Next time you’re driving on Route 1 along the north shore of Lake Geneva from Geneva to Lausanne, take a moment to look away from the lake and Alps out the passenger side – I know it’s hard – and look out the driver’s side window. Those are the Jura Mountains. The Jura Mountains are best known for two reasons. First, the Jurassic geological period takes its name from the Jura Mountains because limestone strata from the period (about 200 million years ago to 150 million years ago, give or take a couple million years) were first identified there. Second, the Jura Mountains offer some of the best cross-country skiing on the planet. Andrew Brenner, writing for the New York Times Travel section in 2014 described the area like this:
Imagine all the cross country ski trails in New England crammed into an area slightly smaller than New Hampshire. Now raise the base elevation to a plateau of 3,500 feet. Then bulldoze a 10-foot wide perfectly groomed boulevard of a cross country ski trail… and you’ve got something on par with the Nordic haven that is the Jura.>/em>
The Jura Mountains straddle the France-Swiss border and the arterial ski trail running from one end to the other – about 100 miles – is called the Grande Traversée du Jura. A network of over 2,100 miles of beautifully maintained cross country ski trails weaves along its entire length from town to town. We started our ski in a town called Les Rousses, which can be seen by clicking on the adjacent map, which will enlarge it. This map shows only about 20% of the entire trail network.
Of course the best way to experience the thrill and beauty of cross country skiing in the Jura is by getting out and doing it. Since that option might not be immediately available, I’ll propose a second best way: by watching me do it. This first video shows a little bit of the surrounding view, including La Dole, one of the highest peaks in the Jura, and my favorite day hike that I have written about before.
And in this video, you get a feel for what its like to actually do some skiing. Sort of.