If you've ridden all the Chamonix mountain bike trails, you can also access a large number of other bike parks and trails, some just a short drive away from Chamonix.
When you mention “Verbier” to most riders, they think of the excellent bike park and DH trails, but there’s much more to Verbier than just 200mm travel freeride bikes. The area has some incredible singletrack trails for all abilities accessed from the Le Chable-Verbier-Ruinettes cable car. What’s more, the cable car runs for a longer period than most resorts, so you can ride lift-accessed trails from the start of June to the end of October if the weather allows, and all just 1 hour from Chamonix.
Portes du Soleil
Possibly the most famous bike area in the Alps, the Portes du Soleil and in particular Les Gets, Morzine and Chatel, have a reputation for the biggest linked riding areas and most extensive man made trails. At little over 1hr driving from Chamonix the area gives you the opportunity to ride somewhere set up for bikers, by bikers on as many prepared jumps, berms and drops as you can manage. A very different feel from Chamonix, but a change can be as good as a rest! Read Graham's blog from Les Gets.
Portes du Mont Blanc
Megeve, roughly 30 minutes drive from Chamonix, may have a reputation of being the old money ski resort of choice, but the Portes du Mont Blanc area has embraced the new school sport of mountain biking with enthusiasm. Five chairlifts allow you to roam about on a selection of well groomed man made trails in addition to numerous natural tracks. What’s more, because the area is less well known, it doesn’t suffer from the mid to late season braking bumps of more popular areas. Take a look at the piste map and read Graham's blog on the area.
Situated between Chamonix and the Portes du Soleil, the Grand Massif stations of Flaine, Samoens and Les Carroz also have an ambience that sits between their two better known neighbours. Like the Portes du Soleil there are some excellent bike parks and the network of lifts links you quickly and efficiently around a huge area with little need for pedalling, but like Chamonix you’ll miss out on the best riding if you don’t head off with a map and a bike you can take up as well as downhill. Mountain bikers are actively welcomed to the area, but you’ll still have the trails mostly to yourself if you leave the bike parks. For more details take a look at their website or read Graham's blog.
If you’ve headed to the Haute Savoie ski areas from Geneva airport, then you’ve likely gone past the massive limestone cliffs of La Saleve and seen its cable car rising up above the motorway on the outskirts of Geneva. You may not realise though that the cable car takes bikes and a number of excellent DH trails wind their unlikely way down from the top. The trails are official and marked by small bike symbols, however it is not as easy to navigate as most ski station areas and you’ll need to be prepared to get a little lost and follow clues such as lots of tyre marks on the ground to find the best trails. What’s more, there are no green or blue options here, so novice riders will probably feel a little out of their depth. More advanced riders can bike here through the winter should another day skiing not interest them. Details for the Saleve cable car can be found here, and Graham's written a blog post about it too.
Hidden away just past Martigny, about 1 hour from Chamonix, is the small Swiss village of Dorenaz, and about 670m above it is the even smaller village of Champex. As it’s a long way up by road, a little cable car was installed to ferry passengers and goods between the two villages. Fortunately for us, it also carries mountain bikes - underneath! Local riders have built a DH track starting about 200m up the road from the cable car station which has a fearsome reputation and is used by several DH teams for their winter testing and training due to the lifts running all year. If you like the Vallorcine DH track, then you’ll like Dorenaz, but be warned, this is a track that takes no prisoners. For details of the cable car take a look here, or read Graham's blog for more info.
In the winter, many Chamonix skiers head through the Mont Blanc tunnel to ski Courmayeur and enjoy fine Italian food and drink. Less common though is to make the 1hr journey from Chamonix to La Thuile, just beyond Courmayeur, in the summer. This is a shame as La Thuile has built possibly the best network of natural feeling bike trails in the Alps from its two main chairlifts. If you are looking for well groomed jumps and berms then this may not be the place for you but if you like Chamonix’s natural trails and want something with a bit more flow, then you should definitely visit. What’s more, you can stop for an Italian coffee on every lap! For more details take a look here, or read Graham's blog.