The Nouailles Gorges and the Source of the Loue

From the old village of Mouthier, you will climb up to the tourism hotspot Franche-Comté , one of the major natural sites of Doubs: the Source of the Loue and up the Nouailles Gorges. You will overlook its emerald green waters interspersed with rapids and waterfalls, climbing and a scenic, physically demanding trail, perhaps surprising along the way some old forgers printing counterfeit money in the shade of caves and returning by the crest of cliffs and lookout points overlooking the valley.

Technical sheet
No. 4098822
A Mouthier-Haute-Pierre walk posted on 22/09/13 by LB_Neil. Update : 11/02/20
Calculated time Calculated time: 5h55[?]
Distance Distance : 14.89km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 576m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 576m
Highest point Highest point : 782m
Lowest point Lowest point : 384m
Difficult Difficulty : Difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Jura mountains
Location Location : Mouthier-Haute-Pierre (25920)
Starting point Starting point : N 47.034688° / E 6.284181°
Download : -


(S) Park your car in Mouthier-Haute-Pierre, at the Syratus waterfall car park. For access, coming from Besançon by the D67, 200 metres before the entrance to the village, take the small road on the right which joins the edge of Loue (Rue de la Marsotte, Rue du Pont, Rue des Guenbards and finally Chemin des Moulins to where it ends in a cul-de-sac.

Right out of your car, you will already have views of the charming little Syratus waterfalls on your left. To begin the hike, locate the circuit of the Upper Valley of the Loue (sign and Yellow-Blue markings), in the direction of "Passerelle Entre-Roche, Grotte de Baume Archée". The well paved road climbs the hill in an S shape and after 700 metres cuts across a paved road to the power plant.

(1) Cross it, continuing to climb (sign "Haute Vallée de la Loue") guided by the markers. After 200 metres, in a turn, leave the path as it continues to climb up, continuing straight on a path that will lead you to the Cave of Counterfeiters (‘’la Grotte des Faux Monnayeurs’’), at an opening in the vertical wall of rock. Arrive at signs for "Source du Pontet, Source de la Loue" inviting you to head down. Instead, go straight back to a pretty rocky section. After it, turn left at a small iron ladder that leads to the Cave. After taking the time for a visit, turn back and after about one hundred metres follow the sign in the direction of "Source du Pontet, Source de la Loue".

(2) After heading down for 200 metres, at a further fork in the trail marked with a sign, take the left path down to Source du Pontet and its small waterfalls, embedded in the rock. When the flow rate is low, it would appear that back of the cave is accessible. I have not checked, so be careful! Its wooded surroundings constituted the framework of the “Remise au Chevreuil" of Courbet. Le Pontet meets her big sister, the Loue - do the same in heading back by turning left at the previous sign.
The first bridge takes you across the Pontet, a second spans the Loue.

(3) On the other side, a bench invites you to take some rest. A signpost indicates the direction to the left of the source of the Loue. You then head up the Nouailles Gorges. Its particularly twisty route can be seen from outcrops. The emerald green Loue is interrupted by rapids and waterfalls, the most noteworthy is the "Grand Saut". Be careful, the rocky trail can be slippery in wet weather. For safety reasons due to the formation of ice patches along the way, the town of Mouthier discourages hiking in winter. Up on the overhang while heading up and down with many views, the trail makes a demanding climb to the source. Warning!: The automatic opening of the dam creates sudden swells and rapidly rising waters, so it is dangerous to venture in the vicinity of dam gates and park on the shores, islands and gravel banks.

(4) You arrive at the dam that stores a reserve of potential energy for use at any time. The captured water feeds the Mouthier power plant located below the Pontet waterfall.

(5) Shortly after the dam, you reach the tourism hotspot of Franche-Comté, one of the major natural sites of Doubs: the source of the Loue. Then go up the concrete path that passes in front of the coffee shop ‘Le Chalet de la Loue'. Enter the car park following the sign for Haute Vallée de la Loue - Belvedere de Renédale. At the end of the car park, take Rue de la Combe with its yellow-red markings and immediately after a do not enter sign, head up following the direction indicated by the sign on a little wooden staircase on the hillside (circuit no. 10).

(6) The path goes straight into the woods. You climb up to the edge of the woods, leading to meadows and a paved road vanishes in the field. You will find further signs on the right and follow in the direction of "Circuit Haute Vallée de la Loue - Belvédère de Renédale" on a footpath (yellow-red markings) which runs along the edge of the forest and the edge of the cliffs (take care!)

At about 1.5 km the trail crosses a wider road, a logging road. You cross it and continue along the narrow path that winds through the forest. When in doubt, do not take a path that goes dangerously close to the cliffs.

