Craving an alfresco outing? For those with a hankering for an outdoor experience that’s especially gratifying; combine a head torch with some hiking boots, throw in an extra jacket, add a pinch of grit and relish the mountain from the inside, out. Here's an insider's look into a must-do hike at Rochers-de-Naye.
Catching the cog railway from Montreux to Rochers-de-Naye is an incredible way to feast on the incredible 360’ views of Lac Léman and her surrounding landscapes. For the adventure epicureans whose appetite calls for a pinch more of an expedition, there’s an alternative trail to follow that will satisfy that craving. While still digesting the glorious views from the top of Rochers-de-Naye, it’s possible to enter the belly of the mountain on the descent and enjoy a taste of the subterranean.
The experience can start either at the Jaman train station or the Restaurant de Manoire. There’s a path that winds its way up past Col de Bonaudon, signposted for Grottes de Naye, and heads up over a ridge and across a rocky base, before scaling the side of the mountain via an iron staircase. The caves are signposted on the way up, but should be ignored for now (saving the best till later) and the path continues to the summit via Chaux de Naye. There’s a restaurant a short stretch away, offering the chance for a brief pause to savor the stunning scenery and some actual refreshment (if required) before the mountain serves up its final course: the descent.
Following the same path down, there’s a left turn signposting ‘Les Grottes de Naye’. Here, the extra jacket and head torch should be donned before stepping underground. At first, the cave feels quite roomy, like the whole mountain could be hollow. However, heading deeper into the belly of the mountain gets drafty, drippy, and dark. The way through is well marked, easy to follow (flashlight essential) and there are handrails, chains, and ladders in place to offer some stability against the slippery terrain.
For those with a distaste for tight squeezes, there may be a few pressing moments. At its most compact section, crouching (but not crawling) is required. The tell-tale signs that a fellow hiker has partaken of the subterrestrial path are hands and a backside (and sometimes faces) covered in the sand-colored cave clay. The tightest segment is towards the exit where the expanding daylight comes as sweet relief. The path then re-joins the way back, where the rest of the hike can be enjoyed by taking pride in having climbed partway down a mountain via its insides.
So, the next time the mountains are calling, head up to Rochers-de-Naye, and tackle the cave section–because sometimes these mountains need to be experienced both inside & out.
How to get there:
Parking at the Restaurant de Manoire,
From Jaman station
Or start at Rochers de Naye station and hike down to Jaman.
As with any hike in the mountains, check the weather before heading out. The cave is open to hikers from June to October and is probably not suitable for small children (under 7).