Col Hunting via Trails


Here’s a ride idea that works for anyone: Find a nearby sparsely populated forested region near you that you don’t know. Then map a route that avoids paved roads as much as possible. That was my plan here.

This is a fairly challenging trail ride starting at the historic Pont de la Caille – it involves some pushing and visits 4 cols – including a couple that were probably the nearest cols to my home that I had yet to cycle . Woohoo.

The 4 Cols are all labeled on the map: La Clef des Faux (727m), Col des Menulles (714m), Passage à la Biche (742 metres), and Col de Mallebranche (702 metres).

I started by cycling over Le Pont de la Caille (Quail Bridge). It was built in 1839 to cross a gorge between Annecy and Geneva – it’s now bypassed by a modern autoroute bridge and is car-free. You can move the below photo with your mouse for a 360 degree view:

Immediately after crossing the bridge I jumped onto some trails. Roughly 90% of the ride was on trails or unpaved farm or forestry roads.

Early on I turned up the uninhabited Montmin massif for a great little 4 kms loop (see map). It’s occasionally very difficult. Most of the pushing was here, so you could skip this little loop if it’s not your thing.

The highlight of the ride was climbing through the Montagne de la Mandallaz (roughly kms 17 to 26). I would cross the Passage à la Biche roughly halfway through this forest. Superb trails, and very rideable.

Every now and then on the second half of the ride I would pop out of the forest and have great views of the nearby Alps (Le Parmelan and the mountains around Lake Annecy).

Lake Annecy below

Finally, the ride ended by crossing the Pont de la Caille again.

The 3D video of the route does a good job of showing the forests and little mountains along the route.

A fun, traffic-free, and challenging trail loop to check a few cols off the list.


Happiest while cycling uphill.

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My Cycling Challenge