Switzerland’s Best Unknown Trail – The 66 du Doubs

Switzerland really needs no introduction for any hiker. If you do a google search with just Switzerland, the first thing that pops up is ‘hiking in Switzerland,’ which is no surprise. Switzerland’s breath-taking scenery lures hikers from around the world, most of whom flock to more popular destinations, such as Zermatt to catch a glimpse of the Matterhorn. However, there are numerous lesser-known trails that are equally if not more beautiful. One of those trails is the 66 du Doubs – a stunning 3-4-day hike in Jura Switzerland. While the 66 du Doubs might be one of the lesser-known hikes in Switzerland, it is, as I recently discovered, definitely one of the most beautiful.

Here is my experience hiking Switzerland’s best unknown trails, the 66 du Doubs. And, at the end of this post, you will find a practical information guide as well as several useful tips and tricks.

Stunning Landscapes while Hiking 66 du Doubs in SwitzerlandPinPin
Beautiful Landscapes!

Day 1: Saint Ursanne to Ocourt

The train rolled into Saint Ursanne, and, as I stepped down onto the platform and the cool morning breeze hit my face, I had an instant feeling of nostalgia. I had lived in Zurich about 8 years ago, and I had been longing to return and hike its pristine trails. Back then, I had hiked in nearly every region of Switzerland, and there was always this sense of tranquillity that came with hiking in Switzerland.

As I strolled through Saint Ursanne, looking for the start of the hike, there was this sense of calm throughout the town and I felt like I never really left.

Saint Ursanne while hiking in SwitzerlandPin
Saint Ursanne

The first day would be difficult, not technically, but the first 1-2 hours was a steady incline from Saint Ursanne to Sur La Croix. I was also hiking in the middle of a heatwave, which is quite surprising for September, but, as always, hiking weather never ceases to surprise me, no matter how much I plan. In fact, my husband had hiked this very hike 20 years ago in October and warned me of the freezing temperatures, so I opted for September. Sure enough, I had just the opposite, sweltering heat with 100% humidity.

When I reached the edge of Saint Ursanne, I saw the sign for the hike. It was not terribly difficult to find. All hikes in Switzerland are clearly marked with a logo of some kind and the distance/time to the next stop. The 66 du Doubs was no different – a hiker’s footprint with Les 66 du Doubs written below.

Logo for the 66 du Doubs while hiking in SwitzerlandPin
The 66 du Doubs Logo

The incline began instantly, alternating between farm fields and forested sections, and finally finishing at Sur La Croix. While this was not the highest point of the first day, the remaining 2.4 km to the day one summit was relatively gradual. From there the trail descended down to Ocourt, where I would set up camp for the first night.

When I arrived in Ocourt, I noticed that there were no restaurants or bakeries, just a few houses. It did, however, have a water fountain where I could fill up my water bladder, for free. I had started the day with 2.5L of water, and by the time I reached Ocourt, it was completely empty, so I was grateful to stumble upon this little surprise.

The campsite (Moulin du Doubs) was at the edge of town, an additional 15 min, which might not seem like much, but after about 8 hours of hiking it felt like a lifetime.

As I entered the campsite and walked to reception, I received a few strange looks. “I guess not many tourists ever reach this part of Switzerland,” I said to myself. As I approached reception, the couple who managed the place stood up to welcome me, and asked, “Did you walk here?” “Why yes, I am hiking the 66 du Doubs, and I just came from Saint Ursanne,” I replied. Two other women, who were near reception interjected with the same question, “You walked? You know there is nothing here, no food or anything around?” I laughed and said, “Yes, I can see that, and I have 3 days left.” As I looked at the 4 of them, it was clear they were not hikers and preferred to spend their time bathing in the sun and swimming in the river. I smiled and thought to myself, “Ah, la belle vie!”

As I paid the elderly gentlemen he said “Follow me, I will show you where you can put your tent.” He was quite a character, more so than the others, his speedo and bandana combined with his large star-shaped nipple rings gave off a real rock-and-roll look. He picked up my back and instantly started laughing, “You’ve got 20kg here!” I smiled and said, “Well with no food around, I had no choice but to carry everything.”

He showed me where I could put my tent, and as we walked through the campsite, I realized Ocourt was in fact a popular spot for vacation goers in Switzerland; a middle-of-nowhere spot next to the Le Doubs river. It was peaceful and the scenery was magnificent.

I set up my tent, ate a small dinner, took a shower, closed my eyes, and slept until the heat of the sun touched my tent the next morning.

Useful Tip: The camping site (Moulin du Doubs) is roughly 15 min from Ocourt, and is clearly marked on maps.me.

Waterfall at Ocourt campsite while hiking in SwitzerlandPin
Camping in Ocourt

Day 2: Ocourt to Soubey

The second day was, for lack of a better description, rough. While the overall number of kilometers was less than the previous day, the start of day 2 involved an incline of 400m in less than 2km. I had not really realized until I started hiking, what that really meant.

