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Hairpin turn: Wikis


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Road D2204 ascends to the Col de Braus using hairpin bends in the Alpes Maritimes in the French Alps (43°41′58″N 7°22′50″E / 43.69944°N 7.38056°E / 43.69944; 7.38056)
The type of hair pin (bobby pin) from which a 'hairpin turn' takes its name.
Some of the 48 hairpin turns near the top of the northern ramp of the Stelvio Pass in Italy.
Hairpin turn on the Mont Ventoux in France
One of the most famous NASCAR tracks with hairpin turns was the old Riverside International Raceway in Riverside, California.

A hairpin turn (also hairpin bend, hairpin corner, etc.), named for its resemblance to a hairpin/bobby pin, is a bend in a road with a very acute inner angle, making it necessary for an oncoming vehicle to turn almost 180° to continue on the road. Such turns in ramps and trails may be called switchbacks in American English, by analogy with switchback railways. In British English 'switchback' is more likely to refer to a heavily undulating road—a use extended from the rollercoaster and the other type of switchback railway.

Hairpin turns are often built when a route climbs up or down a steep slope, so that it can travel mostly across the slope with only moderate steepness, and are often arrayed in a zigzag pattern. Highways with repeating hairpin turns allow easier, safer ascents and descents of mountainous terrain than a direct, steep climb and descent, at the price of greater distances of travel. Highways of this style are also generally less costly to build and maintain than highways with tunnels.

On occasion, the road may loop completely, using a tunnel or bridge to cross itself (example on Reunion Island: 21°10′52″S 55°27′17″E / 21.18111°S 55.45472°E / -21.18111; 55.45472).

In trail building, an alternative to switchbacks is the stairway.


Roads with hairpin turns

Some roads with switchbacks (hairpin turns) include:





  • Mexican Autopista 95D has a famous hairpin turn known as "La Pera" (The Pear), due to its loose resemblance with that fruit's shape.



  • The World War II-era Burma Road, constructed over the rugged terrain between the (then) British colony of Burma and China has many hairpin curves to accommodate traffic to supply China, then otherwise isolated by sea and land.
  • In Japan, there is the known Nikkō Irohazaka, a 1-way switchback mountain road (of course there are 2 separate roads; up and down), located at Nikko, Tochigi. This road plays a significant role in Japanese history: The route was popular with Buddhist pilgrims on their way to Lake Chuzenji, which is at the top of the forested hill that this road climbs. There are 48 hairpin turns, each labeled with one of the 48 characters in the Japanese alphabet: while the narrow road has been modernized over the years, care has been taken to keep the number of curves constant. Iroha-Zaka ascends more than 1,300 feet.
  • In Macau, a part of the Guia Circuit is a hairpin turn.
  • In India, the Gata Loops, a part of the route from Manali to Leh.



Grand Hotel Hairpin in Circuit de Monaco.
A WRC car taking a hairpin turn during 2007 Rallye Deutschland.
  • Grand Hotel Hairpin is the slowest turn in Formula One
  • Many venues used for motor racing incorporate hairpin turns in the racecourse even if the terrain is relatively level. In this case the purpose is to provide a greater challenge to the drivers or simply increase the lap length without increasing the area occupied by the track.


If a railway curves back on itself like a hairpin turn, it is called a horseshoe curve. The diameter of the curve, however, is usually much larger, than that of a road hairpin. See this example [1] or Hillclimbing (railway) for other railway ascent methods.


Sections known as hairpins are also found in the slalom discipline of alpine skiing. A hairpin consists of two consecutive vertical or "closed gates" which must be negotiated very quickly. (Three or more consecutive closed gates are known as a flush.)

External links


  1. ^ National Road Authority of Norway
  2. ^ Coronado Trail, Arizona, Driving Tour @ National Geographic Traveler

Simple English

) from which a 'hairpin turn' takes its name.]]

A hairpin turn (also hairpin bend, hairpin corner, or just hirpin), is a very tight corner. It makes a vehicle turn almost 180° to continue on the road. It gets its name for because it looks like to a hairpin or bobby pin. Hairpin turns may be called switchbacks in American English.

Hairpin turns may be built when a road or path climbs up or down a steep slope. This allows the path to travel the slope with a smaller slope. Hairpin turns may be used in race tracks to slow down the race cars after a long, fast straight.

Hairpin turns
Road ascends to the Col de Braus using hairpin bends in the French Alps  
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