Châtel offers some of the best mountain biking in Europe…but as neither of us are downhill bikers, here is all you need to know from local Tessa Williams a.k.a. Adventure Tess
Bike Park Châtel is a dedicated lift access bike park with expertly shaped trails in the heart of the Portes du Soleil. The bike park is run by a dedicated crew of nine guys who are in charge of shaping and maintaining the tracks on a daily basis and taking care of safety in the park.
No matter where you are riding, make sure everyone in your group is wearing full protection (full face helmet, knee and elbow guards and body protection). Make sure you ride within your comfort zone and ride each trail cautiously the first time. Make yourself familiar with the trail grading system as these can vary from place to place. Bike park maps will often offer a suggestion of which order to ride the trails in, this can be a great place to start. Check with the local trail crew if you are unsure of anything.
The best place to start in the Châtel Bike Park is Panoramic. This is a green trail, starting from the top of the Rochasson Chairlift. This trail is super smooth and flowy, with great views over lake Montriond and back to Châtel . It is fun for all of the family as it can be ridden at any speed, it is a great place to get acquainted with berms for the first time and also has plenty of fun (optional) features for the more adventurous.
Next up is Seprentine, my all time favourite blue trail which begins at the top of the Pierre Longue chairlift. This trail is berm heaven. Well established, expertly shaped, super tall and smooth berms from top to bottom. Great for learning about braking and cornering, or just seeing how fast you can go.
Châtel is super lucky to have Niko Vink in residence for part of the summer. Niko is a pro rider and shaper and he has spent the last three summers building and shaping the now legendary Vinkline track. Vinkline is the ultimate flowing jump line with enormous berms, table tops and a serious roadgap. Graded blue this track is accessible to anyone, but keep and eye out for pros who travel from around the world to ride with Niko.
Châtel also has great rough technical trails. Haute Tension begins at the top of Rochasson with a series of tight corners, beautifully re-shaped at the beginning of this summer. It then runs through a technical section of polished boulders and rough rocks, back into another section of dreamy tight corners before a final tech section. Magic.
Châtel is probably best known for its steep, rough black trails. Nine of the twenty trails in the Bike Park are graded black. The best place to start with these is Komatrautrail. This track is rough, loose and steep from top to bottom. It has a bit of everything including big rocks, jumps and long root sections. Hold tight and get loose.
Châtel is also ideally located if you want to get out and explore the Portes du Soleil. Morzine can be reached in about an hour, riding super fun flowy trails the whole way. For those keen for a big day out featuring some of the best trails and views in the world, head over to Champery and return via Morgins. From the top of Rochasson drop down into Lindaret and head up to Switzerland via the Mossettes lift. From here take the Swiss National Downhill track down to Les Crosets, stopping to grab a coffee and take in the views of the Dents du Midi and at a traditional Swiss farm on the way. From Les Crosets catch the lift up to the beginning of the legendary Champery Worldcup Track. Suitable for experts only this is a bucket list track for riders all over the world after a stunning Downhill World Cup race was held in the wet here in 2011. Get your breath back on the way back up in the Champery cable car and look out for Marmottes underneath the lift as you head back up to the top of Mossettes. From here cruise down the valley to Morgins for a couple of laps of the newly reopened Morgins Bike Park. From here it is a short climb up to the pass and down in to Châtel for a well earned beer.
The Châtel Bike Park and chairlifts are open from June to September and bikes are available to hire in Châtel. Want something to aim for? check out the pros in Châtel bike park
You can see more of Tess on her bike on her Instagram account