3 Country Enduro Trails Nauders

3 Country Enduro Trails Nauders

26.10.15 20:48 5.560Text: NoManPhotos: Erwin Haiden, Lukas Salzer, Lukas SchnitzerListen, they are playing our song! It's being played loud... The Rhaetian triangle between Austria, Italy and Switzerland, with its many cyclists has always been viewed as a kind of paradise until now. A tailored package for the area around the Reschensee inviting the newest and youngest target group on board is available now: Enduro Biker.26.10.15 20:48 5.561

3 Country Enduro Trails Nauders

26.10.15 20:48 5.561 NoMan Erwin Haiden, Lukas Salzer, Lukas Schnitzer Dieser Beitrag ist auch in Deutsch verfügbarListen, they are playing our song! It's being played loud... The Rhaetian triangle between Austria, Italy and Switzerland, with its many cyclists has always been viewed as a kind of paradise until now. A tailored package for the area around the Reschensee inviting the newest and youngest target group on board is available now: Enduro Biker.26.10.15 20:48 5.561

A firm handshake later, and you're in heaven. The person inviting you in is called Harry Ploner, he is a hotel manager and bike guide, both are his passion. The border triangle is located at the Reschenpass, where it is situated, in Austria, in Italy, in Switzerland. The beauty of this paradise: It does not fluff itself up nor does it overrun you. It seeps into you slowly, putting a thrill in your jersey pocket, a melt-in-the-mouth highlight, and finally you are lying there on the sofa of your suite, with a tingling feeling. The panoramic window wide open toward a spacious terrace, mountains in full view, and you do not know which one of the gentle sensations you are experiencing is going to make your holiday mood last the longest. Perhaps it is the flowery meadows waving at twilight? Or the strawberry tart on the village square of Schleins? Maybe the warm upwind on the viewing rock Plamort? The colourful and happy sunshade on the Reschner mountain pasture? The nimble direction-changing trail by the Sesvenna hut? The bright blue lake with its mysterious tower? Or king Ortler, when he builds itself up just behind, powerfully and white?

The above lines date back to the year 2008. And they have not lost any of their relevance today. Except now the strawberry tart in Schleins would be redcurrant sorbet at the Riatschhof after our most recent visit to the Reschenpass, and the trail by the Sesvenna hut by a route in the immediate vicinity of the lake - simply because we never went much further than ten kilometres away from Nauders and did not see the famous village square or path this time. Harry Ploner (the former tourism chairman is active as ever when it comes to cycling, only we did not meet him this year) and his hotel Central had to be replaced by the family Kleinhaus and its equally luxurious arts, biking and wellness hotel Naudererhof. But otherwise: everything remains the same.
Or does it?
No. Everything remains the same - and some more.

During our last visit, the three countries triangle at the Reschensee was a typical touring zone specializing in boundlessness and no borders. The area’s hot numbers were Transalp and Dreiländertour (approx.: Three-Countries-Tours). Close at their heels were the one-day classics, above all the trek through the Uina ravine. Besides its flagship circuits “Terra Raetica” could offer tours, which were just as worthwhile. Maybe not as prestigious and celebrated, but ranging from challenging to relaxing, definitely rich in views and steeped in history.
Overall, the path network of more than 2,000 kilometers and an altitude of 80,000 meters was amazingly versatile, even families and trekking bikers got their money's worth on the bike trail around the Reschensee and the Via Claudia Augusta, which is an ancient road used by the Romans to trade goods. Road athletes of any motivation are offered a broad range of activities at Stilfser Joch, Ofenpass, Kaunertaler Gletscherstraße and many more besides that they were visibly pleased hearing the peppering of local salutations, “Grias eich”, “Ciao” und “Grüzi wohl.”

Nowadays, a brand new target adventure called 3 Country Enduro Trails is added to the mix. Although this label is brand new, it is only half-true. Quite, a number of the associated paths were already part of the route network years ago. But here we go: the total package.

The path network, which opened officially in the middle of July, comprises of twelve single trails covering a distance of over 20 kilometres. The trails are accessible or inter-connected by transfer routes on the one hand (they would have been called forest paths in the past) and four cable railways on the other hand. These have an amazing range from S0 to S3, whereby, due to the increased awareness in trail categories, the usual distinction between the traditional skiing slope colors blue (S0, S1), red (S2) and black (S3) slopes is used in addition to the single trail scale. The signs adhere to the system of the Tyrolean mountain bike model 2.0 and thus, are placed beside the paths for hikers and bikers. A practical single trail map complements the information. Also a convenient all-in-one-card for bikers, the Summercard Gold Bike, which is available for either three or six days, makes all this and more accessible (includes post buses, boats and the Vinschger railway).

