A great 2 hour round trip in the Basel area. Basel, Switzerland sit nestled on the Rhine between the Black Forest and the Jura Mountains. The valley base altitude is about 250 meters with the highest peaks at about 1000 meters. This makes for great climbing and descending.
Gempen/Schartenflue is one of the best all around rides in Basel. Within 15 mintues on bike from nearly anywhere in the area you can be at the trailhead in Munchenbstein- very close to the Birs River trails.
In ~8KM you travel on fire roads (80%), tough single track (10%) and limited trafiic road (10%). The vertical is from 280m at base to 760m at the top. It is a steady rise of about 60 meters per KM with a 3 sections hiting the 120m per KM range for no more than 500M.
Take the ASPRAIN trail until it splits, keep left (Do Not Follow The Mountain Bike Sign)! As you hit the high farmland from the woods, take the hiking trail on your right through the edge of the woods. This is a great signle track for about 600M. It dead ends, take trail to right back into woods and next left and then a right and a left at Rothallen (marked 405m).
Stay on the main upward trail. You will pass many side trails but will see red mountain bike signs to GEMPEN. From the fire road trail you will see a Gempen sign that takes right, you onto a singletrack. This is a rocky riverbed of about 300M (40M vert.)that takes you to paved road. Take a right and then a left on the main road up to Schonmatt. From Schonmatt take the paved road 1KM through cherry orchards to the farm on the high end of the meadow (Stollen). Ride straight through the Farm on the paved road (do not take the car road left). Take the middle dirt road (not the left steep one and not the lower one). After about 50M the road goes vertical, but there is a single track to the right. Take IT! Great single track for 500M 50M vert. At the top find the trail to the right which winds its way up to the very top of the highest point. This is Schartenflue, but known by the locals as Gempenturm (Gempen Tower).
Best of all, there is civilization among the wilderness, with Bergwertschaft Schonmatt at 590 meters, and Gempenturm Restuartant at the top. Great food and drink, sure to please a carb starved rider. The top? These are some of the best views of the Jura Mountains and Rhine valley in Basel.
Total time to top is between 1 hour and 1:30 depending on your level. All paths to the west lead down! (So do the ones to the east, but its the Liestal Valley so it will take you a bit longer to trek back to Basel.)