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Mountain Biking in the Pyrenees

Mountain Biking in the Pyrenees

The Best Places to Mountain Bike in the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees, often overshadowed by the Alps, have in recent years come in to their own as a mountain biking destination. A huge variety of terrain coupled with top-notch holiday infrastructure provides a bounty of biking opportunities. Ride the breathtaking beauty of the Basque Country in the west, the rugged, flow-tastic trails of the backcountry Pyrenees, and the dry, dusty downhill tracks of Andorra’s bike parks in the eastern Pyrenees. Escape the crowds, ride the Pyrenees!

The Pyrenees mountains stretch for 430 km from the Atlantic in the west to the Mediterranean in the east forming a natural border between France and Spain. Some of the most spectacular peaks and mountain valleys are in and around the Parc National des Pyrénées, which is about 150 km south west of the region’s largest city, Toulouse. Pau is the transport gateway to the Vallée d’Aspe, while Lourdes, a pilgrimage city and host to the first round of the 2015 UCI Downhill World Cup, is a jumping off point to Cauterets and the Pic du Midi.

Pyrenees MTB Holidays

Guided and self-guided multi-day mountain biking trips in the French Pyrenees.

 

Where to go mountain biking in the Pyrenees

Map of the Pyrénées Orientales

Pyrénées Orientales mountain biking

Where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean! The eastern Pyrenees has some exceptional mountain biking through wonderfully varied terrain. Head inland from the coast near Perpignan and you quickly hit the hills, then the high mountains. Within 100 km you go from sea level to 2800 m where mountain resorts such as Les Angles are set up in summer to offer lift assisted downhill mountain biking. Cross country riders will love the Pyrénées Catalanes area with its 690 km of waymarked trails through spectacular scenery. And family cyclists are also well catered for with a network of well-maintained ‘Voie Verte’ trails running along quiet tracks and canal banks.

Mountain Biking in Les Angles, eastern Pyrenees

© lesangles.com

1. Mountain biking in Les Angles

Les Angles is a small bikepark in a spectacular setting with a nice mix of runs suitable for beginners to expert mountain bikers. 50 km of trails weave through 500 m of vertical drop. Choose from 5 downhill tracks, including two fast flowy blue runs complete with berms and jumps, a red-graded singletrack run and a technical black trail. Les Angles also has two enduro trails, a northshore section and family cross-country trails.
Highest lift: 2150 m. Vertical drop: 500 m.
Km of trails: 50. Best for: Downhill

Mountain biking in the Pyrénées Catalanes

© capcir-pyrenees.com

2. Mountain biking in the Pyrénées Catalanes

Located in the heart of the Pyrénées Catalanes regional park, the Capcir-Haut Conflent is an FFC mountain bike area with 690 km of waymarked trails. A total of 40 cross-country mtb trails from green to black take in steep valleys, a high wooded plateau, the ancient walled town of Mont-Louis, and the Font-Romeu Pyrénées 2000 ski resort. There are also 4 enduro loops, family trails and an mtb skills course.
Highest lift: N/A. Vertical drop: N/A.
Km of trails: 690. Best for: XC/Enduro

Map of Ariège, Pyrenees

Ariège mountain biking

The department of Ariège in the Midi-Pyrénées region of south-west France borders Andorra and Spain and is one of the least populated and most unspoiled parts of France. The high mountains are easily accessible via good roads and there are hundreds of kilometres of way-marked trails which allow you to get deep into the magnificent Pyrenees backcountry. Downhill mountain bikers are well catered for with two ski resorts, Ax les Thermes and Monts d’Olmes providing lift access in the summer months.

