The Portes du Soleil is one of the best places to go mountain biking in the world. I've biked in a few of the other best places and they are all great. I ran an MTB company from Morzine for 10 years (Endlessride - it is no longer!) and between them our guests and our guides have been to ALL the great places on their bikes. We never could decide where the best place to go was. Morzine was on the list though.

But is it a suitable places to go if you are a beginner? Or have a young family? Is there any family friendly biking in Morzine? We would usually guide families and beginners full time. We could keep them safe but we knew that without local knowledge a beginner could find themselves out of their depth in moments. We saw it every day. Since we started our in the year 2000 the situation has improved bit by bit every year. 16 years on the Portes du Soleil is a very different place. There is no escaping the fact it is orientated towards the downhill rider, despite this the various tourist authorities have tried to soften things a bit to appeal to their preferred customer, the active family. The best evidence of this is the Multi Pass. 2€ a day to swim, skate, play tennis and use the lifts (to go walking, not biking!!)

ecureuils

Les Ecureuils, start here, if this is too much go back to the Dereche

 

Morzine itself doesn't have the best family friendly trails. Chatel and Les Gets do. It does site in between these two towns though, so for the most variety it may well be the best base. If you are not sure, and this can often seem a bit overwhelming, then hire a qualified MTB guide. At least to start. I can recommend some. Just ask! Otherwise read on...

Morzine/Les Gets

The most family friendly MTB trail is the footpath that runs up and down the river. No ski lifts required! It starts by the outdoor swimming pool (and new skate park) and runs on both sides of the river. Called the Parc des Dérêches it is suitable for all ages and almost flat. The easiest longest circuit in the park itself is 10km, it's easy to extend beyond this on the well sign posted path towards St Jean d'Aulps and even then (take a map for this bit) on to Le Biot, 95% off-road and suitable for everyone. From Morzine to Le Biot and back is 28km, it is a "there and back" ride unless you are happy riding on the road. And for most families I would recommend against this. It is too busy. It's also a great wet weather alternative to using ski lifts for more experienced riders. Just watch the wooden bridges when it's wet! The picture below is the start of the route. The full route is available on openstreetmap. Or the paper map Morzine IGN Top25.  You can even get the IGN map online now too.

dereche

The Morzine section of the best family bike ride in Morzine, the Dereche, the red arrow points towards St Jean d'Aulps

The Morzine and Les Gets MTB maps are available for download here. A high res image is below.

morzine

Some more ideas for the family on a bike. The following are "itinéraire", so not marked and patrolled routes. Starting in Les Gets.

Route A "Boucle des clarines", 6km on Mont Chéry in Les Gets. Very easy, wide open track, great views on Mt Blanc. I have never made a specific trip just to do this. It's there anyway, the Route B that seems to follow on from this is a road. A quiet one. So for a really basic family trip, take the Mont Chery lift, ride route A and then descent back to Les Gets on the road via Mt Caly.

Route D "Tour de Mont Chery" is more like XC mountain biking. 13km and highly recommended. Family friendly, like a blue route at a UK trail centre, as long as the family doesn't mind heights! Marked as a "Zone technique" on the map. We used to refer to this trail as "the dangerous trail", thanks to the warning signals.  The tricky section does often close due to landslips.

Route F "Tour du plateaux de Loex", a black route! Probably because of the distance (14km) and the fact you will need to be more self sufficient and may end up consulting your map. If Route D went well, then technically this will be fine too. Be careful, a wrong turn down to the Samoens valley will end the day in tears. The easiest way back to Les Gets will be in a taxi!

As far as the actual MTB "pistes" go, start with #1 "La piste des Ecureuils" - "the squirrel piste", AKA "The Family DH". It's a beauty and is a perfect introduction to the type of MTB piste the area has to offer. If you struggle on here then don't move on from the green's. It's so good the full on DH brigade love it too, which is fine if they give the families a wide berth (they often don't), so beware when stopping to admire the view and get off the piste and out of their way!

