South Tyrol: Mountain Biking in the Dolomites and Italian Alps, Part Three - Valle Aurina

Mar 18, 2015 at 23:17
by Lee Lau  

|| Meran (Ashbach and Hafling/Merano2000) || Bruneck (Plose and Kronplatz) || Valle Aurina || Other South Tyrol stories ||

Steinhaus to the Tauernweg and the Tauern Alm





For the next leg of our journey in South Tyrol we ventured to Valle Aurina; a gem of a valley running west to east separated from Austria to the north by the rather huge ZIllertal Alps. Where is this place you might ask? Valle Aurina or Ahrntal might be one of the most beautiful places in the world that the English speaking world hasn’t heard about. It's more more popular in the winter with the snowsports crowd but does offer some great summer recreation. For example, from the waterfalls of Riva at Campo Tures, Castel Tures, the mining museum in Cadipietra, the 16th century S. Spirito church at the head of the valley as well as the more than 80 three-thousanders surrounding the valley, Valle Aurina deserves its reputation as a place for culture, history and outdoor recreation. The valley isn't that populated (population total 5500) so has earned a reputation as a "nature park". The population is concentrated in small hamlets (Steinhaus where we stayed is typical with a population of about 500) so unusually for Europe there actually are some places where you can escape from people. Of course, the whole area is surrounded by enormous mountains; the Zillertal Alps in the north and west from the Hohe Tauern range (Rieserferner Group) in the south and east are littered with hiking trails. Fortunately the region is very welcoming to mountain bikers.

After a pickup from our Hotel Linderhof by Willy Steger's Ahrntal Aktiv (yet another Bikehotels South Tyrol perk is getting the transport plus local to show you around bundled with luxurious accoms and food via hotel) we rode from Kasern up the N side of Valle Aurina with fine views of the Dreiherrenspitze (3499m) and Rotspitze (3498m) talking about ski touring on a fine mountain biking day. We then looped on singletrack and then doubletrack back down the valley high traverse and S side to Kasern, Prettau and finally Steinhaus.

Today we did the Tauernweg. This is a high alpine traverse along the N and S sides of the valley; a particularly useful way to check out the lay of the land. It starts as paved road from Steinhaus where we were based, then becomes gravel road/doubletrack as you climb from the last village of the valley at approximately 1400m up to the subalpine at 2000m. From the subalpine you then see astounding views and mixed doubletrack/singletrack. The trail is shared with some very old smugglers routes (about 400 years ago the Ahrntal was a major route for smuggling tobacco and booze from Italy to Austria and back). At the alpine at the TauernAlm hut you can then either hike a bike another 300+m to a pass where you can look over to Innsbruck in Austria or head back down the valley.

Note that there is potentially a lot of road riding on the rides if you want to do it as an out and back from the valley floor at Steinhaus. We aren't plum smuggling roadies and were lazy so we accepted the offer of the bus-transport from Steinhaus saving us 12km of road ride and an uplift of 600m. Returning to the lower western end of the valley doesn't required the shuttle as it's a gentle downhill coast and exceedingly picturesque as you can take trails and wanderwegs.




South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
There can be a lot of road riding on the rides, but you can avoid most of it by use of the shuttles offered by the guided rides at the Hotels.

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
The views start right away!

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Three and four thousander’s abound. You can also hike or mountaineer to these high peaks. The big one here is the Dreiherrenspitze. Our guide Willi pointed out all the ski touring routes to the peak and we babbled on about ski touring as we were riding bikes in the hot sun

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Over that ridge is Austria. Valle Aurina was a haven for smugglers hiking alcohol, tobacco and anything they could lay their hands on. Tauern Alm in the distance

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
We stop for the obligatory afternoon beer

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Then we go down an old well built switchback trail. Into the valley below we drop 700m from Tauern Alm to Kaserne at valley bottom

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
We pass an old church built in 1455. Its behind a rock so it won’t get taken out by an Avalanche

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Beautiful Valle Aurina



Speikboden and the Kellerbauerweg





Waking up again to yet again spectacular weather it’s time to get up high and stay high. Our guide again was Willi and joining us too was Guenther. We were picked up from our accommodations at Hotel Linderhof at a very civilized time after yet another huge breakfast and drove about 10km down valley but this time to the west. Our destination today is to be ridgelines in the alpine winding on a spine with views of both the Tyrolean Zillertal Alps to the north and the Dolomites to the south generally along an alpine traverse trail (trail 27 - Kellerbauerweg and Speikboden flank then continuing down to Pircher Alm and ultimately the valley at Luttarch).

