The MTB guide to La Thuile, Italy – a tranquil setting for some serious enduro action

Two riders in a meadow with mountain backdrop
(Image credit:

La Thuile is a border town in the north-east of Italy and is part of the Aosta Valley, which includes lots of lift-assisted riding spots such as Pila, Breuil-Cervinia, Courmayeur, and Monterosa. The village itself has been around since the 10th century when the Romans first built a road to cross the mountains to link Rome to its northern capital of Lyon. Up until the Second World War the area had many mines, but as the industry started to slow down, the locals needed to find another means of income. The first ski lift was opened in 1948, and the area has since been a very popular winter sports destination and a summer high-altitude training resort for tennis stars and out-of-season soccer teams.

The area above La Thuile that you can access via the lift network is vast, as the resort is part of the Espace San Bernardo international ski area, which covers over 3,000 hectares all the way over to the neighboring French town of La Rosière. There has always been a huge array of walking paths and fire roads crisscrossing this area for those who like a physical challenge, but post Covid-19 there has been a big investment in opening up the trails to more people by improving access, signage, and even installing e-bike charging points along the routes.

The bike world covers a large area with over 220km of trails spread across the mountain, and the bike park has 72km with a combined total of over 8,000m of descending, with ski lifts going all the way up to 2,600 meters above sea level. 

Rider in an Alpine meadow with mountain backdrop

The upper slopes are a more mellow gradient through Alpine meadows (Image credit:

The terrain has two distinct characteristics. The upper section down to 1,900m is an open, almost lunar-like landscape with mellow gradients, patches of Alpine meadow, and natural cotton fields with incredible views of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe at 4,810m. From 1,900m down to 1,400m, it's covered in a pine forest and much steeper gradients. The soil is much loamier, almost hero dirt with a fine covering of pine needles, with lots more roots, rocks, and off-camber sections. Whether it's due to low trail traffic, the natural ground conditions, or the work of the local trail team, the lack of braking bumps here that often plague the more popular big park destinations is very unusual and a definite plus point.

Mountain biker on wooded trail

The lower wooded slopes are home to steep tight trails (Image credit:

The riding

The Enduro World Series (now EDR) first visited La Thuile in 2014 and has since hosted the series four times and many Italian national enduro events. This has led to the development of a top network of trails that mix man-made sustainability with a natural feel, and will test the skill, bravery and stamina of any rider. 

The bike park has 14 designated runs – two blue, six red, and six black – but there are plenty of other natural trails to check out too. The high number of red and black runs compared to blue is a good indication of the riding on offer here. If your idea of a bike park is an oversized BMX track with lots of big jumps and berms, then this probably isn't for you, but if you love long, steep, technical natural singletrack, then this place really is incredible.

Crowd cheering on a rider on a track in an enduro race

The trails of La Thuile are a regular venue for EDR and Italian national enduro races (Image credit:

Bike choice

Given the resort's EDR racing credentials, an enduro race bike here makes perfect sense, and something like the Hope HB 916 enduro bike would be perfect. Its progressive geometry and calm riding characteristics, combined with its mid-high pivot suspension layout, make it ideal for smashing out black runs for as long as your arms can take it, but it is still nimble enough to change line choice and throw around the tight steep Alpine switchbacks La Thuile is littered with.

Mountain biker on wooded trail

No braking bumps to be found here (Image credit:

Kit essentials

Obviously, the kit you take with you depends on the kind of riding you plan to do, but as well as standard riding gear (jerseys, gloves, shoes, etc), we recommend the below so you're covered for all eventualities.

