Blink, and you might just miss it. Although 1524 metres in altitude, Crêt des Gouilles is more a bump on the Jura landscape than a real mountain, and, being "dwarfed" by its far more impressive nearest neighbours - the Balcon de Jura peaks of Le Chasseron and Petites Roches - it gets overlooked in just about every map and guidebook, and of course by almost every Jura trekker. The peak sits somewhat forgotten and forlorn amid alpine pastures about 200 metres east of the main Jura Crest trail - between Le Chasseron and Petites Roches.
Unless you know it's there (and know what the tiny pile of stones mean .. and really want to tick-off another named Jura peak), you're unlikely to ever find yourself standing atop the "cairn" (like some Jura "twitchers" we know).
Of course, being mid-summer, there were no lifts operating, so (at about 9.45am) we left the car in the spacious car park on Route de Chasseron (1200m), crossed the road to pick-up the walk trail, and then started on our way up the hill. The first kilometre or so of the walk was through luscious, shady forest which helped keep us cool as we sweated our way up the slope. The trail was well marked with the characteristic yellow diamond markers, and we soon found ourselves at the Club Alpine Suisse (CAS) mountain refuge at Le Rocher (1370)
Another about another half-a-kilometre up through the forest, we suddenly reached the Chasseron alpine pasturage, with the Hotel du Chasseron prominent on the horizon about 800 metres ahead of us. True to a sign that we encountered there, the landscape was lush with thick grass and wildflowers, and was putting-on its very best face on this glorious, sunny, summer's day.
We followed a few other day-trippers on the well-trodden walk-trail that led up the hill towards the hotel for a few hundred metres, before we veered-off to the west towards the "summit" of the Crêt des Gouilles. Needless to say, no-one else was going in our direction, and there were no footsteps, or well-trodden paths, to follow. Once at the Crêt (quite an unspectacular place), we stayed just long enough to take a few photographs - including the obligatory flying-the-Swiss-flag celebratory shot (and appropriately so, with the day being August 1 - the Swiss National Day).
Duly ticked-off, we left the Crêt and wandered over the pasturage to pick-up the Jura Crest Trail between Petites Roches and Le Chasseron. Conveniently, there was one of those particular walk-trail turnstiles directly in our path, so we soon found ourselves back on the main trail.
Now standing on the edge of the Chasseron cliffs, we stood for awhile to take-in the magnificent views - of the Petites Roches to our left (towards the southwest), the Mont de la Maya (west), the Roches Blanches (northwest) and Le Chasseron (northeast). Behind us (to the southeast), lay the Crêt des Gouilles and far, far, far away - on the horizon - Mont Blanc and the arc of the Alps.
- Crêt des Gouilles (No. 41) 1524m
- Le Chasseron (No. 14) 1607m
- Climbing Crêt des Gouilles marked the 50th Jura peak that we have summited since starting the Jura Mountain Rambling "project" in January 2012.