Mountain Biking in Ax les Thermes

© snowuz.com

3. Mountain biking in Ax les Thermes

Ax les Thermes is located 130 km south of Toulouse and 120 km west of Perpignan. It’s a super little bike park for a fun day’s riding. A cable car and a chairlift provide access to 1300 m of vertical drop and 7 downhill tracks from green to black. The black trail that descends through the trees from the top of the cable car back down to the village combines flowy sections with jumps and freeride features all on some very nice loamy dirt.
Lifts open: 28 Jun – 30 Aug. Highest lift: 2000 m. Vertical drop: 1300 m.
Km of trails: 55. Best for: Downhill

Mountain Biking in Monts d'Olmes, Pyrenees

© montsdolmes.com

4. Mountain biking in Monts d’Olmes

Monts d’Olmes is a small mountain bike spot in the Midi-Pyrénées. With just 13 km of trails there’s only enough riding to keep you amused for a day or two. But with a mixture of alpine meadows and wooded terrain, the riding there is is super fun. The resort is constantly evolving and currently there are 2 black trails, a red with 2 alternate lines and a blue.
Lifts open: 28 Jun – 30 Aug. Highest lift: 1800 m. Vertical drop: 300 m.
Km of trails: 13. Best for: Downhill

Map of Haute-Garonne, Pyrenees

Haute-Garonne mountain biking

The department of Haute-Garonne in the Midi-Pyrénées region of south-west France is named after the Garonne river which runs from its source in the Spanish Pyrenees through Toulouse and out to the Atlantic. Peak Perdiguère, at 3,222 meters is the highest point in Haute Garonne and it’s here in the Perdiguero mountain range that you’ll find the best mountain biking. Ride the cross country trails of Val d’Astau or hit the gravity runs of the Bagnéres de Luchon bikepark.

Mountain Biking in Luchon, Pyrenees

© gite-luchon-pyrenees.fr

5. Mountain biking in Luchon | Go >

The pretty town of Luchon in the heart of the Pyrenees has a well-earned reputation as an outdoor sports Mecca. The Luchon bikepark has lots of potential but sadly a lack of maintenance means some of the tracks can be difficult to follow. The Superbagnères gondola is quick and efficient providing access to 1200 m of vertical drop. 3 downhill trails, an enduro track, plus 11 cross-country loops bring the total riding to 260 km.
Lifts open: 27 Jun – 30 Aug. Highest lift: 1829 m. Vertical drop: 1200 m.
Km of trails: 260. Best for: XC/Downhill

Map of the Hautes-Pyrénées

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Hautes-Pyrénées mountain biking

The Hautes-Pyrénées are famous among cyclists for having some of the toughest climbs on the Tour de France including the formidable Col du Tourmalet. Mountain bikers too have a lot to take pleasure in. The slopes of the legendary Pic du Midi offers a high mountain freeride adventure, whilst the mountain resorts of Cauterets and Saint Lary cater for downhill mountain bikers with their fast and technical tracks. Non-biking mountain enthusiasts will enjoy attractions such as the Cirque de Gavarnie and the Pont d’Espagne in the Pyrenees National Park.

Mountain Biking in Cauterets, Pyrenees

© cauterets.com

6. Mountain biking in Cauterets | Go>

Cauterets is an attractive mountain town located in the heart of the Pyrenees National Park about 1 hour 20 minutes from Pau. The Cauterets bikepark is serviced by a gondola and a chairlift providing 1500 m of vertical drop. Blue, red and black trails snake down under the lifts from the top of the Cirque du Lys. Ride singletrack intermingled with berms and freeride features. Link up the FFC XC track to complete the descent through the forest back down to town.
Lifts open: 09 Jul – 04 Sep. Highest lift: 2400 m. Vertical drop: 1500 m.
Km of trails: Unknown. Best for: Downhill

Mountain Biking the Pic du Midi, Pyrenees

© picdumidi.com

7. Mountain biking the Pic du Midi

Ride the legendary Pic du Midi! A huge 1800 m of vertical drop and 11 km of continuous enduro style descending awaits the adventurous biker. This is backcountry Pyrenees at its most dramatic. The top section is like a lunar landscape with boulders and loose scree to negotiate. The rest of the descent isn’t exactly manicured either, but the splendour of the high mountain scenery more than makes up for it. Access the cable car from La Mongie.
Lifts open: 01 Jun – 30 Sep. Highest lift: 2877 m. Vertical drop: 1800 m.
Km of trails: 11. Best for: Enduro

