FATMAP difficulty grade
This trail is about as good as lift accessed mountain biking gets.
Starting from the top of the Autannes chairlift a short pedal takes you to the Refuge du Col de Balme and over the border into Switzerland.
Although the ski lifts have done most of the work for you, there’s now the final push (literally for many) up towards the Croix de Fer 70 meters above.
It’s all downhill after this though! A difficult section of water erroded trail at the start soon gives way to a long flowing descent towards Catogne before you swing right to work your way across the mountain with stunning views towards a hidden Lac Leman to distract you from the trail.
As you move into the Trient valley the visual surprises keep coming, but the trail remains flowy and fast all the way to the tree line.
From here the trail does get steeper and the infamous alpine switchbacks start to feature more regularly, however it’s never too sustained or too steep, so walking short sections shouldn’t break your flow too much.
After 1300m of descending you finally roll into Trient, where you need to decide, back round to the Vallorcine lifts by the road and/or train, or right to continue into the Tour du Mont Blanc...? This trail is a variant of the Tour du Mont Blanc and so can get busy with walkers during the peak walking season of July and August.
Although at the time of writing there are no restrictions on its use by MTB’s, it’s often best to ride it later in the day when there are fewer walkers.