Saalbach-Hinterglemm Mountain Biker Guide (Local Experience)
Beautiful alpine mountains, lush green meadows and mountain bike trails in every direction: Saalbach-Hinterglemm is a mountain biker’s paradise! Fast descents and technically challenging trails are just as much a part of it as the cowbells and relaxing Austrian village atmosphere.
It’s the best bike region for beginners in my opinion. Downhillers, all-mountain, Cross Country and e-bike riders at every skill level will get their money’s worth here. There are trails for every taste to experience wonderfully varied vistas, routes and features.
In addition, the nearby Bike Park Leogang (host to UCI mountain bike world cups) is also reachable by bike or car. In general, this region is home to some of Austria’s best bike parks. And you don’t even need to to any uphill pedaling if you don’t want to!
Even if you’ve never been here and you watch MTB videos, chances are you’ve already seen glimpses of it. One of Austria’s biggest mountain bike destinations provides the beautiful scenery and tracks viral videos from riders all over. Even Fabio Wibmer filmed some of his viral hits on there very mountains.
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the hotels, tourist associations, or other businesses mentioned in this article. The experiences mentioned are my own.
The best time to visit Saalbach-Hinterglemm for biking
The gondola lifts start operating in late May to mid-June in two batches. And this is also the time of year when the Alps are at their most beautiful. The high season is in the summer months June to August, but September is still a good time to get to know the bike region and what it has to offer. While the weather in June and September can be a little unpredictable and sometimes downright miserable with storms and snowfall. The best time is in July and August when the weather is good and traffic on the trails is low.
And don’t forget: As is typical for mountain areas, the weather can change quickly. Make sure you come prepared for all eventualities like cold, wet weather in the middle of summer. Even snowfall is no rarity in June.
Just as important is bike choice if you got the option to choose from multiple bikes in your garage.
Which bike to bring
It’s best to bring an all-mountain or enduro mountain bike with 140 mm to 180 mm of suspension travel. Hardtails may lead to more punctures and dual-crown fork downhill bikes are sometimes too big for most of the tight, not-so-steep trails. Only on X-Line can a DH bike harness its strengths.
This whole bike region is not your typical bike park with one gondola. Saalbach and Hinterglemm are two neighboring villages a couple of kilometers apart. So there is some light pedaling involved if you want to see all the trails here! There is some pedaling from one lift to the other. And even some pedaling to get back to the lift after a ride down tracks like Z-Line.
Additionally, the mountain bike destination around Saalbach-Hinterglemm also includes Leogang and Fieberbrunn, which the BIG 5 Challenge is designed around. All in all, there are a lot more trails accessible with a bike that can climb.
Where to stay – Hinterglemm or Saalbach?
The first question to answer before it comes to actually selecting hotels is in which of the two villages you’d like to stay: Saalbach or Hinterglemm. They are about four kilometers apart, which is a short trip by bike. The only catch is that Hinterglemm lies 50 meters higher, so those 4 km are at a slight incline or decline, depending on the direction.
The only other way to get to Hinterglemm is by taking the Schattberg Xpress and then the Schattberg Sprinter gondolas and ride Hacklberg Trail down. If you miss that after 4 pm, you’re in for an uphill pedal home next to the street.Bike-Park Saalbach-Hinterglemm on Trailforks.com
Either way, both villages are beautiful and offer great hotels, food and bars. Hinterglemm is more spacious and busy (great for partying), while Saalbach is more idyllic and smaller. I typically chose the hotel nearest to the trails I wanted to ride most (or first thing in the morning).
A list of bike-friendly hotels can be found on the Bike’n Soul website (language options at the bottom). Being bike-friendly means that the accommodations offer you a secure parking space for your bike, changing rooms and sometimes even a bike cleaning or service station. Some of them even offer MTB and freeride tours with a guide and even provide you with lunch kits for the day.