Mountain Biking in Saint Lary, Pyrenees

© Mathieu Lecoffre

8. Mountain biking in Saint Lary | Go >

Access 11 downhill runs from the chairlift at Saint Lary 1700. Warm up on the blue Easy Rider which blends fast flowy singletrack with fireroad and more engaging forest trail with jumps and berms. Then hit the red Full Mountain, a real treat for intermediate riders with decent air time, sneaky gaps and a fantastic high-walled switchback section. Expert riders can get their fill on the black Razorback which runs through a boulder strewn forest.
Lifts open: 04 Jul – 30 Aug. Highest lift: 2051 m. Vertical drop: 411 m.
(+800 m down to the village) Km of trails: 16. Best for: Downhill

Location of Pyrénées-Atlantiques in France

Pyrénées-Atlantiques mountain biking

Where the Atlantic meets the Pyrenees, the Pyrénées-Atlantiques cover the French Basque Country and the Viscounty of Béarn. The Pyrenees mountains, the Basque culture, and the stunning coastline combine to make this region a fantastic holiday destination. The mountain biking is very varied, from big mountain trails in the Pyrenees to stunning singletrack along the Basque coast. After an exhilarating day on the bike enjoy the Basque hospitality and delicious belly-filling cuisine.

Mountain Biking in Artouste, Pyrenees

© zapiks.fr

9. Mountain biking in Artouste

Artouste is located 1 hour 10 minutes south of Pau in the beautiful Vallée d’Ossau in the Pyrenees National Park. The Artouste bikepark is serviced by a cable car providing access to 6 downhill tracks covering 700 m of vertical drop. Module Sport rents downhill bikes near the lift station. Cross country riders have their pick of 14 waymarked trails graded from green to black that get you deep into the Vallée d’Ossau.
Lifts open: 07 Jun – 06 Oct. Highest lift: 2100 m. Vertical drop: 700 m.
Km of trails: Unknown. Best for: Downhill/XC

Mountain Biking in Gourette, Pyrenees

© gourette.com

10. Mountain biking in Gourette

Gourette is located 1 hour 20 minutes south of Pau in the beautiful Vallée d’Ossau in the Pyrenees National Park. Access to the mountain biking is via a chairlift and rather than purpose built trails, you just ride down the ski runs. With 600 m of vertical drop, it’s fun for an afternoon. Nearby Siala, 4 km from Eaux-Bonnes on the D918, is a better set up for mountain biking with decent tracks complete with northshore features, skinnies and jumps.
Lifts open: Closed summer 2015. Highest lift: 2200 m. Vertical drop: 600 m.
Km of trails: Unknown. Best for: Downhill/XC

Map of Andorra

Andorra mountain biking

The principality of Andorra is a small country nestled between France and Spain with the Pyrenees mountains providing a stunning landscape. It is prosperous due both to its status as a tax haven and the increase in tourism in recent years. Andorra is a European hotspot for mountain biking having played host to the 2013 UCI World Cup, and this tiny country has more than its fair share of great riding. With Grandvalira and Vallnord within a short drive of each other there are trails to suit most riders whether you’re into downhill, enduro or cross-country.

Mountain Biking in Vallnord

© visitandorra.com

11. Mountain biking in Vallnord

The town La Massana is your base for riding Vallnord. It’s Andorra’s most popular and best positioned summer town, located in amongst the majestic Pyrenees mountains and directly at the foot of Vallnord Bike Park. As a testament to the quality of the trails, Vallnord has hosted several international races including the 2013 UCI Downhill World Cup. Vallnord is a great place to ride XC too with several waymarked trails and some lung busting routes.
Lifts open: Jun 20 – Sep 13. Highest lift: 2358 m. Vertical drop: 1058 m.
Km of trails: Unknown. Best for: Downhill/XC

Soldeu Bikepark, Andorra

© bikeparksoldeu.com

12. Mountain biking in Grandvalira – Soldeu

The Soldeu Bikepark in Grandvalira is the largest mountain bike park in the Pyrenees. Combined with Vallnord just 20 km away there’s plenty of great riding to keep you busy for a week. The downhill biking blends fast and dusty pisted runs with steeper, technical tracks through the woods. Expert riders will enjoy the legendary Avet track with its drops and high-walled berms. For cross country riders there’s 75 km of lung-busting trails. Ease the climbs by using the lifts.
Lifts open: Jun 28 – Sep 28. Highest lift: 2250 m. Vertical drop: 750 m.
Km of trails: 75. Best for: Downhill/Enduro

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  • Joanne Thacker

    Hi we are planning a holiday to Pyrenees next year and I would like to know if there is any easy riding for me (middle aged mom)?!

