Tirol has the first Gravel bike region
Last updated on 20.04.2023
The facts are impressive: four tourist regions in the Tirolean Ausserfern district, 18 gravel bike routes, over 22,000 metres in elevation difference with over 1,000 kilometres of routes and 58 accommodation partners. This is the first gravel bike region in Tirol. But away from this showcase project on the southern German border, the new boom in cycling in Tirol is also being recognised and catered for.
Gravel biking represents a sense of adventure and opens up completely new possibilities for riding off the beaten track and exploring new places. Tirol in the heart of the Alps offers a seemingly endless array of trail networks, accommodation in all categories, great cuisine, excellent possibilities for sustainable travel to and from the region, as well as countless opportunities for leisure, sports and adventure. Gravel bike tours through Tirol feature numerous alpine huts, magical natural sites and bathing lakes. As one would expect of this consummate holiday region, the network of cycle paths is perfectly developed and well signposted.
So many gravel tours in Tirol – and all accessible by train
The Ausserfern district is true paradise for gravel bikers. The four regions of Lechtal, Reutte Nature Park Region, Tannheimer Tal and the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena have joined forces to form Tirol’s first gravel bike region under the name, Gravel.Tirol.
During the varied round tour in Tannheimer Tal, you pass Lake Haldensee twice and are challenged by a gnarly climb to Krinnenspitze Peak. With an ascent of almost 1,000 metres in altitude difference, this route requires a good level of fitness for steeper terrain, but your efforts will be rewarded with fantastic views of the Tannheim Valley.
In the Lech Valley by contrast, you will find a circular tour for leisurely nature lovers. Following the natural course of the River Lech, this route leads along beautiful paths on both sides of the Lech Valley between Häselgehr and Weißenbach, without any challenging climbs. Covering just under 42 kilometres and 240 metres in altitude, this enjoyable tour is the ideal introduction to a gravel holiday in Tirol.
The network of gravel routes extends across the whole of Tirol. Many tours offer spectacular views and countless places to stop for refreshments. They all have one thing in common: they are accessible by train from east to west, from north to south.
Graveling in Imst
The sunny Gurgltal Valley is an excellent tip for gravel bikers. Nature lovers can take this circular tour around Mount Tschirgant (2,370 m) from Imst on well-signposted cycle paths, first up to the Holzleitensattel and then through sparse larch woodlands and wide alpine meadows down to Mötz. Fantastic vistas of the Gurgltal valley and the Mieminger mountains are guaranteed. The return journey to Imst is made along the well-known Inn cycle path.
Overnight stays in a zero-start hotel
Where cross-country skiers turn their laps in winter, there is a veritable Eldorado for all gravel bikers from spring to autumn: On the circular tour around Seefeld, the route first descends rapidly across the state border to Mittenwald. After a coffee break in Bavaria, the tour leads parallel to the picturesque Leutascher Geisterklamm gorge back to Tirol and along the River Leutascher Ache, before returning to Seefeld via the Wildmoos landscape conservation area. The “Weißes Rössl” house of well-being in Leutasch lies along the way and was built by Katherina and Roberto Werk in 2005 – an oasis of comfort where, despite top gastronomic standards, there are no five stars. Because according to their credo, the five stars are borne by the guests themselves.
First gravel biking and then a refreshing dip in a mountain lake
New opportunities are also opening up in the east of Tirol: The Thiersee circuit is now one of the hottest spots on the scene. After a detour across the Bavarian border, the route follows the idyllic Brandenberger Ache through Kaiserklamm Gorge and back to the starting point. During the summer months, gravel bikers can look forward to a lake rich in fish stock and filled with the finest spring water, nestled in the midst of the Brandenberg Alps: Lake Thiersee.
The origins of gravel biking in Tirol
Gravel biking is the ultimate present-day trend in cycling. This new form of cycling has gained widespread popularity in recent years, although its history is anchored back in the 1970s. Andreas Wieser, a pioneer in the health sector and passionate bike traveller, is considered one of the founders of gravel biking in Tirol: “Back in the seventies we called it a cross-country bike, with which we rode off-road into the winter, no matter what the terrain or the weather. It was a reliable everyday companion, with all the attributes of a racing bike for comfortable, fast riding on gravel and scree – perfect for adventures and ideal for fitness training, even during the cold months.” This has now become an economic stimulant in the already booming bike business. In 2021, bike sales in Austria hit the one-billion-euro mark for the first time ever and 13,000 gravel bikes were sold in the same year, an increase in sales of 38 percent.
Gravel biking is on trend
On average, Austrians cycle around 240 kilometres a year. Gravel biking is not about performance, but rather about a sense of adventure, community and outdoor activities. As the main cycling destination in the Alps in the heart of Europe, Tirol offers all this together with individually tailored overnight accommodation.