Of course, starting with such an incline, meant the rest of the day would be long. It was also the hottest day of the hike with temperatures soaring over 30 oC. In spite of this, I was particularly motivated because Soubey was the only town along the trail with a restaurant and a grocery store, and I was looking forward to a warm meal and stocking up on supplies.

Luckily, I started early and I completed the worst part before the sun began to beat down on the trail. The descent to Soubey was relatively easy. The only challenge was the blistering sun, as most of the trail was uncovered and exposed.

Once I reached Soubey, I set up my tent at the campsite, which is just in front of the bridge, and headed straight to the restaurant. I had been dreaming of a real meal, and the heat of the day had taken most of my energy.

I sat down at Hotel du Cerf, and the owner arrived to take my order. I asked for the menu, and he begrudgingly said, “No, only drinks.” He said reservations were required, and, without a reservation, I could only order drinks. I said, “Ok, I’ll just have a beer.” I drank my beer, and headed over to the only grocery store along the trail, only to discover it closes early on Mondays. Even though it would be open the following morning, I felt slightly defeated.

Exhausted and hungry, I head back to my tent to make a sandwich. I knew there would not be many places to eat along the trail, but Hotel du Cerf was recommended and advertised. So, I had planned one meal at this restaurant, and I knew I could fill up on supplies at the grocery store in Soubey. I was slightly surprised that reservations were required, but I was prepared for the worst and I had extra food.

I, eventually, passed out in my tent and woke up to a beautiful fog-covered campsite.

Fog Covered Campsite at Soubey while hiking in SwitzerlandPin
Foggy Morning

Day 3: Soubey to Pont de Ravines

I packed up the tent, took a warm shower, and headed over to the grocery store to fill up on supplies. The owner was a lovely woman who was more than welcoming. Her shop was filled with a variety of cheeses, sausages, and plenty of energy bars. After I stocked up on food, I began hiking the third stretch of the 66 du Doubs.

This would be the easiest day – short and mostly flat.

I walked along Le Doubs river for the beginning part of the day, and I found the landscape to be more striking than the first two days. Once, I crossed the river, I spent the rest of the hike on a forest-covered trail. This part of the hike was definitely more isolated than the first two days, which I found quite surprising.

Morning Dew while hiking in SwitzerlandPin
Morning Dew

Overall, the third day was largely uneventful, until I reached the end of the third day – Pont du Ravines, and was met with an unwelcoming surprise. By this point, my feet were hurting and I just wanted to go to bed and push on for the last day. As I descended, I passed a sign – 40 min to Saint Ursanne. I thought to myself, “What on earth is this?” “The fourth day was supposed to be 18km with a 500m incline, how could it be only 40 min away?”

In fact, the trail can be shortened by one day via this little shortcut. It was tempting. I had several blisters on my feet, which was a rarity for me. I was tired, sweaty, hungry, and realized my 10-year-old camping mattress had seen its last hike. In my heart, I wanted to finish the hike, but my feet wanted to go home. I lowered my head, turned away, and said to myself, “It’s not called the 66 du Doubs for nothing, I need to finish all 66km!”

There were no official campsites on this part of the trail, and, so, wild camping it was. I placed my tent next to the river and spent the evening soaking my blister-covered feet in the cool refreshing water. Unfortunately, this was the only part of the hike where I did not have access to drinkable water, but I had my Gray water filter and was able to filter all the water I needed for the evening and the last day.

I went to bed just as the sun was setting. I was hoping for a good night’s sleep so I could wake up early, but the night proved to be rather noisy. Pont du Ravines is, for the most part, void of residents, which meant I heard everything from leaves falling to foxes screaming all night. Determined to finish the hike, I forced myself to wake up before sunrise and began the final ascent.

Day 4: Pont de Ravines to Saint Ursanne

Sun Peeking Through the Forest while Hiking in SwitzerlandPin
Sun Rays

The air was cool and my motivation pushed me to hike faster than the previous days. For whatever reason, I had acquired a lot of blisters on this hike, and I was longing for regular gym shoes.

As I climbed, I was again amazed by the landscape, even more, beautiful than before. I had estimated that it would take me roughly 2-3 hours to complete the ascent, based on the previous three days. I was, however, surprised to see that I had beat my time! In my mind, my bag felt lighter and the air was cooler and somehow that motivated me to hike faster. I had also anticipated that ascent would be dreadful, but, it was, actually, not that bad.

I, eventually, reached the summit of the entire hike – just below 1000 meters. Granted it is not the highest I’ve been, last year alone I surpassed 6000 meters while climbing Chachani in Peru, but, reaching the summit of a hike always gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Highest Point of the 66 du Doubs in SwitzerlandPin
Summit!

Filled with a sense of accomplishment, I began the rapid descent to Saint Ursanne, but now the sun was really beating down. My feet were tired, sweaty, and I could feel every single blister. I fought through the pain, and I walked as fast as possible.