The trail gathers together at a gravel road, continue straight (yellow-red or yellow-blue markings).
At a sign for the ONF no. 6, somewhat hidden behind a tree, you will find a new signpost and continue to follow the direction of the Renédale view point to the right, leaving the paved road that continues straight. At 200 meters, roughly the distance from the cliff edge, turn left continuing along the cliffs overlooking the Nouailles Gorges. The trail reaches a wider gravel path at a sign, turn right here in the direction of the viewpoints that you will soon reach.

(7) Viewpoints overlooking the Nouailles Gorges, a deep and winding canyon in the heart of the limestone range, with arid ridges and rocky cliffs not to mention diverse flora.

(8) About a kilometre from the lookout point, the trail opens into a small clearing and crosses it. At its end, find a signpost and signs, take the left circuit no. 10 Belvédère du Moine continuing along the edge of the cliffs. Follow the directions of the marker posts, avoiding paths struck through with a cross.

(9) You reach a wider paved path, still with a pole and sign on the right. Head towards the hostel. Fifty metres further on, you will reach another stone path that you will follow to the left. The path leads in front of the hostel, you climb to the right towards the Moine de la Vallée lookout point.

(10) Two viewpoints: one to the right over the Nouailles Gorges and another to the left over Mouthier-Haute-Pierre, Roche de Haute-Pierre and the Loue valley towards Ornans. Return to the hostel! At a lamppost, go down the left path by which we arrived, in the direction of Lods. After 300 m, again at the fork, go down to the left towards Mouthier. Caution: the road is stony and the stones shift underfoot (Yellow-Blue markings).

(11) At 1.5 km from the hostel, near the cliffs at a left turn of the road and a sign for Le Moine de la Vallée - Renédale, you can carefully take a small path on the right to reach a view (with no safety barriers etc. so be careful!) from Petit Roche over the village of Mouthier and the gorges. Retrace your steps and continue the descent to a concrete road that descends sharply to the right. Be attentive, despite the grooves, the road is very slippery in wet weather.

(12) You get to Mouthier. Take time to check out the old houses and fountains. After the bridge, turn right into the street and walk along the Loue Guenbards to the car park.

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 404m
1 : km 0.67 - alt. 457m - Electrical substation
2 : km 1.26 - alt. 457m - Counterfeiters' Cave and the Source of the Pontet
3 : km 1.52 - alt. 420m - Bench
4 : km 4.66 - alt. 550m - Dam
5 : km 4.89 - alt. 564m - Source de la Loue
6 : km 5.62 - alt. 604m - Hostel car park
7 : km 8.5 - alt. 728m - Renédale lookout point
8 : km 9.18 - alt. 749m - Malchenaux
9 : km 9.83 - alt. 760m - Stony path
10 : km 10.53 - alt. 755m - Moine de la Vallée
11 : km 11.89 - alt. 626m - Natural lookout point at Petit Roche
12 : km 13.94 - alt. 390m - Mouthier
D/A : km 14.89 - alt. 404m

Useful Information

Some sections are slippery, good shoes are required. Be careful, the rocky trail can be slippery in wet weather. For safety reasons due to the formation of ice patches along the way, the town of Mouthier discourages hiking in winter.

At the point (11) a team was creating a new trail when I passed: please contact me if I need to amend the specification.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

‘’"The river rushes over an imposing mass of rocks, which form a huge canopy under which it grinds. It leaps cascading from rock to rock. This is a waterfall has been broken by a thousand small incidents: the Loue is a river that rushes, falling in all its grandeur, in all its beauty, bubbling in three huge jets onto huge, crushed blocks held captive and overcome, escaping in clouds of wet dust, or in countless waterfalls. Something that is particular to this display is that roils in every direction by I know not what excess of emotion. The eye disorder, ear is frightened, thinking gets tired and goes out. On the mountain above the towering beauties, all is silence.”’’ Charles Nodier

The Source of the Loue is a resurgence of Doubs, discovered in August 1901 during the fire at the Pernod de Pontarlier factory struck by lightning ion 11 August 1901. As these factories were producing highly flammable absinthe, the fire-fighters poured 600,000 litres of spirits into the drains. Two days later, they found traces of wormwood and golden yellow colour with green hues in the Loue. The resurgence comes back up, springing from the wall of the cliff at an imposing rocky cirque. In 1780 two relatively large water mills were to be found here, and since in 1811 they had thirty employees. The Maison de la Source is open every day from 1 July to 31 August from 10:30 to 18:30 with its Information Point and the screening of the film “Pays Courbet, Pays d’Artiste", which allows you to understand the geology of the place and the painter's relationship with the region.

The Counterfeiters’ Cave (2) owes its name to the many Gallic coins but also those from later periods, which were discovered alongside pottery, brooches and axes. It is also claimed that the hole here, once used as a shelter during the Ten Years’ War, has become the hideout of a band of counterfeiters.

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