BIG-5 in Saalbach
You will probably not come across another bike adventure like the BIG-5 bike challenge. It is so unique and without comparison, which is probably one of the reasons why it´s on top of many bike enthusiasts´ to do lists. This adventurous bike tour connects Saalbach Hinterglemm and Leogang across five mountains with five gondolas. On each mountain you will find exciting trails, which gives you the maximum biking pleasure. When you decide to go for the BIG-5 bike challenge, you will experience the best bike trails in the region within just a single day.
We challenged BIG-5
Read our personal experience...
The legs are just about to give up and even though it goes down hill the last kilometer towards Saalbach, it is difficult to stand up in the pedals. We have been on the bike for 63 km and managed to overcome 5000 meters in altitude and even though we have "cheated" and taken the lift for the 3500 of the 5000 altitude meters we have spent many hours in the saddle, driving in terrain where you really need to concentrate and managed some hefty climbs. All in all, it has been one of the best days as a mountain biker...
We arrived in Saalbach two days earlier in the evening and our plan was to bike already the first day. But a cold front with rain showed up over the charming valley and gave its wet contribution to keeping the mountains green and moist. It cleared up in the afternoon, so we went on a biking tour up to the mountain towards Leogang and back again on the Milka downhill trail. 915 altitude meters up hill on only 9 km could be felt the following day. We found that shortly after the rain, the down hills were very good and not particularly wet.
The next day the weather was good. 20 degrees fresh mountain air and a blue sky over the green valley. We started our BIG-5 tour in Hinterglemm. We decided to start in Hinterglemm because the girls of the family wanted to go hiking and we could go together with the first lift, Zwölfkoglerbahn.
500 altitude meters further up we said goodbye to the girls and were ready for our first downhill, Z-line. With a little nervousness and a lot of great expectations, we let the tires roll down the red track, with one finger on each brake, ready to stop if we suddenly would panic.
Z-line is the only red track (all others are blue) on the BIG-5 and it might not have been such a good idea to start on it, but it exceeded all our expectations. We quickly got up in speed, began to do some jumps and drive high in the many berms. When it got too big, there was always a B- or a chicken line you could choose. After a successful first downhill tour a big smile was showing on our faces.
After a short tour through Hinterglemm, we were ready at the next lift, Reiterkogel. After a short ride with the lift, you’ll be on top of the cool flow track, Blue Line. Here your self-confidence will be pumped to the max and you drive with high speed through berms, over small rollers and jumps.
When the cool downhill is over, BIG-5 changes character a little bit. You drive up through Saalbach and find the Kohlmais lift, which takes you all the way to the top. Up here the tougher challenges begin. You must follow a trail on the mountainside towards the Leogang area. The day after a heavy rain fall, the soil is wet and many greasy roots. It is a challenge that gives you a lot of hard work and you can really be pressured on the balance.
Before reaching the top of Asitzbahn, you will also enjoy a nice natural downhill drive with a subsequent ascent. When you reach the top, you face Leogang’s impressive bike park. Here the pro's are driving each year for the World Cup in Down Hill. The course is not for kids and will cause most to shake a bit in their pants. Fortunately, there are also some amazing flowtracks in the park. We chose the recommended, Hot Shots and Hang Man. It was again really awesome and with 900 altitude meters down in one part, you’ll start to feel the fatigue in arms and legs.
After taking the lift up again, we chose an alternative route up over the top of Kleiner Asitz. It was a crazy ascent, which nevertheless was surpassed on the subsequent trip over Grosser Asitz. Before we went back to Saalbach, we had lunch at Seidl Alm. Great memories passed our minds from the ski holiday, where we also made a stop here for lunch. Although the temperature was a bit higher, the meal was equally needed since the body was just as worn from biking as it was from skiing.
With renewed energy, the trip went back along the mountain crest. To drive the last bit down to town, we drove Milka again. It is a great descent, which can be driven on a hardtail, but on a powerful fully you can drive at a significantly higher pace. If you choose to "patch it" one day, you can really move your limits and get some cool trips.
At the bottom of Milka, you drive directly into the cozy center of Saalbach. Before continuing to the Schattberg lifts, you can have a coffee at one of the cozy cafes in town or save it until you finish the round.
The Schattberg lift takes you 1.000 meters up to the Schattberg Ostgipfel. From here, the black X Line returns to the city. It is not part of the BIG-5, but can be driven another day after you have become acquainted with the descents.
To follow BIG-5, you have to go to Westgipfel. Here you are really put to the test. The ascent is wild and alongside it you can see full-grown, strong men pull their potent mountain bikes. When you, like we did, start in Hinterglemm, it will be the last ride and with a lot of miles and tired legs it was extremely hard. But once again you are rewarded in the best way. From the top of Westgipfel, the legendary downhill Hacklberg Trail begins.
With a length of 8 km and more than 1000 altitude meters, it is a worthy end to a big mtb adventure. And although we could hardly keep it together for the last km down towards Hinterglemm, there was a huge smile on our faces.
When we reached the finish line down in Hinterglemm we were reunited with the girls who thought it was now in place with other activities such as water parks, miniature golf and shopping. After a long discussion and use of all possible persuasion techniques, we managed to convince them that it was a good idea with an afternoon at the hotel with our legs up, eyes closed and big smiles.