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.
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.
"And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul" - John Muir
PLANNING YOUR ROUTE
In general, using the train system is your best bet. Take a car or use public transportation to get to one of the rail stations at the terminus of the trail. Bole possibly being the easiest. Take the train up past Champ-du-Moulin, and get off at Noiraigue. From there you will be walking back to the train station at Bôle. It is possible to choose of train stations, to do the train up hill, or a possibility of other options. If you are interested in using public transportation as mentioned, the following website can aid you with planning you train route: map.search.ch
Planning your route, is best done using a map. Try using the linked map below, the following text correspondences to it. Start by check the “hiking in Switzerland” box, and finding Lac de Neuchâtel. Down the lake from the city of Neuchâtel, is the towns of Boudry and Bôle. From Boundry, follow the valley away from the lake to the town of Noiraigue. The trail runs from Noiraigue out to Boundry and Bôle . As you can tell by zooming in, there are endless trails. By making use of the train map, and trail map, you should be able to plan a trip that uniquely fits your situation. Here is a site for planning your trail route: map.wanderland.ch
WHAT TO BRING
What you will want to bring will be totally dependent on your ability, planned route, and duration. For the simplest route, and for unconfident hikers, hiking poles and steady hiking boots are recommended. For more strong footed hikers, athletic shoes or trail runners will be enough, with hiking poles in poor conditions (snow, very wet, or heavy pack). There are numerous places to stop and have a picnic along the way. You can pack your own food and water, make a stop at Champ-du-Moulin at a restaurant like Restaurant de la Truite, or bypass on eating all together. There is good marked signage, but we strongly recommend that you have a map, or are very familiar with the areas because of the numerous trail junctions on the route. Having hiked the entire Appalachian trail, I always recommend bringing some type of blister protection. A small blister can make a three-hour hike terrible, a right bandage application as soon as you feel the burn starting, can completely stave off the problem. This list is not exhaustive.
Interest in hiking Gorges de l'Areuse? You might also be interested in hiking Creux-du-Van. It is also located in the canton of Neuchâtel, and the view from the top of the rim is stunning! Explore more on Creux-du-Van:
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