If you’re fond of trekking, hiking and outdoor activities the mountains of Lombardy will amaze you.
The northern area of Lombardy is indeed entirely embraced by a chain of mountains and hills (covering the 40,5% of Lombardy) that make it the perfect spot for excursions among nature, ancient traditions and welcoming mountain huts (that will tempt you with some delicious food too).
Itineraries vary according to your resistance and level of expertise; most of them are accessible to all, even to those who do not usually practice trekking, others are routes recommended only for experienced hikers or mountaineering experts.
Among the favourite routes of all trekking lovers in Lombardy there’s the ‘Trail of Flowers‘, a naturalistic trail among peaks between 2,000 and 3,000 meters above sea level and deep valleys, in the so called ‘Park of the Orobie“, near Bergamo. It adds to the grandeur of the landscape the rare and spectacular blooms – of exceptional beauty and high botanical interest – of numerous endemic flower species.
The woods are one of most eminent characteristics of the park, with forest of beech, spruce fir and pine, larch and grazing lands. Even today, from June until the 1st week of September, farmers move their herds of cows from the valley bottom up to 2,000 meters. The huts perched along the grazing land witness this annual transhumance.
Remarkable is also the presence of the alpine fauna, including species of particular value, such as ptarmigans, golden eagles, roe deer, ibex and various bird species.
In mountaineering terms not challenging, the Trail of Flowers crosses scattered boulders and scree slopes of Val d’Arera, Mandrone and Corna Piana to end up in Branchino Pass. Point of departure or arrival is Rifugio Capanna 2000, a hut at the foot of the massif of Monte Arera (m. 2,512) in a panoramic and sunny position.
From the Rifugio Capanna 2000, the trail crosses the Val d’Arera, at the end of a prairie reaches the Gabbia Pass (2.050 m), descends into the dolomite and beautiful glaciated valley of Mandrone and then goes up to Corna Piana (2.078 m). The trail takes to the Branchino Pass (1.821 m), in view of Lake Branchino, then bends backwards and definitely returns to lower altitudes to Rifugio Capanna 2.000. The overall difference in altitude is of 257 m, the length of 7 km.
The access to the trail is primarily by 3 distinct points:
- from Zambla Alta, near Oltre il Colle, along the path n. 221;
- from Valcanale along the ‘Sentiero delle Orobie‘ (n. 220);
- from Roncobello along path n. 219 up to the Branchino Pass.
The paths of access from Valcanale and Mezzeno together make up the so called ‘Trail of Butterflies‘, well suited for the observation of the invertebrate fauna, particularly Lepidoptera, thanks to the presence of meadows and pastures.
The best time to observe the greatest number of blooms is the month of July; in the summer months you can also climb to the peak dell’Arera through a path on the southern side. It is quite easy and allows you to enjoy stunning views over the surrounding valleys and peaks. Summer is also the best time for observing butterflies.