#20, the return from Les Gets to Morzine should be OK. It's marked as a red. Probably because of the steep section after the Atray restaurant (stop there for a drink!) though you can always walk this section. The best easy route home from Les Gets to Morzine is probably #24  "Morzine par Les Mouilles".

#22 or #23 are your best options from the top of Pleney, both blue runs, these both have berms and steeper sections though. My preferred choice is #22. I think #23 is slightly harder and often a bit wetter. The best of it is over by the time you get to the Cherche Midi car park, from here you can keep going until you get to Morzine or turn left and head back to Les Gets via the road of the "Morzine par Les Mouilles" in reverse.

The liaison with Les Gets is a strange one. It's marked as a red and justifiably so. If this is going to be too much then (and you'll need a map) start down it but nip on to the road at Nabor and roll down to Les Gets from there. You can carry along it, the route is straightforward but it's hard not to get sucked into the main Les Gets downhill, somewhere you don't want to be with a family!

Avoriaz/Chatel

From Morzine this is a day out. It can be shortened by taking a car around to Linderets. I've described it from Morzine itself. Head up the Super Morzine telecabine and then the Zore chairlift. At the top there is a wide, smooth and sandy track that leads towards Avoriaz. After a few km you'll arrive at the Col de la Joux Verte. From here the MTB route is well signed posted but probably too hard for most children. The safest thing to do would be to descent the road to Linderets. From here the Chaux Fleurie chair leads to the Chatel bike park.

Avoriaz

Chatel MTB piste maps are available for download here. Start off on the green run, Panoramic, one of the classics of the area. Not to be missed. For most this is enough. For some this is already too much. If Panoramic is your limit when you arrive at Plaine Dranse head back up the lift! If you think you can take a little more then head down the blue run, Serpentine. I've just spotted Eterlou on this years map (2016), it's marked green, either it is new for this year or I've missed it. Either way I can't offer advice yet. I'll check it out when the area is open at the end of June.

chatel

Getting home from Chatel is another of those little issues that a family MTB team can face. Especially if green runs are the limit. The easiest option when stood at the top of the Rochassons chair is to hike up a few metres to the Fantasticable (marked as a red circle on the map below) and then take the path signposted towards the Mossettes. This will take a big dog leg back on itself, signposted for Linderets. Then stick to the path marked GR5 back down to the valley. This is a winter ski piste lower down, fairly steep and gravelly, not ideal but it is the easiest way.  I've highlighted the path to take in red. I've also marked an obvious blue run called Chesery with a tricky steep start and then a black run, Toboggan which is aptly named. These are the "official" ways down.

Avoriaz return

 

Remember walking with your bike is better than falling off your bike! From Linderets the best route back to Morzine is to ride down the road, yes the road (at certain times of day it can be a bit crowded) descend from Linderets to Ardent and follow the signposted bike route around the Lac Montriond back to Morzine.

So that's enough to keep you going for 3 or 4 days. One last tip, you'll notice most people are wearing protection, knees and elbows and full face helmets. For the riding I have described you'll need a helmet, full finger gloves and I recommend some knee pads too. They will mean that if you do fall off you will probably be able to ride the next day. Without them you'll loose so much skin that cycling will seem far less appealing!

 

 

Posted on by Gareth Jefferies

21 Responses to Family friendly mountain biking in Morzine

  1. Chris Daffin says:


    Excellent post, thanks for that! Exactly what we were looking for our summer trip


  2. Roger says:


    Really useful, thanks. My 8 yr old son wanted to try MTB and I didn’t know where to start so we went up the Pleney lift and turned right onto the ‘Family’ run. Good grief, that was interesting!

    Then we did the blue Atray which was better then the green in Les Gets which was perfect.

    Wish I’d read this first!


    • Gareth Jefferies says:


      🙂 Glad to hear you are still in one piece!


