South of Zermatt and Saas-Fee, the Tour de Monte Rosa is a hardcore mountain biking loop around the Monte Rosa massif. Initially formed for hikers, the Tour de Monte Rosa has become quite popular with extreme mountain bikers with a few variations from the original hiking route. It typically takes five days of riding with four nights in huts or hotels. This bikepacking route is usually ridden clockwise starting in Saas-Fee and ends in Zermatt. Along the way, there are very, very steep ascents and descents that are technically demanding with a mix of rocky singletrack, doubletrack, paved roads and a few ski lifts. Unlike other bikepacking treks in the Alps, the elevation and remoteness of the Toud de Monte Rosa necessitates packing plenty of warm clothing and carrying extra food.
The tour is typically broken into five stages as shown below.
STAGE 1 - Saas Grund to Macugnaga covers 24.4km with roughly 1,800m of climbing. The recommended lodging is at Hotel Flora in Macugnaga (0039-0324-65910 / hotelfloramonterosa.it / macugnaga-monterosa.it).
STAGE 2 - Macugnaga to Alagna covers 25.7km with roughly 2,000m of climbing. Just before rolling into Alagna, make sure to stop at Rifugio Pastore for refreshments. The recommended lodging is at Indren Hus Residence (0039-0163-91152 / indrenhus.it / alagna.it). STAGE 3 - Alagna to Gressoney St James in Val d’Ayas covers 33.7km with roughly 3,000m of climbing. There are two bike-friendly ski lifts along the way. The recommended loding is at Hotel Genzianella in St James (0039-0125-307156 / hotelgenzianella.it).
STAGE 4 - Gressoney St James to Theodulhutte covers 33.7km with roughly 3,000m of climbing. Again, there are some bike-friendly ski lifts along the way. The only lodging is at Theodulhutte (0039-0166-949400 / rifugioteodulo.it).
STAGE 5 - Theodulhutte to Zermatt cover just 12.9km but a descent of 1,800m. This final stage requires a very early start since it begins with a descent on the hopefully still frozen Theodul Glacier just below the Matterhorn. Generally follow the lift line down to the gondola station, where there is a technical singletrack leading to Furri.
Overall, Tour de Monte Rosa is the 16th most popular mountain bike trail of all 30 mountain biking rides in Switzerland.