From Piz Nair through the Schlattain Valley: the ultimate alpine flow. The start is at the bike shop at Chantarella above St. Moritz Dorf. Those who already have their bikes can ride up from the village, and everyone else hops on the Chantarella funicular. From Chantarella to Piz Nair is a hefty 1,000-meter climb, which you can either surmount by stepping into the pedals or by getting a lift to the top, with the Corviglia funicular and the Piz Nair cable car.
Up at 3,000 meters, it will be cool, cold even: it is best to wear a jacket for the descent that follows. Moreover, the slopes are steep and the terrain slippery in places – we recommend you were not only gloves but knee and elbow pads too. We set off, keeping right; first, we’ll traverse a steep slope. With a bit of luck, we might spot an ibex or two.
Ahead of us is a bumpy ride down to the Lej Alv. The water of the ‘white lake’ is used to produce snow in winters. We stop at the dam to take in the view towards the Lower Engadin before riding on towards Corviglia. That is where the Corviglia flow trail sets off: perfectly moulded into the steep hillside, the trail brings us back to Chantarella along what feels like a hundred turns and bumps.
Here, Luis is expecting us. He runs not only the bike shop but also the “Alto Bar”, THE in place of the biker community. Treat yourself to a barbecued Argentinian chorizo and an ice-cold Palü beer – you might even be tempted to go for seconds, the chorizos are heavenly.
The Foppettas flow trail: for the easy-going. The starting point for our second route is the Skiservice bike shop at the bottom station of the Signalbahn in St. Moritz-Bad (at 1,780 meters). You will find a large selection of bikes, helmets, pads and outfits for all ages. The fitter half of the group can hit the trail and get a decent warm-up: pedalling uphill past Oberalpina and Salastrains to the top station of Signalbahn (2,120 meters).
The comfy alternative is to ride up with the cableway, which affords a bird’s eye view of the mansions on Suvretta Hill. The «Signalstübli» at the top offers the first opportunity to stop for refreshments; its sunny terrace is the perfect place to enjoy the view across the lakes that nestle in the Engadin valley while we wait for our sporting aces who have opted for the trail up.
Together, we head west to el Paradiso and then Alp Suvretta (2,210 meters). Against the backdrop of the spectacular Piz Julier, we head down toward Suvretta. The trail is well maintained. We will cross paths with hikers and bikers on their way up. It is perfectly normal that hikers and bikers use the same trails – mutual respect and consideration is a given.
As we approach the houses, we look out for the Foppettas trail: it forks out to the right just before the first house. The trail has a rhythmic flow to it and is set in a gorgeous pine forest. The trail stops somewhat abruptly in the middle of the woods. From there, a forest road will take you to the steep road to Champfèr, from where several routes will take you back to the Signalbahn. It will seem like you made the 400-meter descent in no time.
Following Nietzsche’s ramblings into the Val Fex. We meet at the bottom station of the Signal cableway once more. This time, though, we take the gravel bikes: traditional road bikes without suspension forks, but with somewhat wider and softer tyres. Some may opt for an e-bike as it will be a long journey. We head off towards Silvaplana and Surlej along Lej da Champfèr. At the castle that stands at the entrance of the village, we turn right and follow the path on the left shoreline of Lake Silvaplana until we reach Sils. The favourite haunt of poets and thinkers is the former home of Friedrich Nietzsche; Hermann Hesse, Max Frisch, Thomas Mann, and Kurt Tucholsky would spend their summers.
We turn the corner past Hotel Waldhaus, which is reminiscent of a castle and perched high above the village, and get our first glimpse of the Val Fex. The valley looks as pretty as a picture and is lined with places to stop for a bite or a drink in the sun. At the end of the valley, we ride up on the right-hand side to Alp Muot Selvas. The climb is worth the effort in more than one way: we will be served fresh local specialities produced on site, all the while taking in a breathtaking view of the glacier and mountain range that is bound to be the envy of everyone back home. We head back the way we came. This time around, though, we’ll have the breeze from Maloja as a tailwind and time will fly on the way home.
The Lake Tour: a leisurely e-bike outing. Once again, we meet up at the bike shop at the Signalbahn in St. Moritz-Bad. Sporting aces will grab a gravel bike, those feeling lazy an e-bike. We head off towards Silvaplana, passing Lej Marsch, a favourite spot with swimmers, then Lej da Champfèr, where we keep on the right shore. There will usually be a strong headwind in the afternoons, so it’s best to do the tour in the morning.
We cross the road bridge to Surlej. Past the bottom-most houses on the very left of the village, we find the path to Lej Nair. It will be a short but steep climb up through the woods – killing some 70 vertical meters – but the destination is every bit worth the pedalling. The Lej Nair (black lake) nestles in an idyllic forest glade. A perfect setting for a picnic – BBQ pits come equipped with firewood – and a guaranteed refreshing dip in the lake – time for a first break.
From there, we head back to St. Moritz. Past Lake St. Moritz, there is one last climb ahead of us taking us to Lej da Staz. The lido, whose heyday was in colonial times, is still the best place to swim. We lounge in the sun until it sets behind the Piz Julier. On our way back to Signal, we opt for the path through the woods to escape the headwind.