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Hike Gorges de l'Areuse, Switzerland

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

Let the name speak for itself, “Gorges de l’Areuse” is a gorge formed by the river Areuse, and considered to be one of the best hikes in Switzerland outside of the Alps. The meandering river runs from the valley floor under the cliffs of creux-du-van, out to a hill top panoramas of Lake Neuchâtel. The cascading river water cuts a ravine so deep that tunnels and foot bridges are used to traverse the terrain. During the hot summer, finding yourself under a dense tree canape, along cool flowing water, with little else to do but enjoy the outdoors, can be the refreshing experience you are in need of.


THE TERRAIN

gorges de l'areuse truss bridge river crossing
Gorges de l'Areuse - Truss bridge river crossing

Gorges de l’Areuse is found in the canton of Neuchâtel in the Jura Mountains. The Jura Mountain range runs along the northwest frontier of Switzerland, north of the city of Geneva to near the city Basel. To compare them to the United States, they are much more similar to the Appalachian Mountains than the Rockies, with the highest peak being a little over 5,600 feet (Crêt de la Neige). Although the Jura Mountains are far less popular than the Alps, the range offers spectacular natural beauty intertwined with farms, and sophisticated industrial cities with world famous companies like Victorinox and Rolex. Two mountains run parallel to the trail. Le Soliat mountain to the south (4,800 feet), and the Rocher des Tablettes mountain to the north (4,225 feet). These mountains have multiple rocky outcrops, including the most famous in the region, Creux du Van. Trails intertwine the Gorge, and both mountains, making for a number of possible routes ranging in distance and difficulty. As a result of the natural geology, force of the water, and ancient glaciers, some of the terrain can be quite formidable. The trail that follows the Gorge is well maintained. There will be no rock hopping across rivers, unless you feel like doing that sort of thing. Various types of bridges, gravel paths, paved paths, or even roads link the main trail together with hiking signage. The terrain is much easier if you commence from up in the valley, and work your way downstream towards the lake. Some of the most popular sightseeing spots are towards the latter half of the trail when the gorge really starts to cut narrowly between the two mountains.