One of the milestones that most mountain bikers want to achieve (at least) once in their lives is an Alpine crossing. Many of the most popular routes lead from the southernmost point of Germany Oberstdorf to Lake Garda in Italy. One of them is the Joe route, a challenging classic with many meters of altitude.
The original route contains over 45,931 feet (14,000 meters) of elevation gain across 260 sweaty miles (420 km) in seven stages. This is no small feat, even for experienced bikers. As some sections are at such a high altitude, the route can only be ridden in the summer between July and September. Part of the route also leads through high alpine Switzerland.
On the Joe Route, an epic adventure awaits: you will not only be taken to the edge of your physical abilities, but you will also be overwhelmed with endorphins when you finish a tough ascent, gaze up the region's wild beauty or when you finally see Lake Garda glistening in the distance after days in the saddle.
Completing a Transalp is no small thing, so come prepared. First of all, you need a good fitness level. You have to cycle up and down over 6,561 feet (2,000 meters) of altitude several days in a row. The high alpine single trails and steep forest roads will also test your technical ability.
You should also be able to carry your bike and bags over longer distances as you may have to hike-a-bike at times. Therefore, an E-MTB will not necessarily make this route easier, on the contrary: they are heavier and it is harder to repair them if something breaks.
It is also worth investing in light functional clothing, a hut sleeping bag and a decent pair of cycling shoes. The hunt for basics like a microfiber towel, an ultra light water bottle or a water bladder and the perfect backpack will keep you busy for a few weeks.
Also essential: cement the rough route in your head. We have already prepared the Joe route for you in this collection, but make sure you take a detailed look at it first. The stages are demanding, but feasible. If this is your first Alpine crossing, plan a few extra days if the weather, your physical condition or your bike don't play along. It is also essential to find out where you have to book accommodation in advance so that you have a safe and comfortable place to sleep.
The Joe route starts in Oberstdorf which you can easily reach by train from Munich. We recommend that you plan your journey by public transport, otherwise you would have to return to Oberstdorf when you finish your adventure. You can easily get home by train from Lake Garda as the area has excellent tourist infrastructure. You can book your train online on the Trenitalia website. And now enough of the long preface – have fun riding!
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: February 9, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
On the first part of the Joe Route, you first drive through the Allgäu Alps and cross the first national border of your Alpine Cross to Austria on the Schrofen Pass. Although this first stage is one of the moderately moderate of this Transalp route, it still demands a lot from you technically. To get…
The second leg of the Joe route begins with a hefty climb up the Kristbergsattel. After that, you are warm right away, awake and have already been able to enjoy the first beautiful panoramic views. There will be more than enough of them today: the Fellimannle Street stretches 17 kilometers through pure…
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What saved you the second leg of the Joe route in altitude, you get served for today. With 2700 vertical meters and 67 kilometers, the stage from Zeinisjoch to Schlinig is the hardest. Nobody will blame you if you want to take a rest day after this stage.
First, there is a beautiful descent to Ischgl…
The fourth leg of the Joe route seems almost restful compared to the third. Just 1500 meters of altitude difference and only 42 kilometers of track will be tackled today - almost for the last time, breath-taking in front of the overwhelming Stelvio Pass, which is scheduled for the fifth stage.
On the fifth leg of the Joe Route, one of the absolute highlights awaits you: the Stelvio Pass with its 42 switchbacks that take you to dizzying heights while revealing an epic panorama. 1300 vertical meters in a row, the first thing you should expect in the morning is enough snacks and water (and maybe…
From the sixth leg of the Joe route, it's finally more downhill than uphill. The approaching end of Lake Garda is almost tangible, not least because you've been in Italy's destination country since yesterday.
So that you do not get out of step, it goes from Santa Caterina first uphill again on the Gavia…
The seventh leg of the Joe Route is the grand finale of your Transalp from Oberstdorf to Lake Garda. The vertical meters fall below 2000, the depth meters reach even 2500th For this you can shoot your last grains on 75 kilometers and enjoy while the ever more Mediterranean air and landscape.
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