IMBA Trail Solutions Project Manager Shane Wilson and Trail Specialist Mark McClure spent four days planning a new trail near Seelisberg, Switzerland.
Working in partnership with Allegra Tourismus, the Canton of Uri and local rider Tino Tramonti, they spent four days in the field assessing terrain and designing the route for a new trail between the villages of Seelisberg and Bauen.
The town of Seelisberg sits on a plateau surrounded by granite cliffs, on a peninsula high above Lake Lucerne. Apparently The Beatles hung out here in the 60's learning the techniques of transcendental meditation. Accessed by a dead end road or a tour boat and funicular railway the peaceful town still seems like a good place to get away from the “Helter Skelter” of urban life. The village is home to the Kaserei Seelisberg mountain cheese factory, where Shane and Mark enjoyed more than a little of the amazing fresh and aged cheeses that are made there daily. It is definitely not to be missed!
The planned route bypasses a steep historic trail that leads from Seelisberg to Bauen. The existing trail linking the two villages has 916 steps, which make the current route impossible to climb and unsafe for mountain bikers.
The location of the picturesque village of Bauen benefits from the warm winds, called föhn, which come over the Alps from Italy. This warm air gives the town a unique microclimate, and results in palm trees and other exotic plants contrasting between the traditional Swiss buildings perched along the lakeshore.
Steep slopes covered in dense forest and farmland surround both Bauen and Seelisberg. The palate of fall colors in the forest mixed with the lush green grass of the fields and blue-grey stone cliffs created a stunning environment to work in. The beautiful forests also contained a number of surprises, namely hordes of blood hungry mosquitoes and a coiled snake, which hissed and struck at the team as they worked their way through the terrain.
After understanding the lay of the land and marking a number of control points the Trail Solutions team used clinometers to assess the grade of the hill slopes. A concept plan was drawn up, linking the control points. The next step was to mark the new route on the ground with pin flags. This corridor was then recorded using handheld GPS devices. A trail specification report and map were produced which will provide the community with the information they need to construct the new trail next spring.
The start of the new trail will be near the 'Captains Well', a natural spring which trickles from the hillside at the edge of the current trail. The captain of one of the boats, which travel Lake Lucerne, placed a pewter tankard at the site, where a brass plaque invites weary trail users to take a drink from the cup. After passing the Captains Well riders drop into forest, passing mature broad leaf trees as they traverse the slope.
The new trail will descend on a more moderate grade than the old trail and should be much more fun yet still very challenging for mountain bikers. The trail twists and turns through the forest, turning back and forth as it crosses open fields, before descending further into the valley. The contour route reveals epic views across Lake Lucerne as it drops to cross a bridge and down on to the road to Bauen. A brief paved road pedal leads riders into the heart of Bauen where apfelstrudel and beer awaits.
To find out more about planning and designing new trails in your area contact IMBA Trail Solutions shane [dot] wilson [at] imba [dot] com