Specifically, today's excursion will take us to the Speikboden area up the Speikboden and Sonneklar lifts for some South Tyrol views and singletrack. Splitting off from this big alpine traverse there are other routes to the valley floor and lots of possibilities to summit other peaks. It then culminates with a 1600m descent (another brakeburner) back to Weissenbach at the valley floor.

These trails seemed to have just received a manicure in many spots as you start the climb from the gondola station. Considering how popular they are it’s probably not a bad idea. There was also lots of variety as we dropped around to another vantage point and continued further away from where most people concentrate. The trails then became more rocky and technical. I won't mince words. Of all the spectacular areas to ride in Europe that we've ridden there are perhaps the most jaw-droppingly OH-MY-GOD views concentrated in this trail than any other place we've ever been privileged to ride. Of course we barely scraped the surface as we could clearly see that there are many optional loops. For our route we took doubletrack and a combination of road back to subalpine then to treeline before wandering back towards the Luttarch area where we picked up singletrack of pretty good quality back to the valley floor. Willi leads that lower singletrack route as a guided ride in and of itself on those rare South Tyrolean inclement weather days so its no surprise that we found the cherry trails.




South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
WanderKarte/Hiking map of Speikboden, we rode trail 27 (which is in the back side of this map) and down to Weissenbach

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
We climb - the easy way

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Tough riding with all the views. Very distracting. First world problem with all the scenery at which to gawk and the sunlight being too bright and the day too warm

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Nice detour and more views of the Alps as we head to the Sonnklarnoch peaklet to take in some views

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Then coffee as reverse out ride back to the restaurant at the top of the Sonnenklar chair

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Continuing the traverse on wanderweg 27 – the Kellerbauerweg

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
The views are spectacular. This one looks SW towards the Tyrolean Alps

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
There is a trail down the valley below which will dump you out on valley floor with a 8km road ride back to the starting point. This view looks S towards the Dolomites

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Approaching the saddle before you either climb towards another side peak (henna) or drop down

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Guenther, Willi and Sharon with the Zillertal Alps going down

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Pircher Alm is a nice place to chill after a long descent from the alpine

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Moar Kaiserschmarrm

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Descent in the trees, by some waterfalls. This can be a wet-weather potential choice and also one of Ahrntal Aktiv’s easier guided rides



Where to stay

From Bruneck we were picked up at a central location by the hotelier with which we were staying in Valle Aurina; such a nice touch. In the village of Steinhaus in Valle Aurina, we stayed at the palatial Hotel Lindenhof and its sister hotel – the Hotel Alpenschlossl – members of the Bikehotels South Tyrol group. You've heard it all already about the Bike Hotels concept and how they present a quality-assured, mountain-bike centric insanely wonderful experience. The value is great. The bundle of services (food, accoms, bike-transport, trailhead-transport etc) is of exceptional value. The locations are convenient. They're all locally owned (the Steger family running these hotels are 2d generation hoteliers and are thoroughly professional). The staff are wonderfully hospitable. And the food - Liebe gott the food!!

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Surrounded by mountains vertical km's above you in Valle Aurina in the village of Steinhaus

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
All you can eat dessert day. Quality and quantity are very acceptable

Hotel Alpenschl ssl Lindenhof
West-facing outdoors pool - they think of everything

South Tyrol Mountain Biking in the Dolomites amp Italian Alps Part Three - Valle Aurina
Valle Aurina Map - click the larger scale to see detail. Tauernweg is to the east. The Speikboden ride is to the west

Previous Posts

Part One

Part Two


MENTIONS: @leelau @bikehotels-suedtirol

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9 Comments

  • + 3
 @leelau Dolo-mighty trip hehe... You guys sure know how to eat well...
grin>
  • + 3
 Lee, I'm not jealous. Or even envious. Not at all. Not much that is...
  • + 2
 excellent as always, thanks for sharing!
  • + 3
 A toe shot finally! Big Grin
  • + 2
 Awesome adventure! Thanks for the share!
  • + 2
 Epic understatement, living the dream
  • + 2
 wooowww nice!
  • + 1
 Makes every ride I've ever done feel lame...... Stunning stuff.

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