Chic, high alpine après-ski each winter and an idyllic mountain retreat come summer. We headed to Ischgl to see first-hand how this ski resort is catering for e-mountain bikers once the snow has retreated.
200 kilometres southwest of Munich lies Ischgl, a world-famous resort that has long relied on winter tourism for its existence. Each season, more than 12,000 skiers and snowboarders from across the globe become its temporary residents but, come the summer, the sight of empty trails and quiet lanes feels more like sparsely populated mountains of Finland. So, while other resorts are crowded with selfie-taking tourists and hikers, the blissful nature around Ischgl is markedly quiet.
For a quick weekend break or a longer holiday, Ischgl’s credentials for e-mountain biking and hiking should no longer be up for question.
Hiking is no longer the best way to explore a landscape, these days that accolade goes to eMTBs. From Ischgl, you’ve got the choice of pedalling up the mountain sides or taking one of the many cable cars using a Silvretta Card to summit the surrounding peaks. The ultimate day’s ride unites both of these options, as it’s only when you’re grinding your way up a climb that the closeness to nature is really amplified. For anyone booking a hotel stay in Paznaun, the Silvretta Card is handed out along with your room card, giving free lift access for the entirety of your stay Our first ride directs us along technical, rooty trails through the forest towards Flimspitz, past spectacular lakes and rivers that yank at your heartstrings and demand that you stop, just to sit and to observe the glistening waters. Heading up towards the summit, the scenery rapidly changes as you break the treeline, dropping into flowtrails that snake their way over vast Alpine meadows. The investment into the trails is visible in the recently installed wooden planks, that traverse small streams and water run-offs and are appreciated by both hikers and mountain bikers. Quick diversions from the trail jut you off to natural viewing platforms, with views that are exceed anything you’ll see on the pages of shiny tourist brochures.
As you near the summit, that grassland scenery with wild flowers is eclipsed by a dramatic lunar landscape with rocks and scree. At 2,871 metres, the Greizspitze is reachable by bike or cable car, and from here you’ll can ride the ridge that forms the border between Austria and Switzerland. The 20 km ‘smuggler ride’ traces ancient routes used by smugglers, with statutory breathtaking views included. Don’t be surprised to see tourists on this trail today, heading back into Austria with tax-free watches and jewellery stashed into their backpacks.
A High Alpine landscape, a couple of stubborn snowfields, then the wild flower paradise with cows and bees.
This year saw the official opening of the new Flimjoch Trail, a 2.5 km flow trail that drops 440 metres down to the Idalp Hut from the top of the Flimjoch cable car at 2,757 metres. It plummets you into a High Alpine landscape, crosses a couple of stubborn snowfields before meandering into a wild flower paradise, where cows and bees live out their summer days smugly. For us, our 20 km Smuggler Tour took us on the Flimjoch Trail as its crowning crescendo and the day was topped off by a quick stop in the Videralp to tuck into the local specialities and refuel.
Family-friendly routes are best navigated in the wild park near Mathon, where the sight of deer, hares and ducks will capture the curiosity of the kids. Naturally, your eMTB deserves an outing too, and the Friedrichshafener Hut is the ultimate destination for a quick ride. Tucked onto the stores of a crystal-clear Alpine lake, this mountain refuge serves up regional cuisine and a sublime backdrop for anyone wanting to whip out their camera. For anyone wanting more than just a mid-ride or mid-hike lunch, you can also sleep at the hut and make you way down to the bottom of the mountain come morning – either carve down the gravel track at high speeds or navigate down any of the many, pretty tough, trails that criss-cross the main route down.
For a quick weekend break or a longer holiday, Ischgl’s credentials for e-mountain biking and hiking should no longer be up for question. Those very same cable cars that teem with skiers and hikers for half the year are at your disposal in summer. The only real thing missing is the après ski, but we reckon you can get your kicks on the descents instead! See you soon, Ischgl!
This article is from E-MOUNTAINBIKE issue #014
Words & Photos: Valentin Rühl