With countless rivers throughout the country, Switzerland has an abundance of striking gorges. The Areuse Gorge is one of them, set in Val de Travers in the Jura Mountains. Anyone can hike the trail through the Areuse Gorge for free, and this detailed guide will prepare you for the experience!
Where to go, how to get there, and what to expect from the hike are some of the things covered in this detailed guide for hikers. From train connections to a packing list; here’s everything you need to know before embarking on a hike through the Areuse Gorge!
Table of Contents
|April – November
|Train station at trailhead; trail unsuitable for strollers and wheelchair users
Areuse Gorge is Boudry in western Switzerland, close to Lake Neuchatel. Noirague and Champ-du-Moulin are the two closest towns to the gorge and are both serviced by train stations. Trains to both towns run from Neuchatel town, but the hike is best done from the direction of Noirague towards Champ-du-Moulin or Boudry.
How to Get There
The Areuse Gorge is meant to be accessed by train. The trailhead is near the Noirague train station, which is accessible in just 20 minutes by train from Neuchatel.
Also, the hike can end either in Boudry or Champ-du-Moulin. Both are train stations that can take you back to Neuchatel in less than half an hour.
It is possible to get close to the gorge in a car or taxi and there is a parking lot near the trailhead. But if you don’t already have a car in Switzerland, the train is truly the most sensible option.
The Areuse Gorge Hiking Trail
The hiking trail for the Areuse Gorge is approximately 11.5 kilometers and it stretches from Noirague to Boudry train station, so it’s optimized for travelers who are arriving in the area by train.
The trail follows the Areuse River, offering wonderful views along the way. It’s a very narrow trail that includes a lot of stairs and bridges for river crossings. It can feel a little claustrophobic at times, with the tall boulders rising above you. Also, the terrain is mostly rocks and forest floors, so it is not suitable for strollers and wheelchair users.
Some sections of the trail take you through the forest, where the terrain can be muddy after rainfall. With wooden steps and roots all over the forest floor, it is essential that you watch your step carefully. There is a protective railing throughout most of the trail.
This isn’t a dangerous or technical trail at all, so it is suitable for anyone. The only requirement is that you can hike for three hours, and you don’t even have to do it all in one go. Take as many breaks as you need, especially if you’re not a very experienced hiker.
Restaurants & Picnic Areas
The Areuse Gorge trail is very long and it’s perfectly normal to take a couple of breaks during the hike. Unfortunately, there’s only one restaurant along the trail and it’s near the end.
Hôtel de la Truite is close to the Champ-du-Moulin train station. If you can wait until the end of the hike to reward yourself with delicious local trout it will be all worth it!
If you can’t hike for three hours without a food break, it’s best to bring some sandwiches. There aren’t really any proper picnic areas with tables and chairs, but you can always sit down on some rocks for a quick lunch. That’s why I recommended sandwiches – it will be much easier if you have food you can eat with one hand than something you can only eat with cutlery.
What to Bring
There are few amenities and services on this hiking trail, so you should bring everything you think you might need during the three hours it takes to hike through the gorge:
- Sturdy hiking boots (something with a lot of traction because the trail is slippery)
- Lots of water (there are no refill fountains along the trail)
- Snacks (sandwiches, protein bars, fruit, etc.)
- Warm and waterproof jacket (it’s chilly near the water and there’s backsplash in some areas so it’s best to be prepared)
- A blanket (or something similar to put between the rocks and yourself when you sit down for a break)
- Camera (to take lots of beautiful photographs)
- SPF (especially if you’re going to Neuchatel Lake afterward)
One thing you don’t need is a swimsuit because it’s not the best idea to go swimming in the river. It’s not forbidden, but the currents are very strong and can be problematic even for very experienced and confident swimmers.
Tips for A Memorable Experience
The best way to enjoy the Areuse Gorge and make the most of your visit is not to rush it. Don’t go fast just because you want to beat the suggested hiking time; take your time and take in the views because they’re phenomenal. Also:
- Take plenty of breaks, the surroundings are too stunning not to
- Go down to the rocks (carefully) for epic photos
- Visit in the summer for the best weather
- Do the hike in autumn for wonderful colors and foliage
- Finish the day in Boudry and go for a swim in the Neuchatel Lake
And don’t forget to enjoy yourself! What’s the point of doing the hike otherwise?
Frequently Asked Questions
Are pets allowed in Areuse Gorge?
Yes, pets (dogs) are allowed in the hiking area at Areuse Gorge. The only requirement is that they must be leashed.
Is swimming allowed in the area?
Swimming in the river is discouraged. It isn’t strictly prohibited, but the river currents are strong so it’s not a good idea to go swimming in the Areuse River. If you’re desperate for a swim, head down to Boudry and jump in Lake Neuchatel.
What is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit Areuse Gorge for hiking is between April and November. The drier the month the easier the hike over the stone steps and bridges will be.
Courtesy of Wikimedia for the image header.