    • Chris Daffin says:


      We just got back from the summer trip and the above was very helpful. I did a couple of the runs mentioned above and thought they’d be a bit hard for my kids. After talking to people out there we went up the Super Morzine side (as described above, bubble then Zore chair), turned right, followed the path for a bit, past the blue on the right, and then on the right you’ll see a start gate for the easy Soylent Green. This one’s great fun, loads of bermed turns but easy for the kids. At the bottom of that you can get the chairlift up to the top, turn right and follow the trail again. There’s a small fork at which you should bear right (it’s signed for bikes) and then just along there is the start gate for the green trail Alpage. That takes you all the way back to the Super Morzine bubble. There’s one part right at the end that’s pretty steep but to avoid that look for a point near the end where there are blue and green arrows pointing left and right respectively. Head to the left and follow a trail over to your left (rather than the trails) which skips the steep and brings you back to the trail just above the bubble.
      This was definitely the best route I found for kids (9 and 11) and wife to get started on easy greens and get used to berms and rollers, before moving onto the harder trails.


      • Roger says:


        Excellent. We did go up SM / Zore on foot and saw signs to beginner greens to did wonder. Sadly it’ll have to wait until next summer now and I need a better bike. I had a problem with my back brake which I assumed any Morzine bike shop could fix but they don’t deal with anything that cheap!

        Thanks for the tip…


      • Gareth Jefferies says:


        Chris, thanks for this. I’ll see if I can add some maps that help with those easy runs on the Zore.


  3. Kate Eynon says:


    Hi

    We have a 9 year old and 6 year old and are interested in camping either in Morzine or Le Gets. Both our kids have a lot of riding experience, but we would love any specific recommends and any campsite advice.

    Thanks


  4. Tara says:


    Great article thanks! Heading out to Morzine on 13th – yikes that’s tomorrow! … and would be great to get details of any good local guides to show us two beginners around! We’ve got a place in Morzine so want to learn some good trails without injuring ourselves (we are husband and wife in late forties!)


  5. Roger Holden says:


    Hi again. Just gearing up for a 2nd attempt at some biking with my 9 year old. I see there’s a yellow ‘PDS Tour’ route down from Avoriaz towards Lake Montriond via Lindarets and Ardent. Do you know if this is suitable for a 9 year old with not much experience?
    Thanks


    • Gareth Jefferies says:


      If you would like a map, let me know…I can mark one up. From the Col de la Joux Verte follow the road downhill towards Les Lindarets, on the 4th bend (pt 1680 on the map), take the signposted route to Les Brochaux, beware DH riders overtaking at speed! At Les Broachaux turn left back towards Les Lindarets, still off road. At Lindarets get back on the road (can be busy with tourist traffic and coaches going to see the goats!) and descent to Ardent, here you can go offroad to the Lac de Montriond, then follow the signs from there all the way to Morzine (80% offroad). Then take the Super Morzine lift followed by the Zore lift to return to the Col de la Joux Verte on an easy signposted track. A classic start to the riding in the PDS.


  6. Gareth Jefferies says:


    Yes, a bit steep to start off with, start easy and build up…not start hard and lament the mistake in the hospital later.


    • Roger Holden says:


      Brilliant – the other half can drive us up there and head on down to the lake while the boy and I cycle down… really looking forward to it, thanks so much for your help.


      • Steve says:


        We rode that yesterday as part of a trip around Mossettes with 10, 12 and 14 year olds. We took Super M then Zore, rode Soylent, Seraussaix back up, followed the route as described to Les Broachaux (14 year old and I rode the top section, too much for others for now) and took lift to Mossettes. From there we rode around the summit past the cross and to the Refuge de Chesey where we followed the trails back to Linderets. There are a couple of steeper sections and at one point the youngest pushed for a short section. I generally ride with him to make sure he’s OK. The views were fantastic and we had a real feeling of being in the mountains.

        Some great advice on here, thank you. I rode the blue ‘Family’ trail with my eldest a couple of days ago, he loved it but thought it was badly named!


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