I can’t speak about any other hotels, apartments, or residents. But here are the hotels where I myself have been staying at over the years and can personally recommend:
- Saalbacherhof **** (near Schattberg Xpress)
- AlpenParks Hotel Sonnleiten **** (near Kohlmaisbahn)
- Barbarahof **** (between Saalbach and Hinterglemm)
- Sonnblick *** (near Reiterkogel)
- Glemmtalerhof **** (town center, near Reiterkogel)
All those hotels are only minutes of walking distance away from the next lift, except the Hotel Barbarahof, which is located kind of in the middle between Saalbach and Hinterglemm. Still my favorite place and a great option overall, and especially if you are unsure which village you will be visiting more often.
Camping in Saalbach-Hinterglemm
During the bike park season, it’s also a great option to camp near the trails. Just know, that temperatures will drastically decline when the sun goes down. So bring an extra layer of warm clothing just in case.
As for actual camping spots, there are some official paid camping places. And then there are some bigger, empty parking lots to stay overnight without any of the accommodations or services of a paid camping spot.
One of my personal favorites is a large parking lot outside of Saalbach, which is not in use during the summer. You can find the exact location here. Here is one in Hinterglemm, right next to the Zwölferkogelbahn, which is a regular for RV campers, although I’m not so sure if it’s entirely trouble-free to stay there. They were built recently, so both are not visible in Google Maps yet, as of now.
Staying at a participating hotel also comes with an additional benefit: the “Joker Card”, which comes with countless cost benefits and free entries. Among the most important for bikers are the 2 free lift rides per day and a 30% discount for lift bike tickets in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Leogang, and Fieberbrunn.
The lifts around Saalbach start their limited operation in May and offer full service from mid-June until the end of September. At the beginning of October, the lifts are again in limited operation.
The Reiterkogelbahn is in operation until the end of October and thus a little longer. Here you can get all the opening times in detail.
In 2023 a bike pass costs around € 50 for a whole day and only a few bucks less for a 4-hour-ticket. Which is definitely on the upper level of Austrian bike parks up there with expensive parks like Leogang and Schladming. As a small bonus, bike tickets are valid from 3.00 pm on the prior day already for a couple of warm-up laps. You can check the current pricing here.
If you are in for a longer stay or binging Austrian downhill bike parks you might be better off with a season ticket for countless bike parks in Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Switzerland, called the gravity card (and might want to check out my video playlist to get some ideas). At current prices, the break-even is at about 15 bike park days.
The gondola lifts
That being said, Saalbach-Hinterglemm is not your typical bike park with one lift and all trails on the same mountain. Instead, you have a valley with 4 lifts and a huge number of trails available.
On four different mountains, you will find flowy single trails and rough downhill tracks and everything in between. On top there’re also technical cross-country routes and pump tracks.
In total there are 5 major gondola lifts operational in summer, named after the respective mountain, taking you up to the trails:
- Schattberg Xpress (Saalbach)
- Schattberg Xpress & Sprinter (Saalbach) or Westgipfelbahn (Hinterglemm)
- Hacklberg Trail
- Bergstadl Trail (via Schattberg Sprinter)
- Buchegg Trail
- Kohlmaisbahn (Saalbach)
- Panorama Line
- Monti Line
- Reiterkogelbahn (Hinterglemm)
- Blue Line
- Pro Line
- Hochalm Trail (pedal required)
- Zwölferkogelbahn (Hinterglemm)
To get a feel for all lifts or official downhill tracks and single-trails, check out the official track map.
Trails that await you
The above list of trails and gondolas can get overwhelming. Especially if you don’t know what to expect. So I’ll quickly explain each one including a full trail preview! Sorted from easy to difficult.
Panorama Line & Monti Line
Two names, two trails on the same mountain. In practice, this combination is one long beginner trail, connecting to one another and featuring the same characteristics of berms, rollers and small jumps. The entire way down it’s on a beginner-friendly incline without any steep, or technical sections.
The trail ends right at the Kohlmais lift station in Saalbach, which takes you right back up to the start of the Panorama trail. The start of Monti trail is at the middle station half-way up the mountain.
