After several visits to medieval towns and abbeys we decided to spend a day exploring some of the natural scenery. The Michelin Green Guides are a wonderful resource for local trips and we found a circuit that would lead us to several short hikes to waterfalls and similar destinations in the Jura Mountains. The Jura — for which the Jurassic Era was named — are old mountains — those of us who have hiked in the Rockies, Alps and Cascades think of them as hills and our hiking choices were pleasant rambles.
We started our circuit of hiking sites from Champagnole. We were really happy to have the GPS which came on our rental without additional fee or reservation. We simply reset the target to each little village near the trail heads for our next mini hike on the circuit.
Our first destination was to be a hike into a steep canyon to view a series of waterfalls, the Cascade de la Billaude. Alas we were met by a locked gate and warning signs that the trail was unsafe and closed.There was an overlook, but that’s not really the same.The series of waterfalls stretches far up the valley.We were sorry not to be able to hike along the falls.
Next stop was the Gorges de la Languette, a sort of slot canyon for much of its length which offered a pleasant hike up to a power station fueled by a waterfall.
At some points the canyon was just a couple of meters across; this is a view down to the stream from a bridge at the trail head.As we walked up along the canyon towards a series of waterfalls, we could hear what sounds like carillons or unusually pretty wind chimes.At the top of the final climb we followed the music down the road and discovered its source; not the music of the spheres but the music of the cows. Each cow had a differently toned bell and it was quite beautiful to listen to as they moved about and grazed.A close up of a musical Montbeliarde.
We had once visited the Fontaine de Vaucluse source of the Sorque which arises in this amazing spring in a cave in Provence, so when we noted that there were sources of several rivers in the area we chose one on our path — the source of the Ain. But before coming to the source we passed by a site called the Perte de l’Ain or ‘Loss of the Ain’, a spot where the Ain river briefly disappears and then reappears. This youtube shows the path of this part of the Ain http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z6uqgj6SOo
Then it was on to the source of the Ain. The hike in is a little over a Km through a pleasant forest. The source is a deep rather evil looking cave. During high water, the water flows from the mouth into the bed of the river, but during dry seasons it can be so scant that braver souls have been known to hike up into the cavern. It was very dried out when we were there although not dry enough to hike into (as if we would) and the river bed near the source was dried out and creepy, filled with grey, black fungusy looking growths. This child was playing with the fungusy rocks while her father and brothers explored the river bed looking for the current ‘source’, presumably springs further along the bed.After visiting the source, we were at the end of our Jura Mountain circuit and so drove back towards Semur -en -Auxois through fields of sunflowers. In the spring fields are glorious with red poppies; in the fall, it is sunflowers. Burgundy is a beautiful place for road tripping.