It’s September 24th and the first snowfall has just dusted the alpine high above the Engelberg valley floor as KC Deane, Milo Zanecchia and I arrived in Zurich. We load our bikes and hit the road to Engelberg, eager to experience their recently developed bike trails. About 45 minutes into our drive, we reach the entrance to the Engelberg valley. The road gradually starts to climb, twisting in and out of the dark shadows cast down from the burgeoning peaks while the sun illuminates wild textures at the top of the valley. As we make our final turn into the historic mountain town, we are greeted by Mt. Titlis standing 3238 meters tall and our stoke is instantly elevated!
Back in October of 2017, I visited Engelberg on assignment and learned about their plans to develop their first official mountain bike trails, set to open in 2018. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many parts of the Swiss Alps and Engelberg is one of the most authentic alpine experiences I’ve had in this amazing country. When the trails finally opened, it was time to start planning this production and I knew just the guy to invite. KC Deane, professional skier and mountain bike athlete would finally have the chance to experience this terrain without any snow, well, maybe there will be a little snow! So here we are 6 months later with a clear forecast, excited to put our tires to the dirt and see what the Engelbergers have been working on here for biking.
high above Engelberg descending from Fürenalp on another perfect section of singletrack.
While some resorts in Switzerland have been bike-focused for years, it was unique to ride in a destination that hasn’t been overly developed and still offers a traditional Swiss experience. From the town of Engelberg, it’s a leisurely peddle through the timeless village to the bike friendly lifts. The Trübsee/Jochpass lift will give you access to the 3 bike-specific trails in the area: The Jochpass Trail, Hells Bells and Trudy Trail. The Jochpass trail is the first machine cut trail in Engelberg and it was designed with the intention of giving the rider the feeling of snowboarding. This trail is currently 4.5 km long and descends 400 gloriously flowy meters to the stunning Trübsee Lake. The Jochpass trail will eventually extend another 700 meters to the valley floor. Trudy Trail starts just beside the Jochpass trail and is a fun, slightly more technical downhill trail. On the backside of the Jochpass is Hells Bells, offering some super fun singletrack that flows seamlessly through the natural terrain. Engelberg is a destination with a rich history in winter sports and I’m excited about their careful expansion into a mountain bike destination.
“Seems Every Valley we ride into is even more amazing than the last.” -KC Deane
To really appreciate everything this area has to offer, go up any of the lifts and start exploring. On our 3-day shoot we spent our time riding all around Jochpass and Fürenalp. With over 500 km of trails for all abilities, we felt like the options were limitless. We met many friendly locals along the way and took our time to enjoy the scenery at the mountain huts, refueling on delicious Rösti, coffee and Swiss cheeses.
“ENgelberg may have some of the best light in the alps!” -KC Deane
There’s something special about being in the mountains here. The light constantly moves through the valley, creating shifting shadows that transform the landscape. KC nailed it when he said “Engelberg may have some of the best light in the alps.” and I have to agree. I think we will all be dreaming about chasing the Light in Engelberg until we can return.