Pfitschertal, Tux and Saddelberg: 3 days bikepacking tour on the Alps

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Three days of bikepacking in the Alps, between Italy and Austria, on military roads and thrilling single trails. An exciting itinerary to do in the summer, between South Tyrol and Tyrol, starting from Vipiteno and climbing the wonderful Val di Vizze, diving into the narrow Zillertal, bypassing the Tux Alps to conclude by following the spectacular Grenzkamm border road between the Monte Sella and the Santicolo pass. Path for fine palates.


val di vizze

Da Vipiteno al passo di Vizze

A three-day cross-border mini-tour in bikepacking in the Eastern Alps, of extreme beauty and variety in every single stage.

We start from Vipiteno, which in itself is already worthy of a stop. We reach it by car, which we leave in the car park just off the highway.

We cross the town to stock up on supplies, leaving out the visit to the South Tyrolean center that we already know to continue quickly towards the high altitudes.

Slightly beyond the train station (it is also convenient to reach the starting point of the route by this means of transport), the road deviates, passes the still young Isarco and heads towards the Val di Vizze .

3000 souls lost in an immense territory at the foot of the Zillertal Alps await us. At first it invites you to push hard on the pedals with its gentle slopes but let's not be fooled. We pull the reins, holding back the initial fervor, aware of the bumps that will come.val di vizze in MTB

The route follows the road until it enters the small village of Prati where we find the first of many fountains. Once the water bottles are filled, we take the dirt road that follows the embankment of the rio di Vizze (Pfitscher Bach).

At the bottom of the village, we leave the stream and enter the woods. A beautiful forest road always climbs gently until it crosses a road that climbs up the eastern bank of the valley. The slopes become steeper until we reach a small church that dominates the landscape. Here we leave the road to take a fun path until we find the provincial road of Val di Pfitze. The dam that forms a lake more like a marsh is nearby and the track flattens on its banks.val di vizze mtb

In Novale we leave the main road again to take another track in the woods. No traffic, gentle slopes and shade: what more could you ask for?

We rejoin the provincial road in Saletto but keeping to the left orographic bank (to the right going up), we reach the off-road Grafau biotope.passo di vizze in bici

Further on, between bright meadows and balconies overflowing with bright surfies, we reach San Giacomo following the asphalt in negligible traffic even in August.

Continue on on the asphalt for about a kilometre, up to the hamlet of Stein-Sasso. They are the last indomitable houses at the bottom of the valley and here gravel takes over.val di vizze

The Pfitsch pass is still 9 kilometers away but the difference in height to be covered has been reduced to just over 700 m.

The first gravel section climbs steeply through the woods. You sweat: temperatures from low altitudes even if the 2000 m are approaching.val di vizzeval di vizze bikepackingval di vizze in MTB

Nestled between Eastern Breonian Alps (Tuxer Kamm) and Aurine Alps, this pass marks the border between Italy and Austria at 2276m altitude. Dominated by the Gran Pilastro for most of the ascent, we reach there in the early afternoon, with temperatures that are more usual 1000 m further down.

A small detour and we enter the Pfitscher Joch-haus refuge, right above the Passo lake.passo di vizze by bikeval di vizzepfitscher joch haus

After having refreshed ourselves and filled our eyes with new alpine panoramas, we continue the march.val di vizze26

Zamster Grund and night in the Zillertal

You don't even need a windproof jacket for the descent into the Zamser Grund, also because the path is quite loose and requires all our attention, making us sweat on large stone slabs.

Some steps make me regret the full, left at home to prefer the load capacity of the Genesis to the comfort of the Focus. passo di vizze panoramaval di vizze confine

Waterfalls overflowing with water highlight how much the glaciers are suffering.

The 2.8" tires do their job very well and lead me without too many worries to the Schlegeis Stausee, a barrier nestled between high peaks, whitewashed by what remains of imposing glaciers.zamster grund descent passo vizzezamster grund panorama

val di vizze34

The path becomes the road, cars fill the parking lot. We pass a short tunnel taking the dive that takes us to the foot of the concrete wall that retains the water of the basin just bordered.

A couple of amusing detours make us avoid a good part of the paved descent to reach Ginzling.zamster grund descentkamster grund

Halfway down a spartan campsite is full and so we continue towards the village, where we find a vulgar evening refreshment before camping on the edge of the Zemmbach stream.

