New article about our hike along the Jura crest trail! This summer we decided to share with you our favourite sections of this great hike through Switzerland. The idea being that we are well aware that many people don’t want to take 2 weeks to complete the route in one go but would like to go on nice day or weekend trips. 😉 Today we are going to take an interest in a part of Switzerland that we didn’t know at all before we came here for the first time a few weeks ago: The Chasseral and the upper part of the city of Biel with the Taubenloch Gorge.
Info page on the Jura crests trail
Taubenloch Gorge – scenic detour on the Jura crest trail
These gorges will probably have been the nicest “surprise” of our itinerary. In fact I use the word surprise deliberately because before we left we had done some research on the path of the Jura ridges but we didn’t necessarily pay attention to what was around. The Taubenloch gorges are not on the official route and that’s why we hadn’t even really considered them 😉
Why did you visit them, you may ask? So I reassure you, it is not by pure masochism that we added this “detour” of 3km to our hike which was already more than 300km long, but simply because when we arrived in Frinvillier our food reserves were getting low and we absolutely had to buy groceries. On the official route of the Via Jura there are very few supermarkets and it is therefore almost obligatory to make a few detours from time to time to stock up on food. Rather than going down by train or bus to Biel we took the opportunity to visit these beautiful gorges which arrive straight in the city of Biel (and to a supermarket ;)).
The walk is really very easy and it doesn’t make much difference to do it “uphill” or “downhill” (there is less than 100m of difference in altitude, so for 3km in any direction it’s really very very accessible). During the whole hike we walk in the impressive gorges dug by the Suze (yes yes, the Suze being here the name of the river and not the famous aperitif appreciated by the old people and the Valaisans like Benoit 😉 )
Map of the walk in the Taubenloch Gorge + Infos
We reassure ourselves right away, the path is VERY obvious and since we are in a gorge it is absolutely impossible to make a mistake 😉 But hey, so that you can realize how far and where it is in the city of Biel, we give you the map anyway:
- The hike can be done without worry in both directions.
- If you do not wish to make the return journey, it is possible to take a train or bus to or from Frinvillier (departure from Biel/Bienne station).
- Access to the gorge is free
- The path is VERY easy and is perfect for families (there is a picnic area in the middle).
- Distance: about 3km one way if you go to Frinvillier station (6km round trip)
- Duration of the walk: Count 45 minutes to 1 hour by taking your time.
Frinvillier and the improbable Hotel de la truite
After our little excursion to Biel for shopping we went back up to Frinvillier for a good shower. We rarely talk about accommodation on our blog but I think the Hotel de la Truite deserved a paragraph or two. 🙂
We really needed a shower and to do a little laundry and knowing that it would be complicated to bivouac in Frinvillier we made a search for accommodation the day before. The conclusion was quickly clear: in Frinvillier there is the Hotel de la truite and that’s it! Reading the online reviews I admit that we were a bit scared and hesitated to go to sleep in Biel… With an average rating of 2.5 on tripadvisor and on Google we didn’t know what to expect.
Well, I’ll tell you one thing, this hotel will probably go down in the annals. From the outside the building does indeed look almost abandoned, the “restaurant” looks more like a storage room and it is clear that there hasn’t been a meal served here for a long time… Not especially reassured by the outside we knocked on the door. We were greeted by the absolutely adorable owner! From what we saw she seems to be the only one to manage the place and yes, the building and the restaurant clearly need a facelift… But on the other hand the rooms were impeccably clean, the beds comfortable and the shower very hot! So if you are looking for a romantic destination for the weekend you might skip this one but if like us you are hikers looking for a good bed and a shower don’t be scared by the reviews. 😉 (by the way, I’ve given them 4* on tripadvisor to raise their average rating a bit). The night there cost us 104CHF for 2 people with breakfast. It’s still quite pricey but unfortunately when you go down to Biel it gets even more expensive
Hike from Frinvillier to Chasseral
The next morning, things start to get serious! While preparing our hike, we had noticed that this stage would be the one with the biggest difference in altitude: 1350m of climb to be precise. It’s not huge if you’re used to the Alps but let’s say that on the Jura ridge route it’s not bad… 😉
Leaving Frinvillier you barely have time to get out the hotel as you are already in the steep ascent. The first 500 meters of difference in altitude are done on the first 3 kilometers (the 800 remaining are spread over 15 km)! But I don’t know, I’ve always enjoyed steep climbs (especially at the beginning of the day). It has the merit of helping to get the machine started and above all it makes the rest of the program seem much more enjoyable 😉
After this first “rush” we start the gentle ascent through the pastures. The path is wide and the views are rather nice. As we get closer to the summit and the telecom antenna we see the view getting clearer and clearer. It’s funny because this antenna has almost become an attraction in itself but personally I still find it pretty ugly (sorry if this might offend some people 😉 ).
If we come to the Chasseral it is probably not to come and take a dose of radiation but to enjoy the incredible panorama. When the weather is clear you can see far away; from the Säntis to the Mont-Blanc through the black forest and the Vosges massif.
