Riding in Spain: Val d'Aran

Nov 28, 2020 at 3:43
by Yaroslav Alpizar  
Val d'Aran region is a very well known skiing and biking destination both in Spain and France, a crossroads in the mountains in between the two countries, sharing language, history, and a rich culture. The biggest ski station in Spain, Baqueira, is located in the area. Skiing has been the main economic force behind the region growth, but things are changing, fast.

Around 30% of Val d'Aran territory is above 2000m high with mountains that reach near 3000m and Aneto mountain, the highest peak in the Pyrenees not far on the horizon. Its main village and capital city, Vielha, is located at the heart of the valley at 974m high with more than 200 restaurants and a similar number of accommodations to choose from. All this, together with a vibrant community of riders and trail builders are turning Val d'Aran into the new enduro destination in Spain.

Scenery you said
Mountains and landscapes you said?

Val d'Aran mountain biking trails

Some years ago, a group of local riders, seeing the success of other regions in the Pyrenees (ZonaZero, Huesca, etc) and knowing that they had an area that could match the quality of riding of any of those places, decided to create their own trail association, AranBikeParks, and let the word to mouth to catch up. With their own time and effort, they initially improved the existing trails but as they started to get noticed and getting more visitors, local authorities started to pay attention. Fast forward several years and today Enduromies and Val d'Aran Mountain bike park are the two main destinations in the valley. With more than 300km in +100 trails and a total descent of near 23000m the area has quickly gained attention among Spanish and French riders and more and more are spending several days in the area.

Aran51BikeArea is the local association that encompasses every other smaller company in the region. A couple of them, AranBikeParks and AMH Experience are the seed of the whole idea and with their guiding, shuttling and accommodation services they offer all that a rider needs to discover the best trails and enjoy his precious holiday time to the last minute.

Preparation is key for a good customer experience, AMH Experience really pay attention to every detail

David one of the main faces behind Aran BikeParks trail builder driver guide everything in one
David, one of the main faces behind Aran BikeParks, trail builder, driver, guide, everything in one

A week in the area is not enough to even scratch the surface of what they have to offer. Starting with a classic local descent, Entecada, 6.5km and 1170m of descent, not for the faint-hearted. To get to the top, at 2045m, a shuttle drops you at 1500m, you still need to climb up those last 500m, but the views and the landscape is so astonishing that you quickly forget about it. Once on the trail head, a long drop awaits with an open starting section with typical alpine trails, exposed and technical. Then things get faster and loose inside a huge forest, with high-speed trails covered in leaves and hero dirt if you are lucky to catch it right after a rain. Once in the small village of Les Bordes at the end of the trail, the shuttle awaits to hit the nearby Val d'Aran Mountain bikepark with short but fast and fun trails, Osito, Projekt, or Bassa Oles, those are the names that you will want to repeat for the rest of the day.

Pedro and Victor are the guys behind AMH Experience and they know the region as their own house
Pedro and Victor are the guys behind AMH Experience and they know the region as their own house

Briefing before departure everyone is stoked for what awaits ahead
Ready for an amazing day
Briefing before departure, everyone is stoked for what awaits ahead

Entecada trail is non stop fun
Entecada trail is non stop fun

The views from the top of Entecada trail are just unbelievable
The views from the top of Entecada trail are just unbelievable

Having fun is what matters
Pedro focused on those switchbacks

Another day, another amazing area, just a few kilometers from the previous riding area, is the known "Enduromies" area, the one that started all the rest of the trails in the region. Pruedo is the crown jewel, 6km with near 400m drop, with jaw dropping views over the valley, traversing old mining tunnels on natural trails used for centuries to communicate the different valley villages. Eth Taro, Eth Sanglier, Eth Sanglier 2.0 and Taro Blue will be the trails to follow, a bit more sketchy than other trails in the area, but with Aran Bikeparks and AMH Experience as guides, you will feel at home and well-taken care of. The trails have lines and features for all level of riding. Want fast, gnarly, big jumps, you have it. Loose, step, fast, for sure. Pedally, flowy and all-mountain oriented, sir yes sir! Everything you may dream of, they have it.