We are aware that humidity will dominate this evening with the sky embellished by the Milky Way which cuts cleanly through the slightest glimpse of the celestial vault opening onto the narrow gorge.

Tomorrow it will still be uphill and tiring, but for today we'll enjoy a well-deserved rest in the fresh air.val di vizzediscesa ziller talzamster grund waterfallsfirst night in tuxer tent alp bikepacking

Go up towards Tux

Waking up on the edge of the Zillertal is fresh and damp. The tent is soaked in dew, a sign that there will be sweat again today.val di wobbly waterfall

The slight initial descent that allows us to oPassing through the narrow Zemmbach canyon is pure illusion. We follow the road between the rocks enjoying the quick and easy advance.

Before reaching Mayrhofen we leave the main artery and immediately the road rears up. A couple of hairpin bends lead us to Dornau and from there, on a secondary and deserted road, we head towards Tux. The slopes steepen a bit but the cool morning makes us continue at a good pace. tux

The road ends and a short drivable single track takes us back to the state road making us lose a few tens of precious meters in altitude.

The ugliest stretch of the entire itinerary begins, with 3 km in traffic, topped off with a couple of tunnels. The dirt cycle path on the Tux plain takes us, once again away from the traffic, to the city center where we attack a bakery before preparing to conquer the highest point of the entire route. 

Tuxer Joch, legbreaking ascent

The valley dirt road rears up just before reaching Hintertux. The surface damaged by the recent rains puts our technical skills to the test but we soon returned to asphalt crossing the main artery of the valley. A couple of hairpin bends between the freshly mown meadows flooded with manure lead us to the entrance to a large forest populated by hordes of walkers, all strictly downhill.tuxer jochtuxer joch

The glacier that once dominated the northern slope of the Eastern Breonian Alps bleeds waterfalls laden with water in every corner and languishes now relegated to the highest spurs of the group.

The lifts climb the rock like uncovered scars and the white sheets spread over the frozen blanket are tiny plasters with which you try to stem an unstoppable bleeding.tuxer joch ascent

Bikes don't exist, only ebikes on this route, and we'll find out why in the last kilometres.? We say goodbye to the grazing cows of the Bichlalm when we are still vigorous but already the first ramps towards the station Sommerberg's "low" sap my low energy. Luca is only defeated by the umpteenth ramp well over 20%.last kilometers towards tuxer jochpanorama on the glacier and the breonian alps

The last 2 kilometers insinuate themselves into a landscape that is nonetheless precious, albeit wounded. At times we go as far as conquering an excellent strudel in the incandescent greenhouse of the veranda of the refuge Tuxerjoch Haus.deserved refreshment

Awesome trail with 65 hairpin bends!

When we regain our strength, we quickly cover the few hundred meters that separate us from the actual pass.bike tux pace

The small lake near the pass is the prelude to paradise: 4 and a half kilometres, 65 hairpin bends and an entirely pedalable trail to descend from 2338 m to 1770 m in the Schmirn valley. We enjoy it like a courtship, accelerating and slowing down the pace at will, stopping on the most scenic stretches and accelerating on the short straights between one bend and the next.downhill with 65 bendstornantini traillast bends towards the Brenner by MTB

The road we take at the end of the trail, first dirt and then asfaltata, leads us first  to Schmirn and then, in the blink of an eye, into the canyon of the stream of the same name, avoiding having to go up the opposite bank of the valley.

We are in St Jodok am Brenner a little later and we decide that this may be enough for today. A restaurant in the village offers us an excuse for a sumptuous meal and the meadow just behind it is perfect for camping.st jodok am brenner campotende bikepackingbrenner tal mtb

The second day of this cross-border ring ends in a daring way and perhaps one day I will also tell you this story, but for now be content to work with your imagination and enjoy the images of the Alps in their splendor.

The last effort towards Saddelberg (Monte Sella)

The last day of this spectacular MTB loop in the eastern Alps between Tyrol and Alto Adige has already arrived.

As always, when traveling by bike, time seems to stop and fly at the same time. A satisfying and intoxicating dichotomy, which you would never want to do without.risalita brennero

In the saddle I feel like I live longer, far from the horrors of the real world, from the daily thoughts that often chase away dreams. With this light and dazed spirit I wake up and we set off, after a troubled night, towards the last rough patch of the journey.

