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Bike – The Schelten Pass

    Schelten Pass Cycling August Jura

    Photo: Looking back down the eastern approach in August.

    A quiet little pass that isn’t the most spectacular in Switzerland but is well worth a ride if you are in the area.

    This doesn’t have the height or views of Weissenstein, but it would be easy to combine with a loop over that or the nearby Passwang.

    The Schelten Pass (1051m)

    Schelten (La Scheulte in french) is a pass which connects the German speaking Mümliswil in canton Solothurn to the French speaking Delemont in Jura.

    There are no proper villages along the way, just a scattering of farmhouses. This is quite an obscure little pass – to the extent that there isn’t even a post bus going along the route. If you want to get out here you are going to have to do so under your own wheels or feet.

    The commune of Schelten is quite curious. It is German speaking and voted to remain part of Canton Bern whilst the most the Bernese Jura chose to change to the new canton Jura so it is an effective exclave (only connected by a little umbilical cord over rough ground). For this reason the language divide isn’t actually on the pass, but part way down the western side. It is also one of the smallest communes in Switzerland with just 32 inhabitants spread out over a few farmhouses.

    Practical information

    East side from Ramiswil (7km, + 400m)

    The eastern side is a fairly simple ride up the almost straight Guldental from the turn off of the Passwang Strasse. This starts very gently then slowly ramps up to a constant 10% for the last few km to scale the end of the valley.

    The valley remains fairly wide and open most of the way along so isn’t spectacular but is usually pretty. The road pops in and out of forest so the immediate view changes fairly frequently.

    About half way the paved road turns away from the forest and climbs fairly steeply (12% or more) through meadow before dropping back down to the stream again. Staying on the little gravel road which carries on along the stream avoids this extra climb and rejoins the road soon after.

    Schelten Pass Cycling August Jura
    Typical meadow, farm, and forest view along the eastern side.

    West side from Mevelier (7.2km, +477m)

    The western side is the much more varied and challenging of the two. The road twists and turns through gorges and open meadows, it also throws in some nasty little steep ramps (because Jura mountains).

    Leaving Mevelier the road enters a gorge with rock walls towering on both sides. The valley quickly widens but the road remains in the forest until the final push to the pass when it climbs through open meadows – finally offering some impressive views of the rugged landscape and back down the valley.

    The first 1.5km are a series of steep +10% climbs and short reliefs. This is followed by a much easier 2km through a very narrow section of forest/gorge at a gentle 3-4%. The valley widens again at the Restaurant Scheltenmühle and the final climb beings – climbing the remaining 300m over 3.4km with some sections going over 10%.

    Schelten Pass Cycling October Jura
    Looking back down the western side from near the top in October.

    What to do at the top

    The top of the pass itself isn’t all that interesting (there isn’t even a proper pass sign) with just a few parking spots and a footpath sign. The pass road crosses a forested ridge so it isn’t the greatest viewpoint. There are views up and down the valley (but not both at once).

    There are a few restaurants around the past. Carrying on up the ridge leads to Restaurant Matzendörfer Stierenberg, or a small detour on the western side of the pass goes to Restaurant Erzberg.

    Roadies are limited to just the pass road but with a mountain bike there are a few other options:

    Hohe Winde March
    The view from Hohe Wind looking towards Delemont in March.

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