For 30 years, our editor Roland Hügi has been exploring Switzerland on two wheels. Note to keen cyclists and mountain bikers: he shares with us his favourite routes throughout the whole country. From the Jura to Engadin, he unveils places of particular beauty and gives tips for inspiration.
Riding through cherry trees
In summer, the cherries in this area are resplendent in red, yellow and black on the many trees lining the route. That this canton, officially termed Basel-Landschaft, is Switzerland's chief cherry-growing area can be experienced first-hand on a cycling tour through the Oberbaselbiet region. The tour starts at Unter-Hauenstein, the pass between the cantons of Solothurn and Basel-Landschaft. Before the motorway tunnel was bored through the mountain, there were central north-south connections for road traffic. But, from the very first metres, it’s clear that this is no easy ride – unless you happen to have an e-bike. By the way, an e-bike is highly recommended as the route is a long series of uphills and downhills.
Cycling tour in the Baselbiet region
Route length: 40 kilometres
Ascent: 1,080 metres
Duration: 3 hours
Noteworthy: the tour is also suitable for e-bikes. There is just one short stretch of about 300 metres immediately before the Berghaus Oberbelchen where inexperienced cyclists are advised to walk.
Entire route to download
The GPX file can easily be opened on Google Earth, using apps like SwitzerlandMobility, Komoot, Outdooractive, the SAC tour website or on your smartwatch (e.g. Polar, Garmin, Suunto, etc).
The basis for planning the tour was the bike map (no. 4, Basel/Basel-Landschaft) at a scale of 1 : 60,000 from Kümmerly + Frey. In addition to all official SwitzerlandMobility routes (nationwide cycling and biking routes), the map also contains numerous VCS (Swiss Association for Transport and Environment) route recommendations on mostly low-traffic roads.
Little traffic, vast fields
With a few exceptions, the effort required for this tour is compensated by quiet roads that run through vast fields, meadows and cherry orchards – and through the small, often pretty villages that are usually located in the valleys. Only the birds of prey gliding gently through the air provide an acoustic diversion. On arriving in Diegten you will suddenly feel you've been thrust back to civilisation. Here, the tour leads under the A2 motorway, but the sound of traffic is soon replaced by the sweet sounds of nature again.
After the historic village of Waldenburg, where the valley becomes ever narrower, the route climbs up the Ober-Hauenstein – a strategically important north-south connection generations ago – in a very pleasant gradient this time. Shortly after the top of the pass, in Langenbruck (formerly a health resort and the highest municipality in the canton of Basel-Landschaft), there is a turnoff towards Schönthal, which is perhaps where the most beautiful section of the tour begins. Running alongside a brook, the narrow and particularly quiet road leads down into the valley where, after a few kilometres, the 12th century Schönthal monastery – once a refuge for Benedictine nuns – is set. The monastery today has a large farm shop.
Admire the Romanesque walls
Take a moment’s break at this historic site to soak up the feel of these old Romanesque walls. A break at this time is also good before embarking on the tour's pièce de résistance: the ride towards the Chilchzimmersattel at the foot of the Belchenfluh. Once you’ve reached the top, the worst is over. A short stretch on a gravel path – inexperienced cyclists may have to walk a few paces here – leads to Challhöchi, the border "pass" between the cantons of Basel-Landschaft and Solothurn. From here on, you can let your legs dangle and sweat dry off all the way down to where you started.