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The singletrack descent down Merlet is one of Chamonix’s iconic mountain bike routes.
This ripping descent is steep, fast, and challenging, but it's all completely rideable by advanced mountain bikers. The first key question you need to answer is, “how will you get to the top of the trail?” Thanks to a road running to the top of the descent, Merlet offers a prime opportunity for a vehicle shuttle.
However, the end of the road can be very busy and parking difficult to come by, especially on the weekends, due to the popular Parc de Merlet animal reserve.
If you don’t want to deal with parking issues or prefer to do things the hard way, the route mapped here depicts a loop option with a grind of a climb up the steep paved road.
While the climb up the road can be brutal, once you reach the top of the trail, it’s ALL downhill! The descent begins with a series of dirt-filled stair steps.
While this is the only actual set of stairs on the trail, the rough ride foreshadows an even rougher, more technical descent to follow.
Merlet doesn’t pull any punches.
Sharp rock gardens lead into ledge drops, cascading root webs, and all manner of rocky gnar.
In places, you’ll be forced to navigate sniper rock lines on an exposed bench cut singletrack with a long fall down the mountain awaiting if you bobble your line! In the middle of the trail, you’ll encounter a crux rock move.
Be sure to scope this feature, as the best line isn’t readily apparent when you roll up to it.
The trail in the trench to the left is obviously unrideable, and far-right there’s an obvious drop line… but it drops a long way.
In the middle, there’s a line down the sharp, jagged rocks that might not seem plausible at first, but rolls more smoothly than you’d expect. Continuing down the trail, the size of the features mellows out a bit, but the roughness increases, with gnarled roots stretching across the trail.
The grade mellows a bit in places, allowing you to let off the brakes a bit and pick up the speed, skimming over the endless roots. Once back at the bottom, shake out the pump and wipe the sweat from your forehead.
That was a true rip! Now if only it was three times as long?!