The Blue Line is the other blue (easy difficulty) track. It leads through open areas and fields and is not so steep, which is why it is especially recommended for beginners. The berms, jumps and all other obstacles are also suitable for inexperienced riders – which is not to say that advanced riders can’t have fun here with lots of speed.
It starts right at the top of the Reiterkogel lift in Hinterglemm.
Although the Hochalm trail can only be reached with a short climb from the Reiterkogelbahn, the view more than makes up for this short effort. Especially e-bikers will have their fun here.
The natural route begins with a long downhill section through open fields and forests and offers sharp turns, river crossings and easy root and rock terrain. At the end, it’s quick and easy to get back to your starting point or over to the Blue line.
On this trail you get the pure alpine feeling and you will quickly realize why it is one of the best flow trails in the world. But you have to earn your ride on it first. It takes 20-30 minutes of pedaling or bike pushing to get from the top of the Schattberg Xpress to the west summit, where the trail starts. Sometimes on weekends, the lift for that part is operational, though.
The unforgettable long descent is well worth it. I usually go for a lap on Hacklberg trail once or twice a day when I’m there. The panorama is among the most scenic in Europe.
This flow line is the newest addition and is the only easy way down the magnificent Schattberg mountain in Saalbach. Halfway down at least to the middle station. Only X-Line goes all the way down back to Saalbach.. It shares the same top half with X-Line and peels off into the forest later on, when X-Line gets rough and rooty.
It’s a mix between a blue and a red trail. It’s easy to ride and well-shaped, but sometimes it gets very steep to the sides and faster riders from X-Line will put on some unwanted pressure from behind. So be aware that two drastically different skill levels will share the same piece of trail. There are better options for complete beginners is all I can say.
This is the classic red (medium difficulty) track in Hinterglemm. This freeride route winds its way towards the valley with a breathtaking view of Hinterglemm. The trail runs through countless berms, wallrides, north shore passages as well as doubles, tables and smaller drops. All that with option lines to bypass that allows a slow approach to the route.
The start of the Z-Line is located directly at the middle station of the Zwölferkogel (12-Kogel) lift in Hinterglemm.
This freeride trail for advanced riders is located on the Reiterkogel and leads mainly through the forest. With rock sections, berms, doubles, tables, north shore variations and drops is truly not spared here. Basically, you get everything you could wish for here.
It starts left of the Blue Line at the top of the Reiterkogel lift in Hinterglemm.
The X-Line is a challenging track on the north side of the Schattberg mountain. With an altitude decline of 1,025 meters and a length of 6 kilometers, it is one of the longest downhill tracks in the world. Especially tough enduro and downhill riders are likely to feel right at home with the flow and the gorgeous panorama, before attention and skills are required in the technical rocky forest terrain. However, the track is most famous for its huge road gap in the lower section.
It starts at the very top of the Schattberg-Xpress gondola in Saalbach.
A hard one to pick over the breathtaking Hacklberg trail, but worthwhile anyway, is the Bergstadl trail, also starting from the west peak of the Schattberg mountain. It’s one of the more difficult downhills and the most technical single trail featuring steep natural sections over rocks, gravel, dirt and roots.
With most bikers opting for the Hacklberg, the Bergstadl trail is usually far more empty and calm for a surreal experience high up in the Austrian alps. Be sure you can master the X-Line before attempting this one! Bergstadl Trail is infamously difficult, and arguably the hardest trail in the region. I didn’t make it down without a crash…
Big 5 Challenge
Then there’s the so-called “BIG-5” Bike Challenge, an enormous enduro tour over five mountains in the two regions of Saalbach-Hinterglemm and Leogang that takes you to the best trails in a single day. In addition to the magnificent panorama, you get a whole 5 kilometers of downhill fun with only a few meters of incline while taking the lifts for most of the way.
It’s not an event at a specific time and date, but rather a challenge open for any mountain biker at any time during the summer. There are no prices to win, only the satisfaction of completing the challenge and experiencing five breathtaking trails in this MTB paradise.