The Creux de Van is a natural geological feature in the Jura Mountains in western Switzerland. The cliff face was created by melting glacial water and is an impressive 1,400m wide and over 150m deep. The views from the top are beautiful and it can be a good place for spotting Chamois and Ibex. The canyon is part of a nature preserve with many good hiking opportunities.
After a night of stealthy camping a few kilometers away we started our hike from the Restaurant Le Soliat. It was still fairly early in the morning when we arrived at the canyon rim and since we had just woken up from a (surprisingly COLD) night in our car we decided it was time for some breakfast. Nothing fancy.. just some Emmi* chocolate milk, yogurt and a granola bar.
*We scored a delicious haul at the Emmi Factory Outlet Store (hidden inconspicuously in a gas station convenience store) near Bern. Dozens of different types of cheeses, were all about 50% (12CHF/Kilo) compared to the normal retail price. In addition to Cheese we loaded up on a case of individual chocolate milk boxes and some yogurt.
While we were hiking I looked up and saw a tight group of contrails jetting across the sky above us. After about 2 seconds of watching them, multiple sonic booms cracked through the air and echoed across the countryside. They flew together southbound for a few more seconds then separated in different directions. My guess is the aircraft were likely Swiss Air Force F18s out on a training mission.
Le Soliat is a small hill near the cliff edge that provides a 360 degree view of the entire area. On a clear day, which it was for us we could see the alps strung across the horizon to the east. The Bernese Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau peaks all the way south to Mount Blanc was visible.
We utilized the parking available next to the Restaurant Le Soliat (large grass field parking at the end of the La Baronne road). We happened to be there on a weekday morning in May so there was only a few other cars there. From the restaurant you walk across a large field along a fence line until you reach the stone wall. The stone wall is only a few meters from the cliff face and lines most of the canyon rim. We took our time... ate breakfast on the cliff face... stopped multiple times just to enjoys the views... and enjoy the chorus of cow bells coming from the pasture.
The loop shown is probably less than 2km total and is easy walking unless you trip and fall off the cliff. Because we took our time and enjoyed the views we ended up taking about 2.5hrs to walk the short loop. After returning to the car we headed down to the valley for our next walk of the day... the Saut du Brot.
Val de Travers Loop
An alternate option for a longer hike is to do the round trip loop starting from the Noiraigue train station. This hike is 14km long and will take you up from the valley floor around the entire canyon rim and back to your same starting point. For more information CLICK HERE.
After our hike along the top of the rim and up to Le Soliat and back to the Restaurant Le Soliat parking lot, we drove down to the town of Noiraigue to hike through Saut du Brot.