The day is less intense than the previous ones, but another corner of the Alps awaits us to explore. The first kilometers help to warm up the legs on the state road that climbs towards Brenner, between Stafflach and Gries am Brenner.saddelber alm - malga monte sella

We deviate from the main artery towards the Stubai Alps. At Vinaders the air is still crisp when an immediately bad ramp leads us onto a new gravel section where we begin the climb towards the Saddelberg hut and the Monte Sella of the same name.< /p>

The dirt road takes over and the slopes accelerate their surge. The mountain hut is enormous, illuminated by the sun on the pasture plain below the road, among facilities which in winter I imagine besieged by colorful skiers enraptured by the white landscape.monte sellasalita monte sella

The border is a wooden gate for the cows: man is now free to move in these territories which were once the scene of bitter disputes. A few stretches, fortunately short, push and we reach the so-called “peripheral band” of the Vallo Alpino in Alto Adige.

On Mount Sella the panorama opens onto the glaciers of the Tux Alps to the west, while to the east the eye sweeps along the border line towards the Stubai Alps in eastern Rhaetics< /strong>, dominated by the Tribulaun di Fleres and the Pan di Zucchero further east.monte sella

Grenzkammstrasse up to the Santicolo pass

The military border road between Monte Sella (Saddelberg) and Santicolo (Sandjöch), which will lead us towards the Santicolo pass (Sandjochl) is a paradise of gentle slopes and wide views. You go up and down without ever working too hard.panorama monte sella brenneropanorama monte sella tuxer alpsstrada military monte sella brennero

A wooden fountain near a mountain hut at the foot of Monte Croce hides an unexpected treasure: crates of beer, radler and fruit juice are left to thecool in running water. Just leave 2€ in the piggy bank and help yourself and I won't be asked twice.val di vizze53

An anarchist sow managed to get out of her pen and find a bag of waste. The tires of my wheel distract her for a moment from her devastating fury but they mustn't be too much to her taste, luckily, because she returns with her muzzle empty chip bags and beer caps scattered on the grass.

Trying to drive her out turns out to be more difficult than it seemed and so we leave it to the herdsman on his return, certainly enraged, to clean up that pigsty that isolates itself in the perfection of the surrounding environment.military road santicolo

The last roughness is missing but the gentle slopes don't make us struggle that much to reach the Santicolo pass. The Fleres valley and the Isarco valley appear at the bottom and we, full of so much beauty, dive towards the valley floor.

The military road glides slowly and sinuous over the Brennero cycle path which here winds its way towards the Val di Fleres, to smoothen its descent.komoot pathmonte saddle military batterysanticolo

We intercept it and let ourselves be dragged first to Colle Isarco and then, with an unexpected final ramp, towards the historic center of Vipitenobrennerwinning couple!military road monte sella val di vizze56 discesa colle isarco

But first we catch a glimpse of a mirage and we can't help but take a break at the town's Imbiss. Potatoes and beer to celebrate a three-day MTB tour in the Alps on the border between Italy and Austria.

Three days that felt like an hour. Three days that felt like a month. By bike, time is relative, just let it flow.vipiteno

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ITA - Cicloviaggiatore lento con il pallino per la scrittura e la fotografia. Se non è in viaggio ama perdersi lungo i mille sentieri che solcano le splendide montagne del suo Trentino e dei dintorni del lago d'Iseo dove abita. Sia a piedi che in mountain bike. Eterno Peter Pan che ama realizzare i propri sogni senza lasciarli per troppo tempo nel cassetto, ha dedicato e dedica gran parte della vita al cicloturismo viaggiando in Europa, Asia, Sud America e Africa con Vero, compagna di viaggio e di vita e Nala.

EN - Slow cycle traveler with a passion for writing and photography. If he is not traveling, he loves to get lost along the thousands of paths that cross the splendid mountains of his Trentino and the surroundings of Lake Iseo where he lives. Both on foot and by mountain bike. Eternal Peter Pan who loves realizing his dreams without leaving them in the drawer for too long, has dedicated and dedicates a large part of his life to bicycle touring in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa with Vero, travel and life partner and Nala.