Better keep your eyes on the trail
Better keep your eyes on the trail

Starting of Pruedo trail can t get any better through centuries old mine tunnels
Starting of Pruedo trail, can't get any better, through centuries-old mine tunnels

Pruedo trail is one of the main trails in Enduromies area you MUST do it
Pruedo trail is one of the main trails in Enduromies area, you MUST do it

Quick stop for a snack

Embedded on AranBikeParks roots, is their trail building skills and willingness to improve all the trail network. David, Marc, Javi, Dani, and Albert work tirelessly to have all trails ready for the next group of riders. They have grown in the area, caring for every switchback, every drop and every single feature that they have built. Spending hours in the trails after a long day of riding is not unusual, to repair any damage or just to improve that section so every rider finishes with a smile on his face. Collaboration with local authorities is important and Naut Aran city council is aware of the growing importance of mountain biking in the area, helping the trail association to keep growing the local trail network. At the moment of writing this article, 4 new trails are been built, with a total length of 15 km and a drop of 3000m. More are planned for the next years.

The work that AranBikeParks have put into these trails is astonishing

Best trail watch dog ever
Every detail counts to have a perfect flowy trail
The work that AranBikeParks have put into these trails is astonishing

Those dogs are fast don t try to overtake them you will fail for sure
Those dogs are fast, don't try to overtake them, you will fail for sure

And don't think the region only suits you if you are a hardcore baggies rider, there is everything for everyone. AMH Experience has a long experience working with families from ski lessons and they have applied all that knowledge to get kids into mountain biking, climbing, or even canyoning. There are e-bikes for rent if you feel your other half is not capable of that long climb or for those teenagers that don't leave the jump park.

AMH Experience offers ebike tours for all levels of riding here in known Pruedo trail
AMH Experience offers e-bike tours for all levels of riding, from families to hardcore riders

Every detail counts
AMH Experience also offers learning sessions with kids

AMH also offers learning sessions with kids
Pedro teaching some valuable lessons to younger generations

Val d'Aran area is also very well known as a ski destination, with the largest and most visited winter resort in Spain, Baqueira-Beret ski station. Created in 1964 nowadays it has up to 161km of marked pistes that extend from 1500m to 2610m high. Due to its westerly aspect and position on the northern side of the Pyrenees, and consequent Atlantic climate, the resort of Baqueira-Beret has a very good snow record throughout the winter. In addition, there are more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) of vertical drop and an extensive skiable zone.

The resort offers 99 pistes of different difficulties:6 green, 40 blue, 37 red, and 15 black. Those can be reached by one gondola lift, 20 chair lifts of which: 3 six seaters, 6 four-seaters, 7 three-seaters, and 4 two-seaters and also 7 conveyor belts and 7 ski lifts. All same services that you can enjoy as MTB destination are available in winter. For details for ski classes, bookings, and more check AranSport Baqueria ski school and shop.

Baqueira-Beret Ski Trails

And at the end of the day, you will for sure want to stretch your legs, have some good quality food, and enjoy some local beverages. Fear not my dear visitor, you will be able to taste the best local IPAs at the local brewery Refu Birreria and some tasty delicatessen at Eth Restilhe. That's just two of the 200 hundred places to choose from to regain some strength and be ready for the next day. Val d'Aran has also several historical and cultural places to visit, their 800 years old romanesque church on the main plaza, museums, and narrow medieval streets where to get lost and discover this ancient village, a crossroads in the mountains between France and Spain.

You can collaborate with Aran BikeParks by donating through Paypal on their local trail association profile on Trailforks. Every euro they receive I guarantee will be well invested in improving trails so that each visitor can enjoy it to the fullest.

Local Knowledge
Rely on AMH Experience & AranBikeParks for all your questions, doubts, and anything else, they will be more than happy to help you to discover the best trails and enjoy your stay in the area.
Getting here: Barcelona airport is approximately 4h drive from Vielha. There are several bus lines from 2 different companies with daily schedules for approx 35€.
Weather: Summer highs of 25°C (77°F) and lows of 11°C (52°F), while winter highs are 6°C (42°F) and lows -2°C (28 °F) with moderate precipitation year-round. Heavy snowfalls from late November to early April.
Bike shop and repairs: There are several bike shops and rentals in Vielha.
Food and drink: Vielha is a known ski destinations with near 200 different bar and restaurants to choose from with a wide variety of food offer
Where to stay: Plenty of availability, again, as it is a known ski station lots of apartments and houses are empty in summer. There are also plenty of hotels to choose from.

You can follow AranBikeParks and AMH Experience their social media profiles.
+ AranBikeparks Instagram
+ AMH Experience Instagram

Trailforks regions mentioned: Val d'Aran