We sometimes hear that the Chasseral is the “summit of the Swiss Jura peaks” but in fact with its 1606.2 meters it is only the 4th highest point! The highest point is the Mont tendre (1679m) followed closely by the Dôle (1677m). The Chasseral is on the 4th step of the podium because the Chasseron is at 1606.6m, 40 centimetres higher (needless to say that there is sometimes a debate for the 3rd step of the podium ;).
Map of the Frinvillier – Le Chasseral stage+ Infos
The stage between Frinvillier and the Chasseral is about 18-21km (depending on where you sleep). To get to the top it takes a good 5 hours of walking. Technically speaking the stage is not difficult; the first part is undoubtedly the steepest but it is not exposed.
Restaurant du Chasseral and bivouac
Once we arrived at the Chasseral we took advantage of the view under the antenna and then we went towards the restaurant (which is also a hotel). At that moment we were not 100% decided if we wanted to sleep there or just have a coffee… The weather forecast was looking good and we knew that this was probably going to be our last nice evening for a while. The idea of making a bivouac was already in our minds. 😉
Once we got to the restaurant, we made up our minds. The Chasseral is a magnificent terrace with a superb panorama, but very sincerely it’s a bit it. It is not a “charming” mountain restaurant, if I may say so, but rather a self-service restaurant designed to serve a maximum of people. The prices are quite exorbitant and the welcome is far from the nice little inn. Maybe we were unlucky that day, but the price of the drinks and the toilets, which even the guests have to pay for, as well as the taps that prevent you from filling a bottle, turned us down.
Not especially inclined to spend the night there, we decide to continue a bit and find a place to put the tent. Beware however, in the region there are many wildlife protection areas and you can’t put your tent everywhere! We advise you to refer to the maps present on site as well as the official map of the protection zones available here.
For more information about the bivouac and the regulations in Switzerland we give you an appointment in our special bivouac blog post.
We had a wonderful evening with a beautiful sunset and even some chamois that came to visit us!
From Chasseral to Vue des Alpes
Leaving the Chasseral, the official path of the Jura ridges starts immediately on the right and plunges down towards the combe Biosse. Totally captivated by the ridge, we will confess that we took the wrong path but in the end we were delighted with this little “mistake”. The ridge path that goes down towards the Metairie de l’Isle is breathtaking and shortly before the farm you can turn right and return to the “official path” without any worries.
Once back on the path we arrive in a nature reserve called the combe Biosse. We fell in love with this coomb, which is more like an enchanted forest straight out of a fairy tale book than the image one might have of a Jura forest. 🙂 The nature reserve area is not huge (4km2) but it’s the kind of place where you can easily linger a bit!
After the coomb we reached the small village of Le Pâquier, where we secretly hoped to find a small terrace for a slice of pie and a coffee. Unfortunately the day of our passage all the farmhouses and inns had their doors closed… We also unfortunately missed the village fountain (we realized our mistake once we had passed the village).
Fortunately, a farm just before the ascent to Mont Amin offers water to passing walkers (with a small piggy bank if you feel like thanking them for the gesture). It’s silly, but these kind attentions are in the end quite rare… We were very surprised to see that on the route, many shelters or houses remove the taps from their water supply placed outside the building to prevent someone from using it. Of course it is up to the hiker to be careful and make sure to have water, but this point surprised us a little bit, not to say shocked us. I imagine that there have been abuses or fools who have left taps open … Who knows…
The climb to Mont Amin starts with a steep first section and then a gentle ridge leads us to the summit. The view is magnificent but unfortunately this point will also have been the place where we saw the thunderstorm arrive on us. Settled on a trunk for a picnic, we had a front row seat to see the black clouds coming down on us.
Not especially motivated to take a shower we shortened our break and set off for our hotelby walking as fast as we still could. Very tired, we didn’t manage to run (ok… especially me). We were supposed to have 1 kilometer left when the first drops arrived. At that time we still naively thought that we would arrive in time to avoid the shower. Spoiler alert: 300m from the hotel the light rain turned into a torrential downpour with even hail!!!! We finished the stage on the run and arrived soaked from head to toe at the hotel from the view of the Alps. Needless to say that that evening we enjoyed our little night in a warm and dry place even more!
The Hotel Vue des Alpes is an excellent address on the Jura crest trail! The food is very good and the rooms are very comfortable (we took the standard option with bathroom on the floor and it was perfect). The price of the night ranges from 46 CHF per person in dormitory, 110 CHF for a “standard” double room (the one we took) to 140 CHF for a comfort double room, breakfast included. We even decided tostay there for 2 nights to let the rain pass and rest a little.
Map of the Chasseral – View of the Alps stage + Infos
The stage between the Chasseral and Vue des Alpes is about 19km long with about 700m of ascent and 1000m down. Our favourites on this route were the ridge that leaves the Chasseral, the Biosse coomb and the view from the Mont Amin.
Hiking map from Chasseral to Vue des Alpes:
Via Jura: our videos
If you followed our adventures on Instagram this spring you probably didn’t miss our first big hike of the year: the Jura Crest trail. For those of you who haven’t seen our stories or who would like to see them again, we invite you to visit youtube where we have put all our Instagram stories online as well as a final video in a playlist. You can also watch them below:
Note: This article contains affiliate links to hotels. This means that if you go through our links to book your accommodation we will receive a small commission. All the linked accommodations are the ones we slept in during our hike. The whole trip was private and paid for by us.