Southeast of Zurich in the upper Matteral Valley, the Zermatt area has about 50km of marked mountain bike trails. The mountains surrounding the town attract plenty of mountain bikers who are equally excited about the scenic, but challening, singletrack as they are about the lift-accessed trail system. The iconic Matterhorn towers above some of the most breathtaking singletrack in the world. These magical trails roll through high alpine lines well-above treeline and descent steeping into the valley below.
The most popular Zermatt mountain bike trail starts from the summit of the Gornergratt train (10,000 feet) and then descends 5,000 feet on perfect singletrack winding down past glaciers and peaks into Zermatt.
The next best Zermatt mountain bike trail starts from the Rothorn summit and rolls 1,500m of vertical all the way down to the village of Tasch where you can bike the road or take the train back to Zermatt. Starting right out of the lift, the trail traverses the scree-fields of the Oberrothorn. Then follow the singletrack coming down from the Sunnegga following the signs to Taschalp. Eventually, the trail descends through dense pine forest and picks up a doubletrack leading into Tasch.
Many of the Zermatt lifts are open to mountain bikes throughout the summer from May to mid-October. However, the trails usually have snow thru mid-June. The summer lift prices may shock you, especially when compared to other lift systems in Switzerland. The lifts open to mountian bikes spread across the Schwarzsee Paradise, Rothorn Paradise and Gornergrat areas.
Mountain Bike Route 1 is a 22.5km trek with a total vertical climb of 1,123m. The route starts in Zermatt and climbs through Furi to Schwarzee Paradise to Furgg and back down to Zermatt.
Mountain Bike Route 2 is a 16.9km trek with a total vertical climb of 954m. The route starts in Zermatt and climbs to Sunnegga Paradise to Grunsee to Riffelboden and on to Riffelalp.
Mountain Bike Route 3 is a 12km trek with a total vertical descent of 1,464m. The route starts up at Rothorn Paradise and descends through Blauherd to Sunnegga paradise down to Zermatt.
Mountain Bike Route 4 is a 20km trek with a total vertical descent of 1,518m. The route starts up at Gornergrat and descends through Riffelberg to Grunsee to Sunnegga Paradise and down to Zermatt.
Mountain Bike Route 5 is a 9.4km trek with a total vertical climb of 873m. The route starts in Tasch and climbs through Tashalp (Ottavan) and up to Mellichsand.
Mountain Bike Route 6 is a 17km trek with a total vertical climb of 390m. The route rolls gently from Tasch to Randa and back.
The car-free town of Zermatt is the perfect base for exploring these mountain biking trails. Zermatt is surrounded by 30+ mountains over 4,000m. This charming Swiss village at 1,620m elevation hosts over 2 million visitors each year, and very few of the tourists are from English-speaking countries (<4% US and <11% UK). While you may encounter very few Americans or English, everyone here seems to know alittle. But it is still recommended to know some German as well. The area is a mix of cultures with much French and Italian influence. You may start a conversation with a German greeting of guten tag, then here some French, and then end with an Italian ciao.
For dinner, try Whymper Stube or Schwyzer Stubli (traditional). If you are looking an amusing dinner, make sure to head over to Chez Heini, which is kind of a cult favorite due to its madcap décor and live entertainment from the chef.
For some nightlife, try the Pink Elephant, Grampis, Papperla Pub (younger crowd), Old Zermatt (older crowd), Elsies Bar, Panorama Bar on top of Nicoletta Hotel or Le Broken. After midnight, make sure to take in the dancing at Schneewittchen which is next to Papperla Pub at Bahnhofstrasse.
To reach this area by train, plan to take one of the many international connections to Birg or Visp, which is south of Zurich or southeast of Bern. From Birg or Visp, transfer to the narrow-gauge Matterhorn Gotthard railway, which only leads to Zermatt. From the Zermatt Bahnhof, there are plenty of electric taxis or horse-drawn carriages to assist you to your final destination.
To reach this area by car, you will need to keep in mind that Zermatt is car-free. The closest parking is in the town of Tasch, which is 5km from Zermatt. The major roads in southern Switzerland and the Lotschberg Tunnel from the north all lead to the town of Visp. You may want to park in Visp and take the train into Zermatt. Otherwise, you can drive south from Visp to Tasch to park. From Visp or Tasch, take the narrow-gauge Matterhorn Gotthard railway, which only leads to Zermatt. From the Zermatt Bahnhof, there are plenty of electric taxis or horse-drawn carriages to assist you to your final destination.