 3 Countries. 4 Cable railways. 12 Single trails. 

The offer for Enduro-Biker 2015 - expansion underway.

Two years ago, modifying began on the trail, only manual and tentative though because there was no budget and also no need for heavy equipment or for massive interventions. A few rocks here, some other material underlain for traction, a bend needed strengthening, a small bridge built over there, elsewhere a railing, steps, or an alternative route plied over. "When completed, there will be 22 trails coming off from every cable railway down and over to the next. In addition to these natural paths, there will be a route with many lay-bys constructed from up in the ski slope,” Heli says pointing towards the Bergkastel peak.
The guide at the Bike School BIWAK (whose name stands for the activities offered by it, amongst others, biking, hiking and rock climbing) is our companion today through the new trail heaven. He meets this task with the prudence and serenity of a person who really knows his mountains, from the most diverse sports inside out.

Tour of two lakes

The day before we had travelled on our own initiative following a recommendation from the local tourist association. As a so-called warm-up and to get to know the region, we had worked our way between Klein- and Großmutzkopf peaks through to just below the milestone that marks the border triangle on Piz Lad.
Nauders, nestled between the Ötztal Alps and the Sesvenna group of peaks, in a high valley located at a height of nearly 1,400 m above sea level. It is just a few kilometers north of the Reschenpass forming, the border with Italy, and even fewer kilometers to the east of the Norbertshöhe, through which Switzerland can be reached. No wonder the air starts getting noticeably thinner here a few meters above the starting point, and the tread becomes clearly more difficult. For all this, you will be richly compensated for your efforts. The creepier the gorge at the castle Altfinstermünz gets, the friendlier extends to youthe area from the fortress Nauders. The mountains, which are nearly three thousand meters high appear harmless, almost loveable, which - green and forested up to a great height - descend onto the Reschensee; and the roads, meadows and villages cling idyllically to their foothills.

As we immerse ourselves in the wood above the Stillebach, we can hear birds twittering, crickets chirruping and the rustling of the nimble meadow residents. Later, at the Grüner See, the faint crackling of the reed belt in the wind, the constant chatter of a clucking mother duck and the occasional ripple of water when a fish gobbles down its meal was added.
The mountain lake lined with larches and spruces with ambient skinny-dipping temperature was, together with the one single rooty trail and the Schwarzer See. A few more pedal rotations away, the ultimate goal of our recon trip. The latter is a 2.3 hectare moor lake, which together with its younger brother and is listed as a nature reserve. The murky waters on the border to the Engadin is home to probably the highest-altitude water lilies of Tyrol and also the most beautiful reflection of the Großen Mutzkopf (approx.: the Big Nightcap) – except when mallards or water herons are thwarting the image.
You could sit for hours at one or another lake and just let your mind and soul wander. If ...yes, if we were not so curious about the Enduro trail network.

Trails, Trails, Trails

The 3-country trail, the central part of which we had already dealt with by going from the green countryside to the Black Sea is an extensive root carpet with quite luscious key places. The perfect gateway drug: Challenging, but not impossible; steep, but not continuously; funny, but also needs to be taken seriously. Once we reached the bottom and found ourselves cruising toward the second lake, across small wooden bridges through upland moor and quaking bog areas, we knew immediately: More of this was required.
Our every whim was Helis command. Our requests did not actually make our guide miserable, on the contrary.

The next morning, we found our self’s once again on the Mutzkopf, but this time by chairlift. We started early and were therefore pretty much the first ones on the mountain. The lift attendant still had time for a chin-wag. Then we go: the Gerry trail and the Kreuzmoos trail are the two alternatives that will lead us down. And one look on the map tells us: There would be two more.
Dry-as-dust and bumpy, it’s already getting to the point just a few meters after the entry-level signposting: smaller root stocks, larger stone steps, bend to the right, extensions to the left. The Gerry’s trail winds playfully through larches and around rocks, tilts over a short rocky passage. Another time it kicks over a few waves. Hot! Pulse pounding! The hit!
Not long, and we are removing our jackets and long sleeve jerseys. Who would have thought that riding downhill can be this strenuous?
After two or three narrow bends over a steep intersection with forest roads-crossing, the trail becomes gentler and we have time to enjoy the beautiful nature more fully. The narrow-grit-strip guides us downwards through conifer wood carpets and grasslands in a laid-back amble - what a start! Where can you find more of this?

