Ein Mann fährt mit einem Gravelbike durch eine hüglige Landschaft.

Cycling

8 tours for gravel bikers: discover new trails

  • #Gravel bike
Porträtbild Stefan
Stefan
Hardware purchaser, Zurich Office
© Fotos

Gravel bike touring combines the joy of nature with the challenge of sport. Buyer Stefan presents his eight favourite routes throughout Switzerland.

Gravel bike touring is the perfect thing if you want to get away from busy roads. Of course, you shouldn’t shy away from riding off-road, too. That means you have to consider altitude as well as distance in your planning, and remember not to pack any unnecessary weight. There are also some very helpful apps which can help you navigate and show you where to stay overnight.

For inspiration, we have put together some ideas for tours from all over Switzerland, including a few equipment tips.

Ideas for gravel biking tours

Jemand fährt mit dem Velo über Gravel, rechts sieht man verschneite Hügel.
Photo © Manuel Scherrer

From the Wägital to Glarnerland

The Wägital is particularly popular valley for fishing and hiking, but it’s also worth a detour on your gravel bike. The route to Glarnerland via the Rossweidhöchi is great journey. It’s a long, steep, but very beautiful ascent on the south face, and you have to push your bike down an easy hiking trail for the last 120 metres. The downhill route through the Niederurnertäli offers superb gravel terrain – views included.

Ein Mann fährt mit einem Gravelbike durch eine hüglige Landschaft.
Photo © Manuel Maier

Over the Euschelspass from the Schwarzsee

The climb to the Schwarzsee (Black Lake) starts off steep but then becomes flatter as you hit the gravel. It is a typical tour in pre-Alpine landscapes and it’s also popular with e-bikers. The route is not marked as an official bike tour, but it makes an ideal route to Jaun. It’s a moderate tour for you and your bike with the descent entirely on asphalt. The tour is a great opportunity to discover less-known corners of Switzerland.

Ein Mann fährt mit seinem Gravelbike in den Bergen.
Photo © Manuel Maier

Along the Vorderrhein

From Chur, this gravel route takes you along the Vorderrhein river via Ilanz and Disentis up to the source of the Rhine. You can easily divide the bike tour into two one-day stages as part of the Rhine route. It’s also suitable as a leisurely trip for groups or families, and you can extend it as you wish. The last few metres lead over a gravel track to the Maighelshütte. If you want to make it to the source of the Rhine, hike from the Oberal Pass to Lai da Tuma, one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Switzerland and the source of the Vorderrhein.

Vier Personen auf Gravelbikes fahren einen Hang hinunter, weiter oben sieht man eine Hütte.
Photo © Graubünden Tourismus

Along the Vorderrhein

From Chur, this gravel route takes you along the Vorderrhein river via Ilanz and Disentis up to the source of the Rhine. You can easily divide the bike tour into two one-day stages as part of the Rhine route. It’s also suitable as a leisurely trip for groups or families, and you can extend it as you wish. The last few metres lead over a gravel track to the Maighelshütte. If you want to make it to the source of the Rhine, hike from the Oberal Pass to Lai da Tuma, one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Switzerland and the source of the Vorderrhein.

Eine Person fährt mit einem bepackten Gravelbike über einen Feldweg.
Photo © Stefan Roggli

Alternative route via the Sattelegg pass

This bike tour via the Sattelegg pass in the heart of Switzerland is a short but beautiful route in pre-Alpine terrain. The route runs entirely on gravel tracks and forest paths parallel to the pass road. That means you can easily avoid motorised traffic on the Gotthard route. If you are cycling for multiple days, you can extend the route towards Glarnerland or with a lakeside circuit of the Wägitalersee. The tour is suitable for gravel bikes and road bikes. This is a good route for testing and improving your bike and your riding skills.

Ein bepacktes Gravelbike liegt angelehnt an einem Stein.
Photo © Stefan Roggli

Around the Obersee by gravel bike

The circumnavigation of Lake Zurich is a classic racing bike route and on that is particularly popular with cyclists from the Zurich area. While bikers stick to the trails on the Buechberg, the upper part of Lake Zurich – the Obersee – is easy to ride around on a gravel bike. Gravel and paved roads alternate in equal measure on the mostly level route along the lakeshore. So this route also makes a good after-work ride or test ride for your new bike.

Drei Personen bei einer Abfahrt über die Wiese mit einem Gravelbike.
Photo © Stefan Roggli

Conquering the Kunkelspass

The ride over this pass is not only extremely popular with racing bikes, it’s also a good introductory gravel bike route. The starting point in Bad Ragaz can be easily reached by train from anywhere in Switzerland. The tour is a unique way to get from St. Gallen to Graubünden. At Vättis, it’s worth taking a lakeside detour along the Gigerwaldsee into the beautiful Calfeisental. Watch out on the descent, into the valley though: it’s steep and sometimes leads through unlit tunnels and over gravel roads. Parts of the route are marked as a mountain bike route by SwitzerlandMobility. Finally, it’s a comfortable ride along the Rhine to Chur via Tamins.

Ein Zelt im Wald, daneben liegt ein Gravelbike.
Photo © Stefan Roggli

Straight through the Jura

One of the advantages of a gravel bike is that you can move quickly on both asphalt and gravel. That means you don’t have to compromise on your tour plans. The hilly terrain typical of Switzerland is ideal for a tour. You can find forest trails just about everywhere for getting from one valley to the next. One great bike tour leads right through the Jura from Basel to Nyon. It’s best to stick roughly to SwitzerlandMobility Route 3, which you can supplement with gravel sections if you wish. On the way you can rest in one of the many youth hostels before continuing across Switzerland.

Equipment for gravel bikers

  • #Gravel bike

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