    • Hi Joanne, thanks for your message!

      You’re in luck, there’s riding for all abilities in the Pyrenees and lots of green runs and family trails if you want to take it easy.

      The green and blue trails in Cauterets are really quite accessible (even for moms!) and Luchon has hundreds of kilometres of waymarked trails including a lovely 12 km lift accessed blue trail called La Familiale. Here’s a bit more info:

      Cauterets: https://www.activeazur.com/mountain-biking/pyrenees/cauterets
      Luchon: https://www.activeazur.com/mountain-biking/pyrenees/luchon

      Otherwise, if you’re heading over to the eastern Pyrenees towards Perpignan, there’s a network of well-maintained ‘Voie Verte’ trails running along quiet tracks and canal banks. Here’s a link: http://www.tourisme-midi-pyrenees.com/accueil/a-voir-a-faire/activites-et-detente/vacances-a-velo/decouvrir/promenades-sur-les-voies-vertes

      I hope that helps, best of luck with the planning!

      Matt

      • Joanne Thacker

        Hi Matt
        Thanks a million for this, we have booked the ferry, just need to plan where to stay now, and get a bit fitter! My son races 4X mountain bikes so wants a bit more adventure I assume there are lots of places he could join like minded groups for the day whilst me and his Dad potter along easier trails?
        Also is camping good over there or are we best off booking caravans? any suggestions very welcome
        Thanks Jo

        • Hi Jo,

          You’re very welcome!

          Yes, you may have to book a trip for your son, but there are loads of options for joining a group led by a qualified mountain bike guide. When you know where you’ll be exactly, let me know and I’ll try to recommend a company.

          There are lots of beautiful campsites in the Pyrenees. Riverside tent pitches or mobile home accommodation is possible, so it really depends on your budget and whether you wanted to bring your camping gear or not. As an example, here’s a link to a nice campsite just outside Luchon: http://campingaufildeloo.com/ And here’s another in Cauterets: http://www.camping-cabaliros.com/

          I hope that gives you a bit more to go on..!

          Matt

          • Joanne Thacker

            Hi Matt we are all booked now for mid-July and staying near Cauterets. I’ve been searching online but can’t seem to find a company that he could book with for some ‘proper’ mountain biking guided tour without the oldies! Can you recommend anyone? Cheers Jo

          • Hi Joanne, great to hear that you’re all booked for July!

            You could try contacting Olivier Guix who is based in the Val d’Azun not far from Cauterets and offers half-day or full-day guided mountain biking trips. Tel +33 (0)6 80 04 54 35, email oguix@free.fr, web accompagnateur-pyrenees.blogspot.fr

            I hope that works out for you!

            Matt

  • Holly

    Hi Matt, your page is fantastic! My boyfriend and I are planning on visiting the Pyrenees next week, we really wanted to do some mountain biking out there. Is there anywhere you can recommend now that most of the lifts are shut? We’ve both done a lot of mountain biking in the UK. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Holly, thanks for your message!

      Now that the lifts are closed, I would recommend you either head to Saint-Lary-Soulan in the Vallée d’Aure or drive across the border to Ainsa Zona Zero in Spain. I was in Ainsa recently and the riding is superb.

      Here’s a link with more info (in French) on the Vallée d’Aure riding: http://www.mtb-trails-65.com/ You can pick up a map and organise a guide from Vélo Attitude in Saint Lary.

      In Ainsa, TT Aventura provide hire bikes and enduro uplifts: http://www.ttaventura.com/

      Alternatively, the Vallnord Bike Park in Andorra is open until the 12 October in case you want some lift accessed riding.

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

      Matt