The woods are ablaze with a myriad of colours, sunsets are more intense, and the air has a crispness to it. Before the snow blankets the peaks of South Tyrol in a serene white, now is the perfect time to embark on beautiful high-altitude hikes. Take it slow, savour the landscape, and follow the gentle rhythm of autumn’s signals. Amid the South Tyrolean mountains, there are numerous leisurely itineraries to explore, each guided by the gentle pace of the season and the whispers of nature.
Amidst chestnut groves and vineyards, earth, and stone
One of the most classic routes, perfect for admiring the vibrant foliage, goes by the name of the Chestnut Path (or Keschtnweg). This trail, spanning a total of 90 kilometres, can be undertaken in stages or in individual sections. Starting near the Novacella Abbey in Bressanone, it meanders through Velturno, also known as the Chestnut Village, and winds through chestnut forests bathed in soft light and cultivated fields until it reaches Runkelstein Castle in Bolzano. The path leads through beautiful vineyards to the Adige Valley, Terlano, and Vilpiano. The itinerary also passes through the Renon Plateau, a captivating place to immerse oneself in slow-paced experiences. Don’t miss the hike to the Earth Pyramids, the tallest in Europe, with their bizarre clay cones and pinnacles, best viewed from Longomoso, Soprabolzano, and Auna di Sotto.
Moving from earth to stone, one of the most fascinating excursions in Val Sarentino is the Stone Men (or Stoanerne Mandln), located near a mountain hut at over 2,000 metres high. These stone figures, facing the Sarentine Alps, are believed to date back to prehistoric times and were used for orientation.
To blend hiking with delectable stops, you can follow the Dolomieu trail, named after the French geologist who discovered a unique limestone rock. It begins at the upper station of Monte Cavallo and extends to the valley floor of Val di Fleres. With each step, you’ll marvel at the colours of autumn and pause at six different mountain huts to savour the typical gray cheese and other local flavours.
Clear, fresh, and sweet waters
To bask in the warmth of the autumn sun’s gentle rays and the shades it paints the forests with, there’s no better place than Monte Sole in Naturno. Aptly named, it acts as a magnet for sunlight, encapsulating all its warmth and energy. It’s a haven for mountain enthusiasts, with three distinct levels and a variety of trails to choose from. The first level begins just above Naturno’s centre and offers walks like Vogeltenn and panoramic trails. Ascending to the second level, you’ll explore trails along ancient channels around Castel Juval, and from the Wallburgweg trail, you can reach the scattered farms on Monte Sole in Naturno and Monte Volpe. The third and final level is where the Alta Via di Merano passes through, a stunning 100-kilometre route with numerous possibilities. Among the most beautiful routes on this lengthy path is one that covers the ten Sopranes lakes, nestled in the heart of the Tessa Group Natural Park, 2,500 metres high in the northwest of Tirolo. This circular hike demands substantial stamina and is best suited for experienced hikers, but it promises thrilling encounters with ibexes and marmots peering from the rocks.
The Resia Lake is another enchanting stop along the way. It’s reachable by car. Park it and explore the 15.3-kilometre path that encircles the lake, offering various perspectives. If you wish, you can even reach the source of the Adige River, which is less than 10 minutes from the village of Resia.
Water also fuels the mills, one of which is still working in Alta Badia. Access it by embarking on the educational and naturalistic Tru di Lersc path, a 5-kilometre walk through larch forests and alpine meadows, between the localities of Rü and Rüdeferia. The mill, recently renovated, operates at the Rüdeferia farm.
Continuing through larch forests, holly groves, and meadows, you’ll suddenly stumble upon a small lake on Monte San Vigilio, above Lana. Getting there is a breeze – simply ascend using the new cable car. Once you reach the upper station at 1,486 metres, you can choose from various paths and strolls leading to the Bagni dell’Orso, Naturno’s mountain hut, and the Black Lake, nestled in the forest.
Author: Chiara Todesco
About the Author:
Born into a family of mountaineers, Chiara Todesco inherited her passion for the peaks as a child. A professional journalist, she has always covered snow and alpine tourism. She currently writes for the newspaper La Stampa, the magazine Scimagazine and collaborates with the website Scigratis.it.
Chiara has published three books, with her beloved peaks as a scenary: Warmth of wool and scent of resin – The mountain of women(MonteRosa Editions); The Ladies of the Peaks – Stories of female mountain guides and the collection of fairy tales for children Winter tales in the Dolomites (both for Trentini Publisher).
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