tired of the views. Does one ever get sick of the views?). Distances are short in this part of Graubunden. It's only 22.5km distant NE from Lenzerheide to Davos but there are pretty big mountains separating the valleys.

Poser shot but wouldn t you with that backdrop
Mountains in the backdrop separate one valley (the Engadin) from the other (Davos)

The bus ride was good because it gave us down-time. We'd been riding a lot since we got to Switzerland and only actually getting to the point now that we're starting to get used to the intense mountain scenery. You might say we're getting jaded, but we'd say we're just becoming more discerning. On some of our first few days, we were blown away by the vast alpine and the easy access. Cows and cowbells were a novelty. We marveled at how buses and trains would depart and arrive exactly on schedule. Now, we arrive at the station just a couple minutes before trains leave. We blast through Swiss mountain villages without stopping for photos. And nowadays we just curse the stupid cows for leaving so much Chue Scheiße on the trail. But this familiarity is turning out to be a good thing because we're picking our locations much more selectively and focusing more of our time on the really exceptional spots. Its easier now to predict the photogenic spots from the maps, or to know when its not worth packing camera gear.

Trailrider Bikeshop - Ageri represent
Trailrider Bikeshop - Ageri represent!! A view on our way to the Hureli on our Pischahorn ride
Ethereal clouds in the alpine
Ethereal clouds in the alpine

Having said that we expected a pretty tough first day in Davos and that's exactly what we got. A while back there were some Swiss riders who visited the North Shore. Lee and Sharon showed them some of our local trails and now that we were in Switzerland, they were happy to repay the favor. So after our bus arrived in Davos and we dropped our gear at our hotel, we prepped our gear and headed out with Roman, Guido, Andy, Joel, and Rene all of whom either worked with or were friends of the Trailrider Bikeshop in Ageri. They are all fit and skilled riders so we expected a pretty punishing climb followed by a gnarly descent. And that's exactly what we got (more about this in the Pischahorn route description below).

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Not every day was so hard. As we were blessed in Flims-Laax and in Lenzerheide we also had very comfortable accommodations in Davos. Our hosts this time was the Hotel Strela. Strela has a familiar and comfortable air to it. It's one of the 10 bike hotels in Davos offering special deals on meals, lift tickets and accomodations for mountain bikers. So again we strutted around in socks and messy wet hair before heading out for dinner. One big difference between the two hotels is the half-board that we opted for at Strela - something that we learned is a double-edged sword. Half-board means that we got dinner in addition to the breakfast buffet. So it was remarkably easy and cheap to head out for dinner, but it was also repetitive and the meals were a good example of 'you get what you pay for'. Lesson learned. Its not necessarily a bad deal, but one worth considering carefully if you want variety in food.

I would add a special shout-out to Strela for customer service beyond the ordinary. Laundry was done and folded (better than I've ever folded my bike stuff). Fresh coffee in the evenings if you want. Mind you it was deserted since it was past the busy times of summer but there were countless touches of service of this nature.

Hotel Strela
Hotel Strela
The Strela Hotel was roomy comfortable and deserted Almost eerie but there was always plenty of food
The Strela Hotel was roomy, comfortable and deserted! Almost eerie but there was always plenty of food

When we planned this trip, it was hard to get a grasp on the layout is of these various towns. When you look on a map, they all seem quite clustered together and differentiating them by anything other than names is virtually impossible (no Google streetview in Europe due to privacy concerns). But as we became accustomed to Swiss life and more familiar with their economy, we began to draw parallels to our home. In most of these areas there is a resort center with hotels, restaurants, gondolas, and just about every other amenity a tourist would want – we dubbed these ‘Whistler villages’. These centers are almost always surrounded by less glitzy areas with single family housing, grocery stores, schools, and just about every other facility that the townspeople would need – we dubbed these ‘Whistler Creeksides’.

If Davos is a Whistler Village, Klosters is a Whistler Creekside – a quiet bedroom community free of nightclubs and fancy boutiques, although it does have a gondola. We managed to avoid an expensive terrace lunch and score some cheap food and beer at the local Coop grocery store. It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon and we commandeered a section of sidewalk to sprawl out on, munching food, repairing bikes, and generally watching village life unfold in front of us.

