“The longer and more picturesque eastern half of the Portes du Soleil route in the French Haute-Savoie region.
— Lost Justpastnowhere
This is an abridged version of the awesome Portes du Soleil (Gateway to the Sun)
circuit 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. Six separate uplifts take care of most (3000 m, 10000 ft) of the climbing; this leaves only 500 m, 1600 ft of climbing under pedal power. That's a small price to pay for nearly 3550 m, 11650 ft of descending through stunning territory. It's possible for more advanced riders to complete the full circuit in a single day. This is the eastern portion of the circuit for those who want to allow two days to have more time to enjoy the scenery and perhaps a couple of the mountain huts or quaint villages along the way.
This portion of the circuit traverses singletrack high in the mountains, forest roads, and short segments along paved roads and traverses the several French (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 bike parks catering to the downhill crowd (Morzine, Les Gets, Avoriaz, and Morgins). There's also a side loop (not shown here) to Torgon that probably doubles the overall climbing.
Need to Know
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.
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. The route is also well marked with consistent signage in both countries.
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 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:
Chaux Fleurie Lift to PdS: Les Lindarets to Châtel
Super Châtel lift to PdS: Châtel to Morgins
la Folleuse 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 MTBProject.com.
You should also complete the featured ride Portes du Soleil Ouest (Gateway to the Sun West)
even if it is less spectacular so that you can claim to have done the entire Portes du Soleil circuit. The Torgon side loop is a lollipop loop that is accessed from the PdS: Châtel to Morgins
Happy riding but don't skid on loose gravel and have to get rescued by a helicopter like the poor chap I saw on the PdS: Les Crosets to Les Lindarets