Jura mountains in Switzerland is a little sister of Swiss Alps, they are much lower than the high peaks of Switzerland, but it is crazy that Switzerland being so small, has not one, but two mountain ranges. And not many people know about the second one called Jura.
They are right on the border of Switzerland and France, so there’s stuff to do on the French side as well, but let’s explore what can we do on the Swiss side.
Jura mountains in Switzerland are perfect to hike and visit in early Spring and late Autumn as it’s not that snowed in and it’s easier to hike, although snow shows may be useful in some hikes. I needed, although I didn’t have that time, then I was hiking to Le Soliat. Winter is as well possible, but if you plan to get higher than 1000 meters, snow shoes are almost 100 percent necessary. Even lower snow shoes can be helpful.
In this article I would like to explore couple of opportunities to hike and couple of hidden places I have found in this not very well known Swiss part 🙂 Here we go to Jura mountains in Switzerland!
Hiking Le Soliat
Le Soliat is a pretty popular destination as it has this huge open rocks which you can see from far away and if you are on the top: you can come pretty close to the ridge. I took a picture here when I was on the top, on the right side, just the sun did an unfriendly lightning here, but actually the rock looks pretty massive.
Ok, so to hike to Le Soliat in Jura mountains you will need to get to Noiraigue or Fauconnières, but I did my hike from Noiraigue. That’s a pretty small village where you can park your car. I parked then for free there in the middle of the village, but just in case, have at least 5 CHF cash if the parking is now paid.
The hike starts right in the village and you just have to keep the direction Le Soliat. The hike will take you around 2 hours and you will have to gain around 700 meters. So not little, not much. The hike is pretty steep in the beginning, but once you cross the farm on the way (with many chickens, pigs and so on), you will get into the forest and the hike gets serpantiny and this is where I hope I had snowshoes. It was a bit snowed in and quite icy. I was there in early Spring and it sometimes gets positive temperature in day time, so it melts, and at night freezes again. I can say that that part was pretty unpleasant, very slippery and quite dangerous. I lost my glasses on one slope and it dropped into the bushes below me. So if you have some kind of snowshoes or grip for your hiking shoes, take it.
On the top I met people only with snowshoes, I was the only one with them, I underestimated the cleanliness of the hiking route. If you want to hike in Jura mountains in Switzerland in winter, always have snowshoes just in case in your bag.
On the top opens up all the valley, the rocks, it’s like a small canyon. Looks really majestic. If you want to spend more time on the top, you can visit the restaurant which is there: Restaurant Le Soliat.
Afterwards, the hike down is much easier and faster. Just, to repeat once again, take good shoes as going down it can get even more slippery 🙂
The whole hike should take you around 3 hours.
Chasseral is on of the highest peaks in Jura mountains, but the highest one is in France, it is called: Crêt de la Neige. But this time we explore the Swiss part of Jura mountains.
Chasseral is at 1607 meters, Crêt de la Neige is at 1720 meters, so difference is not that big. It would take extra 20 minutes to hike that 100 meters to Crêt de la Neige 🙂
You can reach Chasseral by car or you can hike it. When I was visiting Chasseral, I left the car a little below (maybe at 1500 m) and hiked the last stretch, but I did it by mistake, I didn’t know that there’s a parking lot right next to the peak, next to Chasseral hotel. You can check out this place if you would like to spend the night there: Chasseral hotel. There’s even electric car charger there now! So you can easily go there with your Tesla, Nissan Leaf or Huyndai Kona if you wish 🙂 Everyone’s welcome to get some juice.
If you would like to hike up there, you can easily start in St-Imier city or rather in Parc, Domaine skiable les Bugnenets-Savagnières – it is a higher place, already higher up and has a huge parking lot, you will not need to leave your car in the city. The hike goes straight to the forest and after couple of kilometers you will get to see the whole valley and Chasseral on the top with it’s huge radio tower, it’s really massive.