Finally, the end of the trail was in sight and I could see Saint Ursanne! Of course, the 66 du Doubs includes the 1km to the train station, so I was not entirely finished.

I bought a celebratory beer at the grocery store in Saint Ursanne and walked to the train station for the true end.

As I sat on the train back to Basel, I realized that I desperately needed a shower. But all kidding aside, I spent the hour reflecting on time hiking in Switzerland. I had once gone hiking every weekend when I lived in Zurich. I had not realized how much I had missed hiking in Switzerland. The 66 du Doubs was challenging, but I am glad I had the opportunity to return and hike this beautiful trail.

My Experience Hiking Switzerland’s Best Unknown Trail – The 66 du Doubs

Stunning Landscapes while Hiking 66 du Doubs in SwitzerlandPinPin
Beautiful Landscapes!

Hiking in Switzerland is and has always been something I love to do. The trails are pristine, the scenery is beautiful, and there is just this sense of tranquility. I, personally, prefer hiking in September outside the tourist season when the temperature is cooler and the weather is still nice.

The 66 du Doubs is one of the lesser-known hikes and it was difficult to find any helpful information, so hopefully, you found the blog post useful. Below I list useful tips and tricks for hiking in Switzerland and hiking the 66 du Doubs.

Practical Information

The 66 du Doubs is a 3-4 day hike beginning and ending in Saint Ursanne.

Location: Saint Ursanne is located in Jura Switzerland – 1 hour by train from Basel.

Distance: 66 km

Time: Roughly 20 hours

Below is a breakdown of the 66 du Doubs hike. The numbers in parentheses are altitudes.

Day 1: St-Ursanne (492m) → Sur La Croix (789) → Grands Prés (900m) → Seleute (640m) (estimated time: 2h15) → Valbert (757m) → Montvoi (711m) → La Combe (531m) → La Motte (430m, Caution: it is easy to miss the sign here) → Ocourt (423m) (estimated time: 2h35)

Day 2: Ocourt (423m) →Montpalais (737m) → Eqipuerez (878m) (estimated time: 1h35) → Le Chaufour (842m) → Pâture d’Amont (850m) → Lobchez (483m) → Pt. (563m, this is just another hill you will need to cross) → Soubey (476m) (estimated time: 2h40)

Day 3: Soubey (476m) → Le Champois (485m) →La Réchesse (469m) → Chervillers (462m) → Epauvillers (696m) (estimated time: 2h15) → Montenol (692m) → La Planche (668m) → Ravines (510m) → Pont de Ravines (440m) (estimated time: 2h15)

Day 4: Pont de Ravines (440m) → Montmelon Dessus (594m) → Chez Danville (884m) → Chez Basuel 910m → Haut de la Montagne (929m, this is the hightest point of the hike) → La Caquerelle (832m) → Les Malettes (799m) → Montremay (900m) → Outremont (757m) → St. Ursanne (438m, town) → St. Ursanne Gare (492m, train station) (estimated time: 5h15)

Tips for Hiking the 66 du Doubs

1. Pack light. The trail is full of rapid ascents and descents, plus you will need to carry your own food and camping equipment.

2. Bring a tent. Don’t count on hotels or hostels. Most are closed or have shut-down, and there is only one hotel in Soubey (reservations required).

3. Grocery store in Soubey has very specific hours: Closed: Thursday; Sunday: 9:00-12:00; Monday: 8:30-12:00; Tuesday/Wednesday/Saturday: 8:30-12 and 15:00-18:00.

4. Only two campsites are open. Ocourt-Moulin du Doubs and Soubey-across the street from Hotel du Cerf. Both have hot showers (1 CHF for 5 min).

5. Maps can be purchased by emailing info@juratourisme.ch.

6. Download SBB mobile. This is a mobile app for trains in Switzerland. There are plenty of discounts on train tickets that you will not find if you purchase directly at the station.

7. Villages/towns with access to free clean water include: Saint Ursanne, Ocourt, Soubey, Montmelon Dessus, and Epauvillers.

8. Hike can be done in both directions. I found Saint Ursanne→Occourt→Soubey→Pont de Ravines→Saint Ursanne less challenging than the reverse direction.

9. Download maps.me and mark all the main stops. There are a lot of different hikes in this area and it can sometimes be confusing.

10. There is a large grocery store in Saint Ursanne. In case you need last-minute supplies.

11. Always look for the 66 du Doubs logo. If you get lost, look for this sign, and retrace your steps until you find the logo.

12. Watch out for goats and cows. During the hike, you will walk through fields with free-roaming goats and cows. Sometimes they can be curious, and follow you for quite a while.

13. Electric fences. You will have to cross areas that have electric fences. Look carefully for the handle before touching any cords.

Travel Video! Hiking the 66 du Doubs in Switzerland

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