3 impressive mountain bike routes through the Val d'Aran
We joined Júlia Miralles of Lugares de Aventura before the lockdown to ride the most awesome MTB trails of the Val d'Aran.
In the forests of the Val d'Aran we can find coloured signs. We are not referring to the hiking “GR”, but to those that indicate bicycle routes. In the Val d'Aran it is easy to see many cyclists with electric bikes , mountain bikes and enduro bikes (double suspension) and even electric enduro bikes. The proposals are very attractive.
Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes. From Lac Long. From right to left: Sendrosa ridges, in the middle of the photograph, the Tuc de Ratera. Photography: Júlia Miralles
Mountains with alpine features
One of the characteristics of this valley is its unevenness, marked by its steep mountains. A gap that will make the climbs constant and we could say that "hard" for beginners. That is why many local people choose to buy electric bikes in order to go further and open horizons. There is also the option to rent them, and the offering is not small. In Vielha, we can find a wide variety of shops with bike rental and workshops. When the Val de Aran sun begins to melt the snow, the skis are replaced by bikes.
David López, co-Founder of AranBikeParks; ex-runner from different bike disciplines. Now, instructor and cycling guide (MTB or Enduro in Val d'Aran. Photography: Júlia Miralles
Smell of sport and moss
The general atmosphere of the area is very sporty and very friendly. The bicycle season is longer than the ski season, since it covers from the thaw to the first snowfall and even, if the snow is light and allows it, we can ride routes in winter.
In spring, in the lush forests of the Val d'Aran, you can smell the green firs, beech and carvallos. The moss is one of the protagonists. It abounds, as oxygen levels and environmental quality reveal the ecological value of the Aranese forests. All this favours a rich fauna. If you leave home early, you are likely to see roe deer, deer or, in the best of cases, to meet the magnificent grouse. Dusk is also beautiful. It's just about stopping and watching.
Marc Gómez - Co-Founder of AranBikeParks. FreeSki trainer at the Val d'Aran Technification Center. Photography: Júlia Miralles
The La Val d'Aran is full of routes for bikers. The essential thing is to know the skill level that each one has and choose the most appropriate option. There are a thousand.
Another formula is to hire a “ski lift” or “transfer” to save yourself the climb and, thus, be able to enjoy the descent. It is the way to be able to practice more descents in a single day, avoiding the fatigue of the climbs.
Making a transfer. Albert Ros (Glory Days Media), Marc Gómez. Photography: Júlia Miralles
1.- Pruedo's route. Spectacular
Many of those who prioritise the landscape agree that this is "the route.". It allows you to enjoy some of the many spectacular views of the Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes. This route starts in Salardú, Naut Aran and runs within the Enduromies enduro zone. The total distance of the route is about 20 km. They are 14km, half of which are on asphalt until reaching Banhs de Tredós, a spectacular spa, located at 1,750 meters above sea level, surrounded by a breathtaking landscape.
Marc and David in Banhs de Tredós. Parc Nacional d'Aigüestortes in the background. Photography: Júlia Miralles
We continue on a dirt track for another 7km until we reach the maximum level of 2,100 meters above sea level. From here, a few kilometers downhill await us until we reach the objective of our route: the descent of Pruedo. We will have gone through a flat single track, going through tunnels that magnify the views of the Montarto and the Valarties Valley.
Marc and David. Val d'Aran in the background. Photography: Júlia Miralles
We are at the starting point of the descent. There will be 2km of downhill until we reach the centre of Enduromies, from where we can choose between three different circuits to follow our route. If we choose the trail of "Eth Sanglier 2.0", we will finish in Salardú. Therefore, adding "Pruedo" and "Eth Sanglier" will reach 6km of descent. It's an incredible descent between trees, full of light contrasts that cross the bushy branches that limit the path itself.
Albert Ros going down "Eth Sanglier". Photography: Júlia Miralles
The trails through which we circulate have been designed in harmony with the forest to carry out this type of activity, contributing, at the same time, to the ecological preservation of the wooded area. This arduous task has been carried out by AranBikeParks, the company that regulates these downhill routes. Its founders are Marc Gómez and David López. They are in charge of maintaining the trails and roads, being creative and tracing new downhill paths to enjoy the Val d'Aran "in another way".
In Eth Sanglier 2.0. Photography: Júlia Miralles
2.- The Geles route and its “magical” corners
This route starts in the "Val d'Aran Mountain Bike Park" area of the Bassa d'Oles in Vielha. We start pedalling from the Pla Batalher picnic area at 1,150 meters above sea level, in the thick forest of Baricauba. Almost 5 km of paved track will take us to the start of the forest track that leads us to the “Mare de Déu de les Nheus”, in Geles, at 1,400 meters above sea level. A privileged space, little traveled, where you can enjoy the purest Aranese mountain environment. Full of flowers like wild orchids, wild daffodils and even exotic carnivorous plants like sundew, typical of alpine meadows. Once the snow has melted, the Val d'Aran reveals a thousand coloured contrasts. Everything flourishes and animals are its most abundant population.
David and Marc in "Mare de Déu de les Nheus". Val d'Aran in the background. Photography: Júlia Miralles
Once here, we have to go up, switching between pedalling and walking at some points to a height of 1,800 meters above sea level. This section, although it may seem very uneven, is relatively comfortable and fast, because it gains height through a long but smooth diagonal.
Descent Projeckt. Photography: Júlia Miralles
We begin the descent through high mountain fields until we reach the beginning of the trails of the "Val d'Aran Mountain Bike Park". In this case, we opt for the “Projeckt” trail, about 3 km long, which combines technical zones with faster zones. "The final part features a lot of flow, which will make you smile until the last moment!", As Marc Gómez expresses smiling.
3-. The easiest route: Green trail in “Val d'Aran Mountain Bike Park”
The "Green trail" is indeed the easiest route, but it does not mean, in any case, that it is not the least enjoyable; but the one that, perhaps, cyclists with less experience in enduro will be able to enjoy on a wide trail and for all ages and audiences. It is a perfect route to do with the family.
It begins in Vielha towards the Bassa d'Oles, by Gaussach. We went up the paved road to the "Bassa d'Oles". The climb is not complicated , but it does not give up until reaching the “Bassa” there are no flat sections. La Bassa is a mountain lake, where the road ends, surrounded by forests that reveal a fabled corner.
Marc and David with the Bassa d'Oles. Photography: Júlia Miralles
And if you want more ...
In addition to these three routes in Val D'Aran there are many more routes for mountain biking. Check out the Facebook page of "Enduromies" and "Val d'Aran Mountain Bike Park" to see other alternatives.
You can also check the “Trailforks” app that offers many more options in this fantastic valley. The only valley in the Pyrenees facing north with dreamy high mountain landscapes.
Photography: Júlia Miralles
- Júlia Miralles Larrègola
- @juliamlarregola @julieentrevitres