Wonderful summer walks in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy
Madonna di Campiglio is a small mountain resort nestled beneath the Brenta Dolomites in the Trentino region of northern Italy. Peaks and valleys, lakes and rivers provide countless opportunities for hikers of all skill levels to enjoy stunning natural scenery.
This landscape is naturally divided into five different areas, all cleverly connected by gondolas, roads and paths. Walkers can easily pass between these areas by purchasing the Dolomeet Guest Card and requesting the Trentino Guest Card at your hotel.
Pradalago, Cinque Laghi, Spinale and Grosté are the four peaks that rise above Madonna di Campiglio. The top of each peak can be reached by cable car (unlimited use with the Trentino Guest Card). Vallesinella is a wooded valley through which a tributary of the Sarca River crashes down spectacular waterfalls along its path. This valley is within walking distance of the town but is served by a regular bus (free with the Trentino Guest Card) which takes walkers to the most interesting places.
The Tour of Campiglio
Let’s start with the Giro di Campiglio. This circular path winds through the tree-covered slopes above Madonna di Campiglio and has several access points from the town.
It’s a walk in itself, offering great views of the city below and the mountains above. The walking links that start from this path are well marked and clearly indicated on the walking map available at the tourist office in the town centre.
Walk on Pradalago to Madonna di Campiglio
There are two ways to reach the top of Pradalago, by gondola and on foot. The gondola rises at the end of town and the main trail starts from the Giro di Campiglio. It is an easy and clear path with some steep passages.
Upon arrival at the summit, walkers have several options – heading to Lago Nambino (a steep climb followed by a steep descent) or the easier path to Lago Malghette. After lunch by this lake, the only way back is on foot, but it is downhill for most of the way back to town.
Or take a break at Ristorante Viviani and enjoy the view from their large terrace while deciding where to go next. If that’s enough to walk for a day, take the gondola back down to town.
Walk the Cinque Laghi (Five Lakes) in Madonna di Campiglio
While there is a path from town to the top of Cinque Laghi, I would only recommend it for the most enduring walkers as it is long, steep and uphill the whole way. Take the gondola then follow the path behind Ristorante Cinque Laghi to Lago Ritorto. This narrow path skirts a steep slope with fabulous views of the valley below.
Lago Ritorto is the first lake on the five lakes walk which begins with a challenging climb to a ridge high above the lake. The walk passes four more lakes before descending to the last lake, Lago Nambino.
It takes at least six hours and the only places to cool off are at the start and end of the walk, so good walkers are recommended to only pack plenty of water and snacks. I felt a great sense of accomplishment completing this walk – it’s challenging but possible for reasonably experienced walkers.
The other alternatives from Lago Ritorto are to take the path down into the valley to Malga Ritorto (farm and restaurant), the farm visible from the lake.
From the malga (farm) there is a path or tourist train to Patascoss (self-service cafe) and from there various paths into town – either straight or an easier path to the town via Lake Nambino.
Of course, there is always the option of retracing your steps to the cabin lift, descending into the city and having a coffee outside a cafe in the main square.
Walk on Spinale in Madonna di Campiglio
Spinale also has a path to its peak. Go there if you’re looking for a challenge, but the easiest way is to use the elevator in the cabin. Trails from the summit take walkers in all directions, including the summit of Pic Grosté, halfway up this peak, down to Madonna di Campiglio or into the Vallesinella valley.
My favorite is the path from Spinale to Ristorante Boch halfway up Grosté mountain. This easy path crosses a vast alpine meadow encircled by the Brenta Dolomites and carpeted with a myriad of wildflowers. Listen to the piercing cry of a marmot warning its clan that humans are approaching. And the soft ringing of the cowbells of the cattle wandering in these rich summer pastures. A very pleasant walk for walkers of all levels.
Boch is ideally located at the middle station of the Grosté gondola for those who don’t want to walk back to town. Otherwise it’s an easy descent to the bottom of the Grosté gondola and from there take the path through Grotte for a shortcut to town (left under the gondola just before the lift station).
Walk on Grosté to Madonna di Campiglio
Grosté is the highest peak above Madonna di Campiglio and accessible by a two-level gondola – or a very long climb. There are many options from this peak, including the path to Rifugio Tuckett, which houses a small museum dedicated to English walker Roger Tuckett, a keen enthusiast of this area.
The Rifugio is, essentially, a hideaway in the mountains but many have turned into good quality restaurants. From Tuckett there are two options, the path to Casinei or the more difficult path to Rifugio Brentei.
The scree atop Grosté is dotted with alpine flowers – miniature versions of those that populate the mountain pastures. Walk through this scree and marvel at the delicate beauty of these tiny flowers before descending to the middle station – on foot or by gondola.
Stroll through Vallesinella to Madonna di Campiglio
This is one of the most popular walks in the area and is best done on a weekday when the locals are at work. Vallesinella has three waterfalls but most walkers focus on the first two as the third one, Cascata di Sotto is a bit out of the way but well signposted for those who have time to make the detour. For me, the most impressive of the three is the middle waterfall, Cascata di Mezzo. It is reached by a pretty path that branches off from the Giro di Campiglio and winds through a massive leafy wood.
There are two other alternative routes, the shuttle from the city center (free with the Trentino Guest Card but check the ‘green days’) or a long walk on the road in the valley. The shuttle stops in a large car park above the Cascata di Mezzo from where a path starts that goes down to this waterfall. There is also a path through the woods from the road leading to it.
The path that climbs next to the Cascata Mezzo comes out just below a large car park. Cross this car park to reach the Chemin de la Cascate Alte (opposite the Rifugio Vallesinella). Sections of this pretty trail follow the tributary of the Sarca River, which eventually empties into Lake Garda.
There are so many of these tributaries that they don’t have individual names. This is my favorite section – water flows quietly across small plains then crashes over small rocky precipices. It emerges under the long drop of water known as Cascate Alte.
There is a winding path next to the Cascate Alte and it’s not as difficult as it looks. But the summit alternatives (and there are plenty of them, including some serious walks and climbs) all involve a long walk apart from a nice shorter path, but this has a steep stony section at the start so only recommended for walkers wearing walking shoes and using pole walking.
It is not marked but a well marked path to the left of the main path indicates the start. I wouldn’t recommend going back down the Cascate Alte side but that’s another alternative. The easiest alternative is to retrace your steps to Rifugio Vallesinella and take a break there before returning to town either by shuttle bus or an easy descent on the road.
STAY: Hotel Lorenzetti – perfectly located for hiking trails and ski resorts.
The Dolomeet Guest Card allows free or discounted access to some museums, castles and cultural sites in Trentino as well as the use of public transport on Trentino
The Trentino Guest Card is available from your hotel and provides access to local savings.