People always ask me about mountain biking in the Pyrenees, and what are the best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees. Or even just, what mountain bike trails do we do on our Pyrenees holidays. Our opinion is that the best trails are the ones you haven’t heard of, the new ones or the ones which have just been updated recently. I don’t think that you are going to find the best mountain bike trails in the Pyrenees from an guide written by someone who visited once and rode a few trails! I guess it is easiest to find out what the most famous Pyrenees trails are, the ones which have become the best known trails.
This isn’t meant to be a guide, or totally thorough so if your favourite trail has been missed out don’t worry. The Pyrenees mountains are big and we don’t claim to know every trail! We typically guide from around the middle of the Pyrenees all the way west, to the Basque Coast. We guide a bit on both sides, but our trips are based in Spain, even if we venture into France.
Here I’m going to share the most well known Pyrenees trails in our area and whether I think that they live up to the hype.
This was the first trail I rode in Benasque, some time around 2010 I guess. I had just been signed up as an Orbea ambassador and went with a brand new Rallon which I was so pleased about. At the top of this trail I stopped to take a photo and as I was moving the bike I slipped and the bike slipped out of my hand and tumbled about 300m down the mountain! I was gutted but luckily the only damage was to the front wheel, and Mavic helped me out and sent me a new one so I didn’t have to confess to Orbea! (I hope that you aren’t reading this at Orbea!)
Is this one of the best trails in the area? The answer is yes, it is a great trail. If you are pedalling up then you have a very long climb, but if you are getting just one shuttle in the area then it is definitely worth it. On our trips we offer unlimited shuttles, so we very often miss this out because the ratio of time to drive up and ride down is much lower than many other trails we ride. Focussing on other trails means we get much more descent in a day.
basqueMTB rating: 9/10 if you only have one shuttle. 6/10 if you have a shuttle van.
Another famous trail and one that we also have been riding for many, many years. Is it the best trail in the area? The answer is definitely no. It is really impressive though and if you have a shuttle van you can ride some really cool trails below the main trail. This is a feature of our High Pyrenees mountain bike holidays. If you only have one day in the area then it is a great way to get that high mountain experience and you can ride all the way back down to Bielsa, making a big day out.
basqueMTB rating: 4/10 without shuttle, 10/10 with shuttle.
This is a well known trail which makes a big loop crossing over the spine of the Pyrenees and linking Spain and France. It is absolutely spectacular, and I think it is some of the best scenery in the Pyrenees. If you do it in one day it is an absolute epic. The problem now is that there are so many walkers on the trail and it really isn’t fun to ride any more. We still ride it occasionally but we climb up from Spain with head torches and then get a dawn descent, getting to the bottom before there are too many walkers. My recommendation is to avoid this trail, if you ride it when it is busy you are just causing problems for local riders and the biking scene generally in the area. If you want to ride something similar then ride the Puerto de la Picada, next one to the east, and link it into Val D´Aran to make a great day out. This is what we do on our Pyrenees Odyssey.
basqueMTB rating: 0/10, not worth the hassle.
Another trail that I rode before it was famous! This was my first big ride back after a severe back problem that had doctors telling me I would never ride again. It is an amazing experience and we ride it on our Pyrenees Odyssey mountain bike trip, but right from the very start, the “integral” which not many people get to ride because you need a support vehicle. You can also ride it as a circular from Benasque, with a 2 hour hike-a-bike and I think it is definitely worth it. Be warned, the hike-a-bike is steep in places and physical. Also the last part of the trail is ruined so you need to take some double track and link into one of the official Puro Pirineo trails to take you back to Cerler.
basqueMTB rating: 10/10
The classic in Ainsa. It is the only trail that it is worth getting a single shuttle for in the area. It makes a nice morning out, you get a shuttle from Ainsa and then ride back to town. It is a great morning trip. If you are pedalling up I would definitely not recommend it, the climb is long and horrible and there are loads of better trails to enjoy. If you have a dedicated shuttle van, like on our Ainsa Enduro mountain bike holidays, then I would not recommend this trail because you get much more bang for your buck sticking to faster uplifts and getting more descending in a day.
basqueMTB rating: 8/10 for a single shuttle, if not then just ride it from Oncins.
Just remember that if you ask 10 people you will get 10 answers. And if you ask me tomorrow I might well give different answers!
Why not let us show you our favourite trails?