The 2013 Tour de France will be climbing route #2 below
I cycled up Le Semnoz the other day and thought I’d put together a comprehensive post about this great mountain that is not too well known by cyclotourists.
Le Semnoz is the mountain on the west side of Lake Annecy. Unlike the bigger mountains on the east side of the lake, it’s possibly to cycle up to the peak: Crêt de Chatillon.
There are several interesting choices to cycle this beautiful mountain. It’s easy enough to construct a fabulous loop by going up one side and down another.
View Le Semnoz in a larger map
#1 The Direct North Route
RED on map -> 18.3 kms; 1210 metres ascent
The first 2 routes are similar and the shortest, thus the steepest. Primarily through the woods, apart from a flattish stretch in the middle, this is hard work. This route is kept open in winter almost to the summit to serve the small ski station at the top.
I ran into a traffic jam of goats here once (video).
#2 The North Route with Western start
ORANGE then RED on map -> 18 kms; 1160 metres ascent
This route starts on a very quiet forested road from the west and then joins the north route roughly half way up.
A very good alternative to the north side.
#3 Via Col de Leschaux – from Annecy
BLUE on map -> 26 kms; 1200 metres ascent
I once described the climb from Annecy to Col de Leschaux as a perfect introductory climb for someone new to cycling in the mountains. Twelve kms long and not steep at all – and plenty of views of Lake Annecy.
From Col des Leschaux is a beautiful and quiet back way up to the top of Le Semnoz. Just above the col are superb hairpins that lead ever higher with great views. This route is often but not always closed in winter.
#4 Via Col de Leschaux – south
PINK then BLUE on map -> 20.7 kms; 1070 metres ascent
Coming from the south, this route could be extended all the way to Aix-les-Bains or combined with a loop of Mont Revard.
This link shows a way around Le Semnoz from the south to make an excellent loop in either direction.
#5 via Col de Leschaux via Saint-Eustache
GREEN then BLUE on map -> 26 kms; 1350 metres ascent
This is perhaps my favourite way. I take the Annecy bike path to Saint-Jorioz and then follow a very quiet road up to Saint-Eustache on the way to Col de Leschaux, qnd then up to Le Semnoz. This route gives the best views of Lake Annecy on the early slopes.
A Bonus Idea
Feb 2015, on a nice sunny day, I cycled up to the ski station at the summit of Le Semnoz on a mountain bike, and then rented cross-country skis and skate-skied the trails at the summmit, before descending the far side. Woohoo. Details here.
View of Le Semnoz (over my left shoulder) from the other side of Lake Annecy: