Plateau de Retord is in the French Juras, in the same massif as Grand Colombier.
It’s one of my favourite places for cross-country skiing in winter with more than 100 kilometres of trails at all levels. Today, I explored on a mountain bike. But for road bikers, please see the nice two-col loop detailed below.
On the map, the red route is today’s mountain bike loop that I will explain below. The blue loop is a 53 kilometre road bike ride from 2019 that includes Col de Cuvery and Col de Richemond. See here for details.
Plateau de Retord by mountain bike
I’ve cycled this area many times but usually with a road bike. My plan was to mountain bike up the mountain on forestry trails and then ride some farm roads that I know from winter XC skiing.
I started at the base of the paved road to Col de Cuvery but almost immediately jumped into the woods (you may need to zoom the map.to see the turn-off). The entire route up is very rideable with the exception of a few hundred metres before the Catray lookout at 1065 metres, roughly 7 kms into the ride. Brief, but not dangerous, bike-carrying on a hiking trail.
And the views of Mont Blanc from the lookout were magnificent:
Higher up on the (hilly) plateau, the route would sometimes be wide open, sometimes wooded – and there were lots of cows.
Approaching the small ski station of les Plans d’Hotonnes, I joined a paved but very quiet paved roads- I followed it for several kilometres and took the turn up to Golet Belon (1145m) – labeled on the map. Note, it is a tiny, single lane road but fully paved to within perhaps 25 metres of the Golet. So “Col Hunters” like me can do a quick up-down. 🙂
In this part of the French Juras, Golet is a common synonym to Col or Mountain Pass.
Next, I descended back to the main road but soon jumped back into the woods onto a forestry road to Chapelle de Retord.
There are quite a few trails and gravel farm roads that would be fun to explore. But I was getting tired and decided to keep things simple: After the Chapelle, I rejoined the main road near Col de Cuvery and just descended the paved road back to the start.
This was a very fun, very rideable loop. Beautiful country side and extremely quiet … including the paved sections. Woohoo.