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MTB – Solothurn-Hasenmatt-Bike (Route 565)

    Solothurn-Hasenmatt-Bike top

    Photo: Looking over the Mittelland from the start of the big descent.

    I was a bit surprised when browsing around on SchweizMobil to see that a new MTB loop had popped up near me in Solothurn – the Solothurn-Hasenmatt-Bike (Route 565).

    This is a route I know well, having cycled up and around the Hasenmatt many times. As an after work ride in spring/summer or a local weekend ride for those living in the Solothurn area it is fine, but I wouldn’t recommend travelling far out of your way to ride it.

    Key Information

    Route: Solothurn – Lommiswil – Althüsli – Schauenburg – Lommiswil – Solothurn.

    Length: 31km, +/- 1000m.

    Date: I have done this numerous times around the year.


    For more rides in Switzerland see my list of cycling/MTB posts.

    Practical Information

    Season: This can often be done year round if there isn’t snow (even then it would be doable if a little exhausting). It is certainly nicer in the warmer months when the top is meadowy and full of cows. The north side of the Hasenmatt which is the highest and shadiest point can be seen on the Weissenstein webcam which should you an idea if there is any snow.

    Arrival/Departure: Train to/from Solothurn.

    Supplies: The first/last 2km through Solothurn and the suburbs/villages are never far from a shop or restaurant. Althüsli at the top and Schauenburg just after starting the descent are the two options on the mountainside.

    Alternate routes/shortcuts: I think there are various ways to improve this.

    • One of my favourite ways up is to take the train from Solothurn to Gänsbrunnen, then ride up the back via Binxberg. The ride up the valley is beautiful and much quieter and more rural than from the Solothurn side. The tunnel is undergoing maintenance work from the end of March 2023 so that will be closed in the near future.
    • Rather than dropping straight back down you can head along the ridge to Weissenstein (where the paved road makes for very memorable descent), or carry on through to Balmberg, Schmiedenmatt, and beyond to stay up high and enjoy the views for longer. This involves a bit of up and down but you can follow the ridgeline 16km to Hinteregg with only 360m of height gain. Going the other way along the ridge means following the very unrideable and narrow path along the ridge, or dropping down and pushing/carrying your bike up to Obere Grenchenberg.
    • There isn’t really a way to shortcut this. You could take the train up to Im Holz which would skip the first 7.5km and 200m of climb, but that section is worth including as a warm-up.
    • If you run out of energy then just turn the bike around and roll back down to the start.
    • I would actually recommend a different way of doing the entire route which for an extra 2km and 50m of height gain throws in some more variation, dinosaur footprints, and spends less time in the suburbs. GPX (via Dropbox).

    Exposure/Hazards: Very little to worry about. This is almost entirely on wide asphalt and smooth gravel roads without any proper single trail and no exposure. The only exception is the descent from the ridge just beyond Althüsli to just before Schauenburg which whilst ‘only’ an unpaved road has a grade of about 20% and is fairly rough.

    Some workers and guests will be driving up and down to the restaurants so be careful when going around corners even high up on the mountain.

    Notes along the route

    The ride starts gently enough. Crossing the Aare then through the old town and suburbs of Solothurn before climbing up through the forest to Lommiswil. Mostly this is fine but forgettable, with an effort made to stick to quiet back roads.

    The real climb begins out of Lommiswil. From here there is a nonstop climb up 700m of height to the top with a fairly consistent average gradient of 10%. The first few minutes are across an open meadow which can already have fantastic views on a clear day. After that it enters the forest and all you see are trees and the road climbing up ahead until you reach the top. This offers protection from the hot sun or cold winds, but does get a little monotonous.

    The climb starts to drag and the road seems to just carry on endlessly. This is especially bad in the lead up to the final hairpin which is 2km of constant 10-11% in the same direction with every little bend on the horizon turning out to just be a slight wobble in the road rather than the hairpin. When you finally reach the last hairpin it is just 1km with a much gentler gradient to the ridgeline.

    Reaching the top of the ridge is actually a bit cruel. It is still in the forest so the view towards the Alps is partial at best, and you need to drop down and climb up another 50m to reach Althüsli. The compensation is that this little climb is through open meadow and the views over the ridges of the Jura to the north are now open for you to enjoy as you grind your way up the last bit.

    Solothurn-Hasenmatt-Bike top
    The view from Althüsli towards Weissenstein on a glorious day in May.

    At 1319m Althüsli is the highest point on the route and it is all downhill from here. I have never tried the food there but the restaurant has some very scenic outdoor seating and isn’t a bad option for a drink.

    After Althüsli there is a minute or so of easy cruising and enjoying the views to the north before descending back down the south side of the ridge. If you have a lock you can leave the bikes and make the short climb up to Hasenmatt for the views (or the more hardcore can carry their bikes up too and then ride down the footpath on the other side).

    The first few minutes of the descent are as rough a road as you will find. It is a fairly constant 20% and the surface is very rough/loose so requires some care. The first section is the worst with loose gravel and some bigger uneven rocks, after that varies between fairly smooth and rock garden but isn’t as bad again. The farm restaurant at Schaunenburg marks the end of the nasty part of the descent and offers the chance for a drink to recover.

    From Schuenenberg the going is much easier again on smooth gravel roads which are never as steep. The road spirals down into the forest and then through a tunnel to skip the dramatic bit of gorge. The tunnel opens to a fantastic viewpoint.

    Solothurn-Hasenmatt-Bike tunnelexit
    Emerging from the tunnel.
    Solothurn-Hasenmatt-Bike tunnelexit
    The gorge.

    From here the road re-enters the forest and quickly rejoins the route that you climbed up earlier. The official route doubles back to Solothurn exactly the same way (or does in the current state, maybe that will change).

    If you have a bit more energy in you I would suggest staying at about the same height and following the mountainside along to the west. After a few minutes the Steingrüben which has dinosaur footprints in the rock then carrying on through the forest to Oberdorf the open ridge to Rüttenen offers some fantastic views, and the chance of a few bits of single trail on the way down to Solothurn.

    Dinosaur footprints in the quarry.

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