The Creux du Van Loop Trail is a 14 km hike with approximately 780 m of ascent and decent. This moderately challenging trail leads up to the Creux du Van, a large semi-circular rock cliff. The Creux du Van is a completely natural formation shaped solely by ice, erosion, and rain, and an impressive sight.Detail Summary
|Where:||Creux du Van Loop Trail|
Canton Neuchâtel, Switzerland
|Train/Bus:||Zürich HB -> Noiraigue – 2 hr 3 min|
|Car:||Shorter hike option for arrival by car (SwissFamilyFun)|
|What:||Creux du Van Loop Trail|
From Noiraigue train station, follow:
– Yellow Trail markers towards Les Oeuillons and Creux du Van
From Les Oeuillons, follow:
– Yellow Trail markers towards Creux du Van and Soliat
At Creux du Van, follow:
– The path along the cliff edge
– Optional detour up to le Soliat and then return to the cliff edge
At the end of the cliff walk, follow:
– Yellow Trail markers to La Grand Vy.
From La Grand Vy, follow:
– Yellow Trail markers to Noiraigue
|Skill:||Hard – About 5 hrs|
Length 14 km, Ascent 780 m, Descent 780 m
|Cost||No additional costs beyond public transport.|
This is a loop trail that starts and ends at the Noiraigue train station. This seemed to be a very popular trail as it was quite crowded at the start. However, there are several trails here and after just a few minutes the crowd started to break apart with different groups heading off in different directions.
We were hiking the Creux du Van loop, so we followed the yellow trail markers point in the direction of Les Oeuillons and Creux du Van.
After leaving Noiraigue, the trail heads into the forest and begins the climb up to Creux du Van.
About halfway up, we passed Buvette Les Oeuillons (french), an animal sanctuary with a snack shop/restaurant. It was closed when we went by, but it looks like a nice place to stop for ice cream in the summer. After about another 2km of uphill hiking, we got our first view of the rock formation we had come to see.
As it was about noon, we decided we needed a lunch break, so we found some rocks near by and had our picnic before continuing on the trail. Just off the trail we spotted an ibex and later a chamois resting in the sun. Running along the length of the cliff is a stone wall. There is a hiking path on both sides of the wall, with occasional breaks in the wall allowing you to easily move from one side to the other. As there was some snow and ice still, as well as emerging new plants, some parts of the trail running directly alongside the cliff were marked as closed. (And even if not closed, good judgment would say not to walk on an icy cliff edge.)
Despite parts of the cliff-side path being impassable, there were plenty of places to step through the stone wall and get a closer view.
This spot was particularly impressive. You can really see the sweep of the cliff circle.
Although the Creux du Van trail continues along the cliff edge the entire length of the formation, at around the midpoint, we took a small detour up to le Soliat, the local high-point to really enjoy the 360 degree views. The contrast between the cliff and the fields is really amazing.
After returning to the Creux du Van trail, we got a few more views from some new angles.
At the end of the cliff walk, we needed to make our way back down to Noiraigue. There were two paths we could take, a red-and-white mountain trail directly leading to Noiraigue, or an easier path taking us past La Grand Vy. Because there was still some snow and ice on the path, we decided against the steeper red-and-white trail and instead followed the yellow signs to La Grand Vy (french). Although closed when we hiked by, this restaurant looked like a nice place to grab a summer drink.
From La Grand Vy, we simply followed the yellow trail markers back to Noiraigue. We met a couple on the trail who had taken the steeper red-and-white path we had opted against earlier. They said we made a good choice, as the ice made the trail very challenging. They wished they had taken the route we did.
With Noiraigue in sight, we were back to the start of the loop. From there, we retraced our steps to the train station and caught the next train home.
The Creux du Van loop was a great trail and the rock formation was really interesting to see. It was a bit more challenging of a hike than I thought it would be, but we had a great time.