The best legal mountainbike trails with lift access?
La Thuile is a small village in the Aosta valley on the border of France and Italy. It truly deserves the title mountainbike mecca, every biker should come here at least once. You will not find a lot of steep natural trails like this legally and with lift access anywhere else.
Normally you would be happy when you get the chance to pedal up for hours to ride one of these trails, but in La Thuile you can just hop in the lift and save your energy for riding down these ten exhilarating trails.
The only downside is that there aren’t a lot of options for less experienced mountainbikers.
Mountain biking in La Thuile
- Steep natural trails
- Steep natural trails
- Steep natural trails 😉
- A lot of other bike parks nearby
- One lift ticket for the valley at a good price
- ice cream and pizza
- The surrounding nature.
- No waiting times for the lifts
- Not suitable for beginners
La Thuile or in the local Valdôtain dialect “La Tchouiille” is a small mountain village at an altitude of 1450m. In some parts you can still see that it used to be a small village with farmers and miners, but it is mainly a ski resort now. It still has it’s laid back atmosphere tough, so if you’re travelling with your family that doesn’t ride they will not be bored, but it’s not overly touristy.
La Thuile is on the curvy mountain road that connects the Aosta valley with Bourg St. Maurice in France via the little St. Bernard pass. Although it has always been of strategic importance there aren’t a lot of ruins and other remains to visit. The natural surroundings and especially the views of the Mont Blanc are extraordinary.
You can get some really good ice cream at the bar/gelateria on the square near the lift. But if you’ve deserved a real treat after conquering the steep trails (or you just have a sweet tooth), Then you should visit the Chocolat shop on the main road towards the little St. Bernard pass.
If you’re really lucky there is a chocolate festival going on, where you can taste all sorts of chocolate and other sweet delicacies.
Hotels and apartments
Camping Rutor is in a quiet mountain location in the forest, next to a mountain stream, but still near the lifts and the village. When it’s busy it can become a bit cramped. The showers are dated and coin operated, but clean.
There are also small pods and chalets that you can rent.
Right next door to Camping Rutor is “Azzurra Camper Area” which is basically a parking lot where you can park your camper, when it’s really busy the other campers are parked so close you can not open your doors.
There are no showers and toilets. And it’s about as expensive as the camping.
So my recommendation would be to drive in the direction of the little St. Bernard pass and find a beautiful spot for free and have breakfast while watching the marmottes play around your camper.
If you’re looking for a campground that is more central to visit all the bike parks in the Aosta valley check my recommendations here.
La Thuile is known for it’s steep, flowing and natural trails. It feels as if the trail builders took the lines they where riding on their ski’s and snowboards and then started riding them on their mountainbikes in the summer.
The Enduro World Series stops here regularly, so if you want to push yourself you definitively have to come here. If you’re looking for easy flow trails, you definitively shouldn’t come here. Nearby Tignes would be a better destination for you..
There is one blue flow trail, surprisingly called Flow, marked H on the map. It runs next to the upper lift and is nice as a warming up, but not much more.
The other blue trail T) Verney has more to offer, but requires more effort to get to the start of the trail. It’s not far but you might notice there is less oxygen at this altitude. It’s a hiking trail, without real technical difficulties.
Blue trail T Verney
The red trails require more skills, they are not the kind a beginner can ride while burning their brake pads. Expect steeper sections and short technical sections over roots and rocks. Some parts will always be wet because of a mountain stream, other parts will be loose and dusty.
The last part of P) Planey will give you a taste of what Z) Touriasse is like, after that you can decide whether it’s worth the pedal up from the lift.
B) Garin and D) Le Volpi are a step up from the reds, but still achievable for most riders, just like C) La Joux. They are old hiking trails that have become rougher after years of mountainbike (ab)use. More and longer steep sections, more and bigger roots than the reds, but nothing crazy.
K) Maisonnetes has some more technical sections that you might want to ride slowly before you hit them at speed. It also has a proper back country feel to it.
M) Lupin, S2) Tombeau and J) Cambogia can best be described as “Fucking Nuts”. As far as I know they are the steepest and loamiest legal trails with lift access. You will need serious skills and commitment. Otherwise it will be an awkward walk down, which will involve some sliding on your ass.
Because of the loam and their shaded location they will take some time to dry out. And when they are wet they will be even more fun or just full on terrifying.
These are the trails the EWS keeps coming back for!
When he hops back onto his bike around 8:50 gives you an idea of how steep it is (in the not so steep spots).
Some trails start directly at one of the lifts, for others you will have to follow the mountain road past the other lift station. You can start riding the trail from the road, but some have a little section above the road. So you will have to do a steep climb first and then you will be rewarded by a technical descent through a rock garden.
Books and maps
This guidebook by versantesud has 61 trails in the Aosta valley, you can order it, but it also available (in italian and english and sometimes german) in most local bookshops. The routes range from xc on forest roads to enduro rides.
There is a large sign next to the lift with a trail map, if you want a map to take with you, you’ll have to ask the lift guys in your best italian 😉
“posso avere una mappa per mountain bike, per favore?”
All the necessary signs along the trail are there, but in other bike parks you might be used to more and clearer signage. When in doubt you’ll probably have to go straight down.
Bike shops/ guiding/ Mountainbike rental
There is a rental and repair shop just across the street from the chairlift, called only ski and snowboard. They rent out all sorts of bikes, including enduro and downhill bikes, they have package deals which include the lift ticket at very reasonable prices.
Tips and tricks
The road to the little St. Bernard pass is well known as a rally stage with it’s hairpins that were made to drift through. But the local police also knows this and performs regular speed checks especially in the tunnel just below the village.
La Thuile isn’t just a regular stop on the EWS tour, but also hosts other events like Italian nationals. So check the site before your visit to see if all trails will be open.
If you do not have the above lift ticket, you have to buy your ticket at the tourist info on the main square, next to the large gondola. (So not at the chairlift)
Breuil-Cervinia and Aosta-Pila are so nearby that you can use the same lift ticket. Breuil is not very well known, but certainly worth a visit. There is one long flow trail and several enduro trails, with one starting on the glacier at 3480m.
Aosta-Pila has flowing bike park trails up top and a long more natural trail going all the way down to the city.
La Rosiere is even closer and also shares a lift ticket (not the Aosta valley ticket). You can connect the trails with some leg or e-bike power. Compared to La Thuile the trails are a lot easier, maybe even a bit disappointing?