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MTB – The Suvretta Loop and down the Bernina Pass

    MTB Suvretta loop

    Photo: Munt de San Murezzan.

    I did this as a day trip from Samedan whilst spending two weeks in the area. I had just planned to do the Suvretta Loop, but arriving in Bever in the early afternoon just before a train towards Pontresina I decided to head up to the Bernina Pass and ride back down.

    Key Information

    Route 1: MTB route 671 loop. Samedan – Celerina – Marguns – Pass Suvretta – Alp Suvretta – Bever.

    Length 1: 32km, +1150m, -1150m.

    Route 2: A section of MTB route 1. Ospizio Bernina – Pontresina – Samedan.

    Length 2: 24km, +250m, -800m.

    Date: 2021-August-11

    Route 1
    Route 2

    Practical Information

    Season: Summer – Autumn

    Arrival/Departure: Train to/from Samedan or Cerelina. Train to Ospizio Bernina and then trains again from Samedan.

    Supplies: There are numerous restaurants along the routes.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: For the Suvretta loop you can skip most of the climb with the funicular up to Corviglia. For the descent from the Bernina pass there are multiple train stations if you need to bail out early.

    Exposure/Hazards: There is pretty much zero shade on the route so be prepared to deal with the sun.

    Technical: Both routes are fairly moderate in difficulty going downhill. There is not much that is technically demanding or steep (other than a few short sections coming down from the Suvretta pass), mostly it is just a bit bumpy.

    The Suvretta Loop was fairly quiet, but thanks to the trains going up the pass there were a much larger number of riders and hikers on the Bernina Pass.

    Notes along the route

    Part 1: The Suvretta Loop.

    The Suvretta Loop is seemingly held as a classic/in high regard by a number of people, but it doesn’t seem to be that well known. There were certainly a number of other bikers going up or down on it, but they were very spread out and it certainly seemed very quiet given the ease of access with cable cars from a popular tourist resort.

    I started with a gentle ride alongside the Inn from Samedan to Celerina then straight up for 1000m to the cable car station at Munt da San Murezzan (you could also take the Corviglia funicular which would cut off the first 800m, or all the way up to Piz Nair and drop down the steeper path to the Suvretta Pass from there).

    Along the Inn to Celerina.
    Climbing up to Marguns.

    The whole climb was wide and (mostly) not too steep gravel road. The ride was a little confusing at times as I had my GPS setup with the latest data from the Switzerland Mobility map (not that I was in any danger of getting lost), but the signs on the route itself have been updated to a new path (seemingly a nicer climb). This wasn’t the first time this summer that I found a discrepancy between the online routes and the situation on the ground.

    At 2682m this was my highest point on a bike yet. There are not many chances to get higher on the official mountain bike routes.

    Above Corviglia.
    Highest point at Munt de San Murezzan.

    The change to single trail was initially very smooth for a hundred meters or so, then quite rocky (but stable) for a few hundred meters until the path smoothed out heading for the pass.

    The Suvretta Pass is a beautiful spot with a few little lakes and a glacier above you. Going from the Suvretta Pass down to Alp Suvretta a few of the switchbacks were a bit steep, tight and rocky for my liking (especially in the last section as you drop into the Val Bever). But mostly the descent was fairly gentle/flowy with just a few rocky sections to worry about. There were a handful of hikers but not many, which is hardly surprising given the length of the route required to pass up the valley. Mountain bikers going up and down were the main traffic.

    Lakes at the Suvretta Pass.
    The descent down from the Suvretta Pass.

    As you join the valley floor in Val Bever you pass Alp Suvretta; a little Alp farmhouse selling a few basic bits of food and drink. It is barely even marked on the maps as a building, and there are only a few handwritten signs to invite you to pop by. I stopped for a drink and some food and it quickly became my favourite place on the whole trip. It was a wonderfully relaxed, remote, and beautiful spot. I spent 1.5 hours just sitting there and slowly eating/drinking. I was invited to keep sitting for longer after finishing and paying, but would have fallen asleep in my deckchair if I stayed any longer (and I wouldn’t have been the only one).

    Alp Suvretta
    Alp Suvretta

    An easy flowey ride down the absurdly beautiful Val Bever. Arrived in Bever (tiny but with a beautiful old town) with perfect timing to fill up my water and take the train to Bernina pass.

    Down the Val Bever.
    Down the Val Bever.

    Part 2: MTB route from Ospizio Bernina to Samedan

    Took the train up the pass, got off, and turned around to ride back down. Really good fun. Flying down the pass with the red RB train just about keeping pace with you especially is pure fun.

    A few rocky bits (like the start out of the station), but otherwise not much to worry about. There are optional diversions where the path splits and you can follow some short flow trails for MTBs. The last steeper bit of descent to Morteratsch is properly prepared flow trails with berms and everything, something which is quite rare on the Switzerland Mobility mountain bike routes which normally just point you down a rocky footpath.

    Getting off the train at Ospizio Bernina.
    Riding across the Bernina pass.

    After Morteratsch it is basically flat riding along the valley. Beautiful but less interesting than the initial descent.

    Much of the MTB route is shared with the standard footpath, at times it is wide, at others very narrow. This seemed to be causing a bit of a problem with some of the hikers clearly getting annoyed at having yet another bike go past. I had hoped that being mid/late afternoon not many people would be around still (and it mostly was fairly quiet), but trains disgorging mountain bikers at the pass who then spread out at different speeds clearly created quite an annoyance for some of the hikers who voiced their opinion of having yet another bike fly by. This is the only time I have had an issue with hikers whilst on a bike in Switzerland.

    Racing the train.
    Waterfalls by Morteratsch.

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