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.
Fully agree with you, steep & quiet Jura roads are the best. I haven’t gone to all these summits yet, I’ll need to get the full list this year 😉
Just FYI, I can confirm the Baudichonne road is clear and clean by now.
Now, off you go 😉
Another nice list, thanks Will. I though of two possible additions:
There is a road to the top of Mont d’Or (between Metabief and Vallorbe). The summit is at 1463m, but I’m not sure what height the road gets up to, I’ve only been to about 1250 metres, and then took the small road that connects to the Mont d’Orziere road from Vallorbe. Next time I’ll do the extra climb to the summit.
Also, from the top of Col de la Faucille, you can take a road that goes up higher. It looks like it goes to a restaurant at about 1500 metres, but again I haven’t made it to the top yet.
Good points. Thanks.
I think you mean the road up to the west. I usually use it to descend from Col de Croset (1485) – which is a great unpaved climb from the geneva side.
See here: https://www.cycling-challenge.com/col-de-crozet-above-the-clouds/
It’s a very nice stretch of road above Faucille. If I remember, the paved stuff ends about half was between Faucille and Croset.
But the climb to Col de la Faucille is one of my least favourite Jura climbs as perhaps the busiest road in the region. Although I always make it sound worse than it really is. 🙂
For Mont d’Or.
Oops, I have actually cycled this. It’s a crazy steep final kilometre – 15%. The road ends at 1415 metres
I’ll update this post when i get the chance. Thanks!
I think I found another one! There is a ridge running NE from Le Noirmont, which is above La Cure. According to my Kummerly+Frey cycling map, the road going up the east side of Le Noirmont is paved until around 1450 metres, and then there is another road going up to the ridge from near Le Brassus, which is paved until close to 1500 metres. Between the two, there is an unpaved track marked that stays near the top of the ridge. It looks like a fun ride to do, I may have to go check it out.
Also, I’ve never done Col de la Croset, but it’s on my to-do list, so hopefully I’ll make it there this summer.
Yesterday, I checked out the road behind Le Noirmont that I mentioned in my previous comment. It is paved until right around 1500 metres on both sides, and the two sections can be connected by using a MTB on some single trail – very fun. I stayed at a friend’s place in the area last night, and today’s main goal is Col de Croset.
I can confirm that the road between Col de la Faucille and Col de la Crozet is paved until pretty much the highest point at about 1510 metres where there is a restaurant, about 1 km from Col de la Crozet.
Well done Chris, thx.
A quick note to say a big thank you for this excellent post on the highest Jura climbs (and for the fantastic website generally, which I´ve been using as my cycling ´bible´ for a couple of years). Went up Mont Tendre yesterday and you were right, its a wonderful climb – tough but scenic and very quiet. The chalet at the top was open, so even got a coffee and a tartelette au citron as a reward – perfect.
Very well done. It’s been a long time for me, I need to get the courage to visit Mont Tendre again. The reward at the chalet sounds worth the effort 🙂
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I would suggest a new #3 – the road up to the Swiss Jura mountain “Le Chasseron” (1607m). I climbed it in Mai 2015 from Vuiteboeuf to Sainte Croix and via the small ski station “Les Rasses”. The paved road reaches the Hotel du Chasseron (http://www.chasseron.ch) at around 1580m.
thanks for the tip Markus! I’ve had that on my list. 2016 ! 🙂
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awesome list! This year in August I cycled with my road bike up to the Petit Mont Rond station. There is only a few meters after La Faucille that are gravel, but then the paved road starts and goes up to the very top of Petit Mont Rond. I liked it a lot, there is no motor traffic beyond La Faucille, it is a bit steeper, but not really tough, and great view. I think it is around 1534 m high.
Many thanks. I finally cycled this. Indeed, paved to the Ventoux-like tower at 1534 metres.
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Hey guys. Can you recommend some accommodation in the Jura? I’m thinking self catering gite or a cycling friendly chambre d’hote
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