Tips for mountain biking at Vallnord bike park in Andorra
Up until recent, I had not heard of this small country of Andorra, which is located in the Pyrenees alps, a mountainous region between France and Spain. However my amazing wife organized a mountain biking birthday trip and scheduled some time to hang out in Andorra.
Andorra is a country almost master planned to be a collection of ski/hiking/biking towns since the one thing they are in abundance of are huge mountains (11,000ft territory). Quite a unique place with breathtaking views.
Vallnord vs. Pal Arinsal vs. La Massana
Took me awhile to understand the relationship here.
- Vallnord is the bike park, it is located in an area called Pal Arinsal
- You can get to Vallnord by taking a Gondola from the near by town of La Massana, or driving directly to Vallnord
- I drove to La Massana and took the Gondola up – but in retrospect, driving there is the way to go because there’s free parking and a bike rental place right at the Vallnord village (prior to that it was very unclear what the parking and rental situation was so I played it safe)
Approach 1 – La Massana
La Massana is a very tiny ski resort town where the Gondola station goes right into the town center, and then you take the Gondola and your bike up to Vallnord.
- There’s a parking garage right beside the Gondola/ticket station, and a short walk to the Commencal bike rental place
- Now that you’ve parked, walk out and above the parking garage is the ticket center
- The ticket center is across the road from the Gondola which sells the lift passes, but I found out after you can also get the passes inside the Gondola station as well
- Now that you have your lift pass, time to get your bike
- Commencal is the easiest option I could find
- Commencal is HQ’d in Andorra and a huge sponsor of Vallnord, so they’re really the main game in town
- They have a location right beside the Gondola, as well as another location at the Vallnord bike park village
- There’s Single Track Safari as well – but they rent out Commencal’s as well, so might as well just go straight to the source
- I went with the La Massana option – in either case you can reserve your bike here, which is quick and easy. Select the “Commencal Shop La Massana” option
Take the Gondola
- After you’ve got your bike, push your bike up ramp on the stairs, and the Gondola will take you directly to the park
Approach 2 – Park at Vallnord
- Vallnord has a huge parking lot – it’s an extra 30 minutes from La Massana, but it’s free
- There’s a ticket booth at the Vallnord village, making it easy to get a lift pass
- Right at the village is another Commencal bike rental place – so when reserving your bike online, select the “Commencal Shop Pal” (they should rename it to Commencal Shop Vallnord to be more obvious)
Note – one minor drawback of this approach is you wouldn’t do the one run that goes all the way down to the town of La Massana as your final run; which is a fun and challenging ride. Can certainly do that at any time, but you’re taking the Gondola back up to get to your car.
- Here’s a high resolution PDF map
- There are a few greens, and many blues
- The blues (intermediate) are what I would call borderline blacks at a Whistler/Northstar – they have large jumps, sudden significant drops (sometimes blind), and the terrain is like riding on broken porcelain tiles (technical with low traction)
- I didn’t try the greens, but my take is this isn’t an ideal place for a beginner
- Now if you’re intermediate and especially an advanced rider, there are a lot of interesting options for you!
At 10am, I didn’t see anyone riding, and what seemed like the only place to go was roped off, so wasn’t sure where to start. By 10:30am it opened up, and it starts here:
- It was hot and dry when I was there, and about 85F in town
- However because Vallnord is at such a high elevation, the temp was much cooler (high 60s/low 70s)
Food and Water
- There isn’t really free water – however at the upper level where the kids pump track is, there’s a crepe booth and they have free water. I think it’s meant for paying customers, but I grabbed some water anyways (Europe I’ve found in general is unusually invested in single use water bottles, which I try to minimize – for example most restaurants have no idea what I’m talking about when I ask for just tap water)
- Recommendation: Bring a hydration pack with your own water
- There is a fast food booth
- Vallnord does a really good job at providing other activities for little kids – they had a whole bouncy house thing going on, the Fire Dept was there teaching kids about firefighters, and other kids activities. They actually have an onsite day care as well.
- Rock climbing
Hope that helps!