We cross Nauders and pedal past the venerable Castle Naudersberg, a bit towards Italy. This time it’s a gondola bringing us to the top, the Bergkastel railway. A wonderful view of the valley opens up through the glass panes.
You can see the terraced fields clearly from here, where long ago they used to grow grain, and the appending old irrigation channels. The summers on the border triangle are so dry, that the low rainfall had to be used to maximum efficiency in order to gain harvests. Nowadays, modern irrigation systems ensure green meadows; grain production has been abandoned. This is most likely due to the fact that winter sports bring in much more revenue.

With imposing views to the Engadin - the local mountain of Nauders, the Piz Lad, is actually already in Swiss territory - and the Ötztal Alps, the cable railway spits us out at an altitude of 2,161 m. Cows graze here and horses are put out to pasture, seniors are power-walking and bikers are waiting. It can take a while with larger groups until everybody has been shuttled to the top.
Up here, everything from full-face and whole-body Enduro protection, Soft Protectors, All Mountain and no protectors at all can be seen here and all is justified. Families with borrowed hardtails can be seen underway. For them, the accomplishment of the relatively simple Plamort trail, which delightfully meanders through pastures, streams and through alpine roses is a unique adventure. For us it is pure cycling pleasure.

 An extremely versatile tour region with specialty boundless borderless vast open. 

Summary of the characteristics of the border triangle

However, before we divert from this picture-perfect path before an alpine scenery to Vinschgau, a short crossing piece is waiting for us past the Stieralm (Bull Meadow), which has just now been converted into a restaurant. Unlike other Tyrolean ski areas, the density of huts offering food and drink in this area is not very pronounced. This is, according to Heli, due to the fact that the pastures are not private and that the livestock industry, municipally organised, is confined to a few “collection points.” However, nobody has to starve and die of thirst. The mountain and the valley have sufficient worthwhile resting places, where you can get your strength back.

Two particular features wait behind the border to Italy, which every mountain biker probably has seen on a picture somewhere: the tank barriers and the viewing rock at Plamort.
Together with the surrounding bunker plants, unfamiliar and slightly threatening, they remind you of one of Europe's darkest times in the past millennium. The buildings were erected between the two world wars. “Unlike other sectors of the front between Austria and Italy, however, they were never in operation,” Heli explains.
Exposed and protruding gigantically from soft rolling meadows, the other one has emerged as a parade rock for full panoramic shots. Who's surprised below, the glacier water-cold Reschensee glistens in a turquoise and promising way, above, the eternal ice of the Ortler group shines in powerful and unapproachable way, between them, lined up in beautiful regularity, the mountain slopes and wooded slopes of the Vinschgau. On one side Grauner Alm, St. Valentin, Plawenn, exit Meran; on the other side Schöneben, Haideralm, Bruggeralm, exit Switzerland.

Before 1950, it looked completely different down there. There were two small natural lakes, lots of brown cattle in large meadows, several hamlets and two villages - Reschen and Graun. Under Mussolini, plans dating back to 1911, to use the hydropower in the upper Vinschgau, were finally realized - though more radical than envisaged originally and regardless of the resident population.
At a height of 27 meters, the previously forcibly expropriated and demolished settlements were flooded, only the Alt-Graun church tower from the 14th century was kept for the sake of preservation. The Romanesque bell tower, which can be clearly seen from well high above the east bank as well as from the opposite side, in the middle of the over 600 ha size Reschen lake, is nowadays the symbol of the region and most photographed postcard attraction in Vinschgau.

We leave the past behind and take on the next section with the Bunker trail. Under our wheels is the current future project, which, amongst other paths, is actually on the list of tracks for the program of the European Enduro Series race, which took place at the end of July in Reschen.
This trail in the upper region, which has in parts been completely newly paved, is rocky, rough and rugged. It frequently descends into the tangy, rooty forest. Dust is hanging in the air as soon as the front man applies the brakes - and fun, lots of fun. It is almost unbelievable with how little effort the most fantastic, the most diverse paths were created here!

After lunch in the Giern tavern, we get further evidence of the craftsmanship of the local builders on Schöneben trail. It almost seems as if the western bank of lake Reschen rather was the “root side” while over there was more the “rock side”. In any case the north slope of Zehner, Elfer and Zwölferspitze is wetter than the other spots. The still visible signs of slippage of the participants of the recent Enduro competition are clear proof of this.
Here, the realization of every single trail pilot’s dream come true expertly preens itself on this countryside route. It takes the shape of steep passages at Direttissima speed, other times with a myriad of direction changes, offers jump ramps and resting spots, then takes you through the open forest, with its many blueberries, straight as a candle so you never want to draw on the brakes again.