Davos and Klosters are located in a N-S valley about 8km apart and have a population of about 11,000 full-timers. They blend tourism and "real-life" well. We had only heard about Davos from the World Economic Forum attended by so many of the bigwigs who've succeeded in blowing up financial markets of all geographies (excuse the political digression). Instead we found towns with a real economy and with real working people. Sure tourism is big in the region but there are also medical research centres, industrial and manufacturing operations.

Our time in Davos was not long enough. We feel that about almost every place we've been to visit on a bike but Davos is different. It feels like an onion; there are so many layers to it and so much to experience.

Klosters is the backdrop to some Swiss rock gnar
Klosters is the backdrop to some Swiss rock gnar. Here Roman drops in on trails off the Gotschnagrat
The Parsenns funicular leaves right from town centre
The Parsenns funicular leaves right from town centre Davos Dorf
Ivans Velo Shop has extraordinarily good service.
Ivans Velo Shop has extraordinarily good service and is located close to the Davos hockey arena in Davos Platz. Michael the mechanic fixed Sharon's errant drivetrain

Route Descriptions

ROUTE: Pischahorn - Hureli - click here for more pictures and video from our blog

Summary: Hooked up with some Swiss friends who like climbing to ride this trail. With these guys there is no shuttle. Ride NE from Davos to the road running up the Fluelapasstrasse drainage whichs runs E-W from the Davos-Klosters road. There is a hiking trail that climbs to Tschuggen paralleling the road - we took the trail. From Tschuggen climb more trails to the top of the Pischagrat. Continue traversing W from Pischagrat and climb to the peak at Hureli after which you drop fantastic singletrack and some really steep tracks ending up at Davossee.

Beautiful ride with initially mellow climbing which then turns vicious. The descent was wonderful from start to finish and was very well worth the climb. 1100m climbing, 1100m descending; 30.6km.

Dropping in to the descent off the Pischahorn off the Hureli
Dropping in to the descent off the Pischahorn off the Hureli
A Davossee view
A Davos and Davossee view

Davos Pischahorn, Graubuenden at EveryTrail


ROUTE: Weissfluejoch - Panoramaweg - Gotschnagrat - click here for more pictures and video from our blog

Summary: Our first ride started with us riding from Hotel Strela to the Parsenns Funicular in Davos Dorf. Start from station Weissfluejoch at 2600m, descend alpine scree to the trails circumnavigating the Schiahorn. At StrelaPass then take the Panoramaweg traverse (over 10km of alpine traverse) pass Parsenhutte and pass the Gotschnagrat mid-station. We then descended a combination of chue trails and freeride trails which descended ENE to Klosters Platz.

On our second leg, we took the Gotschanagratbahn to the 2200m station then rode the main trails which dropped under the liftlines heading almost due E towards Klosters and eventually traversing S and SW along the valley (but higher than the Davos-Klosters road) to eventually drop back to Davos close to Davossee.

The only regret one might have about this ride is that its hard to top a combination of this quality. There are many panoramawegs at many resorts but this one is beyond description, hors categorie. The descents are sublime but the constant in-your-face views are what makes this stick in the minds eye. This is actually a combination of two rides totalling almost no climbing and two descents of 1400 and 1000m each. Total riding was 37.2km

Tunnels as you round the Panoramaweg
Tunnels as you round the Schiahorn and turn on to the Panoramaweg
Three scoops of icecream on a sunny warm day at 2600m at the Strela Pass Hutte
Three scoops of icecream on a sunny warm day at 2600m at the Strela Pass Hutte
Chasing the Parsenns funicular
Chasing the Parsenns funicular
Klosters view as you lose 600m in a hurry
Klosters view from the Gotschnagrat as you lose 600m in a hurry

Davos Weissfluejoch to Klosters at EveryTrail


ROUTE: Jakobshorn and Rinerhorn - click here for more pictures and video from our blog

Summary: South of Davos Platz are the Jakobshorn and Rinerhorn Gondolas. Both lifts offer access to trails that start high above an old glacial valley that runs SE from the Davos-Klosters roads. Both trails offer the same requisite stunning views of the Clavadel valley and end up in Sertig Dörfli. From there you can continue road riding along the valley SE or, as we did, turn back NW towards Davos. The ride off the Jakobshorn is more rocky and technical. Off the Rinerhorn the trail is more up and down (but mostly down). From Sertig Dörfl you ride a road back to Clavadel where you can then pick up a multiuse FAST path back to Davos.

