“An incredible 65 mile adventure with nearly 18000 ft of descending through beautiful French & Swiss pre-Alpine territory
— Lost Justpastnowhere
This is an awesome ride along the Franco-Swiss border in the foothills of the eastern Alps. The route is well marked with consistent signage across both countries and a single ticket covers all the necessary lifts. Nine separate uplifts take care of most (4800 m, 15650 ft) of the climbing; this leaves only 730 m, 2400 ft of climbing under pedal power. That's a small price to pay for nearly 5500 m, 18000 ft of descending through stunning territory. It's possible for more advanced riders to complete the full circuit in a single day (being mindful of the lift closing times), but most people will likely want two days to have more time to enjoy the scenery and perhaps a couple of the mountain huts or quaint villages along the way.
The main Portes du Soleil circuit comprises singletrack high in the mountains, forest roads, and short segments along paved roads and traverses several French (Les Gets, Morzine, Montriond, Les Lindaretes, Châtel) and Swiss (Morgins, Champoussin, Les Crosets, Champéry) villages, some more quaint than others. There are many other trails in the area and several bikeparks catering to the downhill crowd (Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz, and Morgins). There's also a side loop to Torgon that probably doubles the overall climbing.
You can buy a single lift ticket that allows you to access all the lifts in the area for EUR 26 or CHF 29 (2017 price). Do pay attention to the lift closing times as many of the lifts close at 16:45. While it is certainly possible to do the full loop in one day, it may be more enjoyable to take two days so you have time to enjoy some of the views and stop in some of the mountain huts along the way, while not having to worry about getting stuck in the wrong valley at the end of the day.
Any of the villages can be used as a base to explore the trails in the area, but consider staying in Morzine or Les Gets where large bike parks cater to large numbers of bikers. If you've not got a car, the Swiss village of Champéry is accessible by train and Morgins is easily reachable by the ubiquitous and bike friendly Postbus.
See the individual segment descriptions for more detailed information on each of the segments.
To make the full circuit (a) download the GPX to follow, (b) download the MTB Project mobile app
, or (c) memorize the matrix of lifts and segments below.
You can start the circuit anywhere but here we start at the parking area above Les Lindarets since this serves as a neat breakpoint between the western and eastern parts of the circuit. Try not to run over any of the goats riding through the Les Lindarets. This route also has the advantage that the individual segments generally become more spectacular as the ride progresses.
Take the ____ lift to the ____ segment:
No lift to Primary Road D228 PdS: Les Lindarets to Morzine
Pléney Bubble Lift to PdS: Morzine to Les Gets
Chavannes Lift to PdS: Les Gets to Morzine
Super Morzine Bubble Lift to PdS: Morzine to Les Lindarets
Chaux Fleurie Lift to PdS: Les Lindarets to Châtel
Super Châtel lift to PdS: Châtel to Morgins
la Foilleuse Chairlift to PdS: Morgins to Champoussin
Aiguille des Champeys Chairlift to PdS: Champoussin to Champéry
Champéry Cable Car to PdS: Champéry to Les Crosets
Mossettes - Suisse Cable Car to PdS: Les Crosets to Les Lindarets
... well, maybe download the GPX or the MTB Project mobile app
See also the featured rides Portes du Soleil Ouest (Gateway to the Sun West)
and Portes du Soleil Est (Gateway to the Sun East)
if you want to break it into two days. The Torgon side loop is a lollipop loop that is accessed from the PdS: Châtel to Morgins
segment if you require additional mileage and climbing.
Happy riding and don't get too carried away and start a second circuit when you get to les Lindarets for the 2nd time!