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Hike – Buttes to Ste-Croix via Chasseron

    Photo: A lonely tree on the Chasseron ridge with the Alps in the background.

    Chasseron is a high (for the Jura) peak at 1607m. It doesn’t stand out when looking at the Jura from afar and isn’t very well known outside of the local area, I learned about it from a friend who lived below it in Yverdon-les-Bains. Being part of southern ridge of the Jura you get views of the Alps, Swiss Plateau, Jura mountains, and off to the Vosges and Black Forest (on a clear day at least).

    Key Information

    Route: Buttes – Raimeux de Crémines – Sur le Golat – Raimeux Sommet – Raimeux de Grandval – Ste-Croix.

    Length: 13.7 km, +954m, -658m.

    Date: 2020-November-29


    Practical Information

    Season: Spring to Autumn. If there is no snow or ice then this is also fine in winter.

    Arrival/Departure: Arrival to Buttes by train from Neuchatel / Depature from Ste-Croix by train to Yverdon.

    Supplies: Basics in Buttes, there are a few restaurants on or near the path, shops and restaurants in Ste-Croix.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: There isn’t really anyway to reduce the length, but you could drive up to the car park just below Chasseron. If you do this walk during the summer months you could skip the first 400m of height gain through the forest by taking the cable car from Buttes to the ski/activity centre at Petite Robella.

    Exposure/Hazards: A bit rocky at times but nothing significant.

    The temperature was barely above freezing and it was very windy. The climb and descent were in the forest at least so that was protected, and on the exposed ridge it was sunny. The worst part was the 20 minute wait for my connecting train in the freezing fog at Yverdon.


    Notes along the route

    Going through the Val de Travers on the train I wondered if I had made the right choice as I could see smoke from chimneys going instantly horizontal. With each stop the train got emptier and the villages got smaller and quieter. Buttes is the final stop and felt like the end of the world with a vending machine on the platform being the only sign of life.

    Buttes
    Buttes.
    Buttes forest.
    Starting out in the forest.

    Emerging from the forest to the alp/ski area at Petite Robella. Some of the hiking sign posts seemed to have been removed (good thing I was checking my map with GPS), presumably to prevent skiers from smashing into them. There probably was a nice view over the valley below from here, but all I could see was fog.

    Finally escaped the fog at the ride above Petite Robella. The path stayed in a valley almost all the way to the peak at Chasseron. So no alpine views until I reached the top. The views of the folded landscape and forests were nice though.

    Chasseron
    Almost out of the fog.
    Chasseron
    Finally in the sunshine

    There isn’t much of a peak really, Chasseron is just the highest point on the ridge. Other than a small weather station there isn’t much at all on the peak – which makes a nice change from giant towers or communications complexes (like on the more famous Chasseral).

    Chasseron
    View from Chasseron towards the Alps.
    Chasseron
    View from Chasseron along the Jura

    The flatland, Jura, and France were lost in the fog. But there was a fantastic alpine panorama.

    I had been hoping that it would be quiet given the effort to get up there, but it turns out there is a road and car park a short distance below the south side of the peak.

    Chasseron lonely tree
    A lonely tree and the Alps.

    I Followed the ridge along from Chasseron to Petite Roches and down to Les Avattes, where the ridge drops down into the forest. Here there was the choice of staying on route 5 or taking a steeper more direct path down: I stuck with route 5. With the frozen ground starting to defrost it made walking very slippery on the grass thanks to a thin layer of melted mud sitting on ice below.

    Chasseron
    A farmhouse just above the fog.
    Chasseron
    Shortly before descending into the fog.

    I can’t make any comment on Ste-Croix as I couldn’t see anything of it which wasn’t right in front of me. It was a major centre for the production of mechanical musical boxes as an offshoot from the watch industry. It didn’t seem very lively or to have much in the way of shops, but I really can’t blame it for being dead out given the thick freezing fog on a Sunday afternoon.

    Entering the fog.
    It was very very cold and windy in the fog.

    From Ste-Croix a train runs down to Yverdon where you join the main Zürich – Lausanne/Geneva train line. I assume the ride from Ste-Croix to Yverdon would be quite scenic on a clearer day.

    Ste-Croix fog
    What I could see of Ste-Croix.

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