 “Get ready, happy, go!” 

More than just a fitting motto in the hotel Naudererhof

About halfway up we leave the Schöneben trail in the direction of the Reschner Mountain pasture. We now have to pedal nearly 200 height meters, but we find the pleasant ascent and the recurring downward glances onto the lake and its surroundings ease the task enormously.
There is another descent waiting, and if we had not forgotten our passports, Heli would also have taken us right into Switzerland. Even in the depths of the Vinschgau, at the cable railway Haideralm, this one would still have real treats to hand, and furthermore there would be at least one (also permitted) alternative for each marked path. The eponymous 3-country trail - one of the first paths made thus waits as the grand finale.
After a forestry start and a romantic mountain pasture interlude, this classic circuit surprises us with a brutal set of steps lying in wait just before the Grüne See (green lake). The detour for this key position will be, as Heli convinces himself spontaneously, finished shortly. We, however, reach the gem already known from the previous day rather shaken and with slightly shaky knees. But that's how it should be with the real Enduro trails now and again.

Sitting again at the lakeside and enjoying the sun, ducks chattering and water rippling, we take stock. Never before, we agree on this, have we had so many different, fun, challenging, but respectively manageable paths under our wheels within such a short time. And we were never sadder to have to continue again the next day.
In addition to this successful, new offer, it is probably the increased understanding which makes a mountain bike holiday at the Reschensee come so majorly recommended. Nauders already had sign posted tours way before the boldest thinkers in tourism hardly wasted their thoughts on mountain bikers as profitable guest clientele. Quite a number would cast their mind back to the legendary days and nights of Snow downhill. At that time, a finished concept for a free ride park was already slumbering in the planning stages. Something unequally better, more versatile has resulted now.
We are looking forward to what comes next. But in the meantime let us enjoy a bit of the here and now...


Nauders rests in a climatically favoured, high valley at 1,400 metres, surrounded by the peaks of the Ötztal Alps and the Sesvenna group. Switzerland and Italy are both just a stone's throw away, as well as the artificially dammed Reschensee with its landmark, the church tower of Alt-Graun. The Tyrolean uplands, the Vinschgau and the Engadin have already joined forces for the classic tour network of over 2,000 km and 80,000 hm. They cooperate even more closely for the 3 country Enduro trails that opened officially in the middle of July. Four cable railways thereby transport bikers to currently twelve natural single trails with the difficulty level S0 – S3 with just one ticket. The expansion to further 22 paths is underway.

Tour info and GPS

The informative and clearly laid out trail map from the tourist board can be found near the cable railways, info-points and in many lodgings, as well as online.
The home page of the tourist association provides excellent coverage of the entire selection of tours – from cycle touring via road cycling to trail biking – includes GPS download.

Cable railways & public transport

Four lifts transport bikes in the border triangle: the Mutzkof double chairlift and the Bergkastel cable railway (both in Nauders), the cable railway Schöneben (Reschen) and the one in Haideralm (at St. Valentin). Their season lasts from mid-June (Mutzkopf starts earlier, Schöneben later) to 4/10 or 11/10. (Bergkastel). Various single tickets are available for bike transport (excl. passenger transport), additionally the three-countries bike pass day pass (€ 24,-) The most complete offer is The 3 country Summer Card Gold Bike offers are € 55.50 (3 days) or € 85.00 (6 to 7 days), which in addition to covering you for five trains (5th in Scuol), allows the use of the Swiss and the ÖBB post coaches, the South Tyrolean public transport including the Vinschger railway – facility of bike transport (chargeable) subject to availability - and there are also other offers.

Details of summer cable railways

Lodging recommendations

From 4-star hotels through guesthouses and holiday flats to clean and cozy private houses, there are plenty of biker-friendly accommodations in Nauders. We were treated royally, accommodated stylishly and completely cared for in****Alpin Art & Spa Hotel Naudererhof, www.naudererhof.at


BIWAK Nauders, Dr. Tschiggfrey Str. 32, 6543 Nauders, www.biwak-nauders.at

Rental, service

The tourist board websites contain information on service and rental stations.

Refreshment recommendations

Because of the lack of privately managed mountain pastures, rest stops are not as dense as in other winter sports resorts, but the selection of resting places is sufficient in any case. We found it tasted good and we liked it here:
  • Riatschhof, www.riatschhof-nauders.at (with in-house butter milk and farmyard ice cream from Novelleshof)
  • Hofschank Giern, www.giernhof.it (don't miss: home-made fruit juices, dumplings with salad, roast potatoes with bacon & eggs)


General information