To the north of the Western Alps, the Jura mountains are primarily situated in France and Switzerland, running into Germany. Sparsely populated, there is lots of great cycling there – often on extremely quiet roads. While the Juras are far lower than the Alps, you will find in this list many very difficult cycling climbs – often with cows. 🙂
For more in this series see:
- The “Twenty Highest Paved Cycling Climbs in France” – here.
- The “Ten Highest Paved Cycling Climbs in Italy” – here.
- The “Twenty Highest Paved Cycling Climbs in Switzerland” – here.
- Thirty of the Highest Unpaved Cycling “Roads” in the Alps – here.
This list may miss a little road or two. Feel free to comment if you think I have excluded any worthwhile climbs.
#1 Mont Tendre – 1,615 metres
I’ll try and not get to repetitive, but you will see a theme: quiet, tiny, forest roads. In the Swiss Juras, Mont Tendre is tough, but well worth the effort. There is a chalet at the top and you will likely run into some friendly cows. Great views of the distant alps on a clear day.
For more details see here. Note, the link includes a visit to Rizel – another little forest road that peaks at 1470 metres.
#2 Chasseral – 1,607 metres
While cycling up to Chasseral is not much like cycling up Mont Ventoux, it does have three things in common with its Provençal cousin:
- Both summits are barren and can be seen from dozens of miles away.
- Both summits have huge red and white striped communication towers.
- Both are difficult to cycle.
More details here. Note, the high point of the road continues above Col du Chasseral – at 1502 metres the highest paved Col in the Juras.
#3 La Barillette/La Dôle – 1,528 metres
One of my favourites. This quiet Swiss Jura forest road ends at the Swisscom tower at La Barillette. It, and the radar dome at La Dôle, both easily visible from Geneva far below.
More details here.
#4 Mont du Chat – 1,504 metres
Le Cycle Magazine once called the road to the Relais du Mont du Chat possibly the hardest climb in France. It’s not, but it’s not easy. Starting from the banks of Lac du Bourget (largest lake in France), this climb has few hairpins, relentlessly heading higher.
Mont du Chat can be combined with Col de l’Epine (see here), or Col du Chat (see here) to make excellent, quiet, challenging loops. Or skip the super steep Mont du Chat and make a superb loop with Col de l’Epine and Col du Chat (see here).
#5 Grand Colombier – 1,501 metres
I warned you the Jura had difficult climbs. And Grand Colombier might be the toughest, with three of the four routes brutally steep – 22% stretch included. Details of all four sides here.
#6 La Maréchaude – 1491 metres
I had missed this climb in the first version of this post. Thanks to Chris in the comments below. La Maréchaude is a little farm/restaurant at the end of a tiny paved road that extends into the high Juras from the well known Col de la Faucille. I actually usually climb it from the far, unpaved side, via Col de Crozet. See here.
This view is actually a couple of unpaved kms past the Chalet. But worth the extension ….. as the views then open up to the distant Alps.
#7 Chalet du Suchet – 1,489 metres
I remember getting slightly nervous at one point on this Swiss climb as I was briefly surrounded by cows. 🙂 Very similar to Mont Tendre: quiet, challenging forest road opening up to rocky pastures and views of the Lake far below.
Here is a ride that includes Col de l’Aguillon (the 17th highest paved Jura col at 1293 metres).
#8 Col du Marchairuz – 1,447m
They serve beer at the summit. Do you need to know anything more? Slightly more busy than the above climbs, Col du Marchairuz is the 3rd highest paved col in the Juras. I’ve seen the Tour de Romandie here a couple of times.
Here is a loop that also includes Col du Mollendruz – the 11th highest Col in the Juras.
#9 Dent de Vaulion – 1,415 metres
I’ve yet to cycle this Swiss climb. 🙁
#10 La Baudichonne – 1,403 metres
This steep, extremely quiet Swiss forest road climbs along the French border, just a little west of La Dôle. The paved road ends at the summit, but with a mountain bike one can link to Col de Combe Blanche (below)
Ride details here.
Here’s an old video of my Belgian Domestique descending La Baudichonne:
#11 Col de Combe Blanche – 1,390 metres
Also know as Col de la Vattay or Col de Puthod. In France, just to the west of La Baudichonne, yet another steep, single-lane, deserted, forest road that comes out at La Vattay.
La Vattay is one of my favourite Cross Country Ski locations. It’s easy to make a loop with Col de la Faucille.
More details here.
A Final Word
I love cycling in the Juras – and there are many more worthy roads than those listed above. See the map below for more. Click icons for links to blog posts.
There is also, of course, lots and lots of great mountain biking possible on trails or unpaved forest roads. Use the search box for Col du Sac or Col de Croset for two of my favourites.