  • Enduro helmet: Ideally full-face or convertible with good ventilation
  • Protection: Knee pads and elbow pads minimum. Consider body armor too
  • Tough tires: High grip, reinforced sidewall options, like Schwalbe's Magic Mary Super trail
  • Backpack: Full size hydration pack for big days out. Look at bags with additional spinal protection features
  • Eyewear: Lightly tinted goggles or sunglasses. The difference in light between open meadow and dappled woods can be difficult to manage in La Thuile
  • Suncream: Sweat resistant SPF50
  • Nutrition: High calorie bars and gels or some panini from the many local bakeries
  • Repair and maintenance: MTB multi-tool, tire plug kit, spare inner tubes, spare brake pads, and brake fluid. It's worth going up a brake rotor size, too, if possible

Mountain biker on wooded track

If you like your trails steep and gnarly, La Thuile should definitely be on your list of places to go (Image credit:

Must-ride trail

For a real test of rider and bike, you should check out the Cambogia trail. It's the longest of the black-graded trails at 3.1km with an altitude drop of 718m. It starts high up at 2,231m with fast rocky singletrack that traverses the Alpine meadows. Once it enters the woods, its character changes with off-camber sections joined up with steep corners and lots of drops, big rocks, and roots to deal with all the way back down to the lift station. Like many of the trails here, it has a more natural feel than a traditional bike park, and the grippy loamy surface is perfect for pushing your limits.

Close up of plate of meats

The local cuisine is classic Alpine, the speciality being a cured sausage called Boudin (Image credit:

Sleeping and eating

Being a winter sports destination, there's plenty of accommodation available. Most are traditional ski chalet setups with well-priced full board and bed and breakfast options. Most have secure bike storage, as well as bike cleaning facilities throughout the summer months. It's worth noting that the cost of food and accommodation is often lower in Italian resorts than in similar French and Swiss destinations.

The cuisine has a distinct mountain feel, making the most of the sometimes limited food options available but made with an Italian flair. The local favorite is Boudin, which is a cured sausage made with boiled potatoes, lardo, beetroot, herbs, and spices cooked in wine and served as part of a charcuterie or selection of cured and pickled meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Those with a sweet tooth should check out the cafés and pastry shops in the town square. La Tometta is a cake designed to look like a local cheese but is made of chocolate, praline, and local hazelnuts. It is specific to the area and even has its own patent.

Adult and child rider in meadow with mountain backdrop

There's plenty to explore outside of the bike park too, all with an incredible backdrop (Image credit:

Off-the-bike activities

The views in this part of the Aosta Valley are incredible and can be best experienced on a mountain hike. There's plenty to see when you're not flying down the trails, such as the walk up to the Rutor glacier, which extends for 8.5km and leads down to the majestic Rutor waterfalls, which are some of the tallest in the Alps. The Baraccamenti Belle Combe – Rifugio Deffeyes trek is one of the highlights. It's a testing walk up that passes a blue glacial lake known locally as Lac des Seracs and offers some incredible vistas along the way.

The area's rich history can easily be explored, too, whether that's checking out the early settlements on the Petit St Bernard pass that has been inhabited by Celts, the Salassi and Romans, or walking through the high altitude trenches and fortifications built during the world wars.

Getting there and prices

La Thuile is one hour and 40 minutes from Turin, and two hours from Milan, which both have an international airport. Transfers from both airports are available, as well as an innovative car share setup where you can grab a lift from a local traveling to or from the village. There isn't a train station in La Thuile, but there is one in the nearby town of Aosta, with plenty of bus services to the resort from there. 

For those of you with a camper van, there are plenty of places to stay around the valley, and the main car park below the lift station has an electric hook-up and chemical toilet disposal areas. The local park is a great setup for families staying there, with toilet facilities and several permanent BBQ setups with seating, which makes it perfect for some summertime alfresco dining down by the river.

The bike park is open from June 24 until September 3 (although with ever warmer summers and less frequent snow, resorts have been open later than in recent years), with lift passes costing £28 / €33 for a day pass.

For more information, check out And if you're interested in other Italian summer riding spots, check out our MTB guide to Livigno.

Neal Hunt
Freelance Writer

Neal has been riding bikes of all persuasions for over 20 years and has had a go at racing most of them to a pretty average level across the board. From town center criteriums to the Megavalanche and pretty much everything in between. Neal has worked in the bicycle industry his entire working life, from starting out as a Saturday lad at the local bike shop to working for global brands in a variety of roles; he has built an in-depth knowledge and love of all things tech. Based in Sheffield, UK, he can be found riding the incredible local trails on a wide variety of bikes whenever he can