These two laps can be done easily in one day. We did it in two days because frankly we were tired and Sharon's drivetrain had issues and needed to get fixed. Jakobshorn:16km approx, 950m descent approx; Rinerhorn 19.1km 650m descent. Fantastic rides on their own; the Clavadel trails which end the rides are a bit tame but their flowy quickness are perhaps a nice contrast to the tech nature of the Jakobshorn.

Apologies as the Jakobshorn track was not recorded. Rinerhorn track is below.

Heading to Strellig on the Rinerhorn trail
Heading to Sertig Pass on the Rinerhorn trail
Heading to Strellig on the Rinerhorn trail
Bryce on the Rinerhorn - Sertig Dorfli below
Strellig Walserhuus restaurant has killer views
Sertig Walserhuus restaurant has killer views

Davos Rinerhorn at EveryTrail

THIS IS NOT OUR TRACK. It's from a wanderwegger but it appears basically correct. There is really only one way down from the Jakobshorn and it would be pretty hard to get lost. Feel free to use it at your own discretion and watch out for the farmer that sprays chue-scheisse (NOT JOKING) all over his fields and the streams before you hit the Sertig- Clavadel road at valley bottom

The Swiss work hard to preserve their snow blanketing it in white
Top of the Jakobshorn which runs only two rides a day where bikes are allowed to load so check the schedule. Look at the white cover - the Swiss work hard to preserve their snow
Artsy time out on the Jakobshorn trail
Artsy picture-perfect time out on the Jakobshorn trail
Meadowskipping on the Jakobshorn
Vincent, a Pinkbike local who met us, and Bryce meadowskipping on the Jakobshorn

Bergwanderung Davos - Jakobshorn - Sertig Dörfli 25.9.09 at EveryTrail


Switzerland for Dummies

1. Flims/Laax

2. Lenzerheide

3. Davos Klosters

4. Engadin - St Moritz

5. Zermatt

6. General Hints


  • 3 1
 Graubuenden is the top spot for enduro mountainbiking in Europe. Graubuenden opened their hiking trails for mountain bikers and counts on a good livelihood of hikers and bikers. It has lots of epic trails, lift assisted uphill in many places and perfect infrastructure (hotels, food etc.). I will spend some time there again next year for sure. Hopefully some regions in Austria will follow. The only downside is that Switzerland is pretty expensive.
  • 2 0
 ahaus I had heard Zillertal and Ischgl in particular were pretty good. Are they comparable?
  • 2 0
 Hi leelau,
I was also in Ischgl last year and had the opportunity to ride with a local guide (check www.silvretta-bikeacademy.at there is an english folder available for download) which showed me very good trails and I had some awsome riding. Don't know details on Zillertal. You can enjoy good trails also in Ischgl and in Zillertal. However in Switzerland especially Graubuenden it is much, much easier to find the good trails since there are also mountainbike specific maps (shows singltrails, level of difficulty etc.) available. I also have the feeling that hikers are not that "open minded" for mountainbikers than in Switzerland.
  • 3 1
 What I would recommend when riding in Davos is the Bahnentour....10.000 meters of freeriding (this is not for accessible for DH bikes). 10.000m descending on sweet single track while using Davos network of trains, chairlifts and cable cars. See www.bahnentour.ch
  • 1 0
 Chue Scheiße, these kind of posts should be banned!! you´re killing us!! Smile
  • 1 0
 Will you guys be heading up around Chrischona? If so that would be awesome! It's practically my back yard!
  • 1 0
 I don't think we're planning for the Basel area - There's so much to see in Schweiz we have to be extraordinarily picky. What's it like? Pics?
  • 1 0
 Could you guys name some good bike shops in switzerland where i can get spares like tubes,fork seal kits etc. Thanks
  • 1 0
 It's a big enough place you might want to narrow down where?
  • 2 1
 The most lovely place to ride....
  • 2 1
 Die Seilbahn erinnert mich an die Gurtenbahn in Bern!
  • 1 0
 sweet! another one on bucket list.
  • 2 1
 Now that is mountain biking. Just like colorado.
  • 1 0
 Road bike or MTB, Switzerland is my favorite place to ride.
  • 1 0
 I have never seen such a palce in China.Maby I see too little.
  • 1 0
 just awesome!!
  • 1 0
 Great scenery.

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