Mountain biking in Chamonix is still in development compared to a lot of other summer resorts. The valley is 16km long and the biking areas are spread out and not as interconnected as you'd find in most other mountain bike resorts. Bike buses do operate in peak season (July and August) and you can take your bike on some of the trains, but they don't run all day long.
You'll also have to take into account that as Chamonix is a big destination for hikers, there are many restrictions in place for mountain bikers, especially on singletracks, and in July and August you're not allowed on the main walking trails in the valley. If you want to make the most of what's on offer (especially XC riders) we recommend you come to Chamonix a little either side of these dates. If you don't mind not having lift access at all, then the end of May, June, September and October are also good times to visit.
Chamonix’s geographical location allows some of the more experienced riders to interlink into neighbouring Switzerland and Italy. There’s a five day ‘Tour du Mont Blanc’ which takes riders on a 200km brutal uphill and brake smoking descent around the Mont Blanc whilst displaying some of the most stunningly beautiful scenery in the Alps.
If you are considering doing a 'twin resort' trip, Chamonix is also a perfect base to reach other fabulous mountain biking areas such as Verbier, Megeve, Les Contamines, Courmayeur, Pila, La Clusaz and the famous playground of Morzine and Les Gets. All of which are only about an hour's drive away.
Chamonix is definitely a technically challenging area, with many obstacles and serious rooty and rocky natural trails that require intense concentration and skill from the rider. Some trails are definitely not for the faint-hearted.
If you're looking for an easy level of riding, there are plenty of low level cross country trails along the river l’Arve which passes through the small villages that make up the ‘Chamonix valley’ including: Le Gailland, Le Praz, Argentiere, Le Tour and Les Tines.
The Petit Balcons Nord and Petit Balcons Sud offer a little bit more technical riding, with a fair bit of rooty and rocky sections, and take you to a higher elevation from the valley floor. There are a number of different routes leading to and from these that you can easily follow on a map, or with the multitude of signs and way markers along the trails.
Lift Access for Mountain Bikes
For those looking for a bit more downhill action, you can get lift access in some of the télécabines (cable cars) operating at the five main areas namely: Les Houches, Le Brévent, Flégère, Le Tour and Les Grands Montets. (Please note you cannot take your bikes on the Aiguille du Midi lift or L'Index chair at Flégère). Check out the summer lift pass prices here.
The lifts are open from mid June until mid September and have specifically adapted racks for your bikes allowing you spend more of your time riding incredible alpine terrain rather dragging yourself up steep inclines. Most of the lifts within the valley permit bikes to be taken on board free of charge, the only exception being the Aiguille du Midi where bikes are forbidden.
Lift passes can be bought at the lift stations on an individual ascent basis. However if you're here for a few days and are going up and down many times during your stay, it's more economical to purchase a Mont Blanc Multipass lift pass which gives you unlimited access to the main cable-cars in the valley either for a number of consecutive days (cheaper), or for a number of non-consecutive days. Non-consecutive passes must be used within a seven day period though. Les Houches operates as an independent ski area from the rest of the Chamonix valley. Daily passes are possible and for more information consult the Les Houches Tourist Office.
By using the lift system you can increase the number of great trails for riders of all levels in the valley. The Index chairlift has been adapted to take bike racks allowing riders to gain better access to a variety of trails around La Flégère. At the Brévent cable car, mountain bikers can now use the side entrance which means that you no longer have to negotiate tricky turnstiles whilst getting you lift pass out.