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This classic big mountain route has a well-deserved reputation with mountain-bikers all over the world for being an epic Alps trail.
Consequently, it's on most riders' bucket list—and rightly so! La Varda provides the opportunity to ride in a magnificent, alpine arena and to enjoy a huge singletrack descent: one of the most iconic in Europe.
It offers a fantastic, technical descent making use of existing hiking trails with mixed terrain, and providing first-class alpine views. The most popular way to get to the top of the mountain is to take the Transarc 1 and 2 gondolas from Arc 1800 of the Les Arcs resort.
Although the gondola takes care of the brunt of the climbing, be prepared for a mix of riding/pushing/carrying your bike (approximately 20-30 minutes) to the start of the route from the top of the Transarc lift.
Follow the hiking trail behind the lift area to Col de la Chal and Lac des Moutons. Expect fast-rolling hardpack to rough and rugged dirt trails with frequent bouldery sections for the majority of the way down.
After about 2km into the descent, the trail turns super steep and technical with tight switchbacks and exposed sections with high consequence.
The rest of the descent alternates between open, alpine traverse and tricky, technical sections.
This trail is, therefore, not recommended for beginners or those anxious with exposure.
Body protection is essential. The trail eventually weaves its way to below the tree line and continues in a similar vein, delivering bags of fun and technical challenge. At the end of trail, with a huge smile on your face and your bike still tingling with delight, you'll reach Beaupraz village.
Take the road to Peisey for the Lonzagne lift and return to Arc 1800 for another go! The Bike Park lifts are only open mid-summer, but it is possible to ride this out of season by using a combination of vehicle uplift and riding. Lift Prices: https://en.lesarcs.com/prices.html Lift Info: https://en.lesarcs.com/timetables.html