Spend a night on the edge of a massive natural rock amphitheater above the Val-de-Travers in the Swiss Jura Mountains, aptly named 'the Grand Canyon of Switzerland.' 

The Creux du Van is found in the wilderness above the town of Noiraigue, a 20-min train ride from Neuchâtel in northwestern Switzerland. It features a magnificent vista ruled by the ibex and wildflowers of the alpine landscape—and it's only a short day hike from the valley below.

If you're arriving from a different part of Switzerland or France, I recommend taking the train. It's about two hours and 25 Swiss francs from Geneva. Exit the train and walk across the tracks to the farm fields south of the Areuse. The trail is a loop, so you can decide whether to hike it clockwise or counterclockwise—and there's a few different route options, as you can see on the Swiss Mobility map.

I hiked clockwise, beginning with the trail from Vers chez Joly to La Ferme Robert in the valley below the cirque, then climbing in elevation towards Déracinées and Pré au Favre to the east before returning towards La Grand Vy. Along the amphitheatre, the trail is right along the edge, which makes for an exciting and scenic hike. I camped at Le Soliat, rose for the sunrise, and returned to the valley via the switchbacks of Sentier de 14 Contours.

If you have any time to expand your trip, I recommend hiking into the valley to stop at Fontaine Froide, a natural spring with water cooled year round by the alpine permafrost, or through Gorges de l'Areuse to Saut de Brot, a picturesque stone bridge in a rough rock canyon. I ended up hiking along the river all the way to Champ-du-Moulin west of Noiraigue, where I took the train back to Neuchâtel.

This makes for a great weekend excursion. Keep your eyes out for the unconcerned ibex and shy chamois that dot the hills of the Jura. If you can, do this hike in the fall or spring—from what I heard, the Creux du Van is very busy on summer days.

Pack List

  • Hiking backpack
  • Tent
  • Compass/GPS
  • First aid kit
  • Knife
  • Lighter
  • Water bottles
  • Camera
  • Sleeping bag/pad
  • Trekking poles
  • Hiking boots
  • Headlamp
  • Sunscreen/sunglasses
  • Clothing
Show More
RT Distance 8.7 Miles
Elevation Gain 2379 Feet
Activities Camping, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Awesome View

Good for beginners, nice tour for a day, but lots of people on the top


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