Once I was there, on the last stretch, like 100 meters to the radio tower, all the path was full of cows. They simply rest and eat there. It was impossible not to go through them, so if you are afraid of cows, not a good place to be 🙂 But usually Swiss cows are very friendly and nothing should happen to you. They are just irritated if they have small calves, but usually signs warn you that cows have them at particular time and just be aware not to go close to them. A lot of hiking routes in Switzerland go straight through pastures and you meet cows in their home 🙂
The views from the peaks in Jura mountains are very different than in the Alps. The Alps are much higher and mostly other mountain in a way blocks the views further, but in Jura mountains it seems that you can see like 50-100 km in the front. I am not sure about real numbers, but from Chasseral you can see a lot around you. Far far away!
This is a small city in the Jura mountains in Switzerland which I was really surprised to uncover. You will feel there like in medieval times. It almost looks like the city was not interrupted the last couple of centuries.
This village is almost blended into the forest and mountains around it.
There’s a legend that it was built by an Irish monk at 8th century, so even the history of the village is straight from the medieval novel.
What can you do in Saint Ursanne? Simply stroll around the village, get to know it’s history, don’t miss the chapel and other historical sites, the hermitage, the 18th century bridge. Visit a restaurant, have a cozy dinner, hike in the surrounding forests, have a look at the village from the top 🙂 Enjoy this small medieval village in Jura mountains.
You can not go to Jura mountains and not visit the highest peak (on the Swiss side) of the whole region. The highest peak in Switzerland is called Mont Tendre and it is at 1679 meters. It is the highest peak in Switzerland outside the Swiss Alps. It is in the canton of Vaud and is the most isolated peak in that canton.
If you want to get as close as possible to Mont Tendre by car: you should go to Chalet d’alpage de La Racine, when it is just 30 minutes hike up to the peak. You will have to gain just 200 meters in elevation, so that’s easy. Even easier way is to go to Buvette du Mont Tendre, Claude Crottaz, Route du Mont-Tendre, 1147 Montricher, it is just 15 minutes hike from Mont Tendre, and if the Buvette is open, you can have a dinner there. Be aware that the road to this Buvette is not open all year round.
You can even hike all the mountain from Montricher if you have more time, then the hike is around 3 hours, and the elevation gain is almost 1 kilometer, so that’s pretty close to Alpine adventures 🙂 1 km gain in Jura mountains is no different than gaining that in the Alps (of course if you are not higher than 3000 meters in the Alps). Do not forget to say Bonjour in these parts of Switzerland 🙂 It is french speaking!
Jura mountains is mostly thought to be a lesser place, because right next to it is Alps. You can actually easily see the Alps from Jura mountains and see Jura mountains from the Swiss Alps. Mostly Swiss Alps are with white peaks, huge, massive, Jura mountains much smaller, but don’t be fooled, it’s a really great place. Especially I like to visit it and hike when Swiss Alps is not possible to hike or most places are closed, too dangerous and so on. Jura mountains are milder, but you can sweat there even more if you wish. The peaks are over 1500 meters easily, so that’s enough for a really good hike.
Most of the Jura Mountains are french speaking, so the architecture is more french as well, which is a nice change from German part. Most of villages and hamlets are very cozy looking, very old, medieval. Quite many farms which sell local cheese, vegetables or jams. Thousands of nice hiking routes. And the views from Jura mountains are definitely marvelous. They are just different from the Alps. You see much further from them. Nothing is blocking your view.
If you have just one day in Jura mountains in Switzerland: I would hike at least one peak, visit at least one old village or hamlet, have a dinner in the french restaurant and hope to come back later 🙂 You are going to love it!
If you have any more questions regarding Jura mountains, please let me know, I will do my best to help you.
If you are looking for more places to visit in Switzerland, why not Disentis then? It’s a beautiful historical town in the Swiss Alps which speaks not german, not french, not italian, but Romansh! Isn’t that cool?
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