Lac Genin/Col du Sentier Jura Mountain Biking


There are endless signed mountain bike (VTT) routes in France but often it’s tough to find information about them. The Fédération Française de Cyclisme has an incomplete but good collection – see here. But often official local tourist sites are an unexpected gold mine of information/maps/etc. The routes for this ride I found at the Haut Bugey (Jura mountains) Tourisme web site.

Lac Genin

I had visited Lac Genin on road bike years ago and was intrigued by the little brochure on the web site describing 3 signed mountain bike routes.

It has this hand-drawn map. I emailed the tourist office looking for gpx files, but they don’t have any.

My route? I would ride the 1st half of the red route (starting from Lac de Sylans), then the entire blue loop, and finish with the 2nd half of the red route.

I must say it’s brilliantly signed: Standard mountain bike signs with either red, blue or green squares depending on the route. But it’s easy to miss signs in the deep woods, descending nervously on tricky stretches, passing endless little forest trails. So I highly recommend downloading my gpx file if you ride this. Just click on the route link on the map above.

This is a fabulous ride. It follows a mix of unpaved forestry roads, trails, single track, etc. of varying quality/difficulty. Apart from the touristy lake, I saw no-one. Several times I had to hop over trees that the forestry guys had cut down but not cleared. Other stretches look like they could get very muddy, so I’d advise avoiding after / during a lot of rain.

Logging trail. This stretch could get too muddy in the rain

NOTE: this is a tough ride. While only 45 kms, I’d say it’s as tough as a 100km hilly road bike loop. Difficult surfaces, occasionally technical descents, etc. But virtually all of it is rideable. I had the impressive average speed of approximately 10 km/h !!!! 🙂

I started beside Lac de Sylans, down low, just off the auto-route finding the red route after perhaps a kilometre. It’s immediately uphill, after only 4 kilometres I had this view of Lac de Sylans:

I knew the route passed Col du Sentier, a nice paved climb that appeared in the Tour de France a few years ago, so I quickly dashed onto the paved road for a visit (marked on map).

At Lac Genin is a big auberge/restaurant that is perfect for something to drink or a lunch break. I forgot water bottles so had a drink there both times I passed it.

That’s about it. It’s an enjoyable, challenging, remote, varied collection of trails. Lots of fun.


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Happiest while cycling uphill.

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