Walking in Italy's Stelvio National Park
Italy's largest alpine national park
Guidebook to the Stelvio National Park in the Italian Rhaetian Alps. The 38 day walks and hikes described offer a wide variety of routes on well-maintained and signposted paths, linking a network of picturesque villages and hospitable mountain refuges. The Stelvio National Park borders the Dolomites to the east and Switzerland to the west.
Seasonslate June through to October
CentresBormio, S Caterina Valfurva, Sulden, Martell, St Gertraud, Peio, Rabbi, Malè
Difficultysingle day walking routes graded 1 to 3 to allow for beginners as well as experienced walkers ready for peaks. Walks easily extended into multi-day expereinces with overnight stays in alpine refuges
Must Seethe thrilling Stelvio Pass on foot or by bus, the Forno glacier, the Ortler and Cevedale mountains, ibex and chamois in Val Zebrù, Martelltal and Valle di Rabbi, lammergeiers and eagles, traditional Ultental
The wide range of 38 summer day walks in this guide explore the renowned Stelvio National Park in the Italian Rhaetian Alps. Bordering the Dolomites to the east, and Switzerland to the west, the Stelvio is one of the largest protected areas in all of the Alps. Its unspoilt landscape ranges from valley farmland to forested hillsides and alpine meadows, and up to a wilderness of rugged glaciated summits and ridges, the highest of which is Ortler, at 3905m.
The walks, a selection of routes from each of the Stelvio's valleys, are graded for difficulty and each is designed to fit into a single day, be it a couple of hours or a full day out. There is something here for many active holidaymakers, from easy strolls to strenuous climbs to panoramic peaks for experienced walkers. Also included are spectacular non-glacier summits that are accessible to walkers who want to go that bit further. A handful of walks do include brief stretches across rock faces aided by anchored cable. While they are not strictly climbing routes requiring specialist equipment, it is essential to keep away from them in bad weather.
The guidebook also includes plenty of background information on local wildlife and cuisine, as well as planning details such as what to take and dos and don'ts. An extensive appendix also contains accommodation suggestions, including campsites, B&Bs, hotels and mountain huts – known locally as ‘rifugios’.
- 38 routes offering something suitable for all active holidaymakers, from easy strolls to strenuous climbs
- the first English-language guide to the area
- easily accessible from Milan, Verona and Innsbruck
Plants and flowers
Valleys and bases
When to go
Food and drink
What to take
Dos and don’ts
Using this guide
Walk 1 St Gertraud Alm Route
Walk 2 Höchsterhütte Circuit
Walk 3 Fischersee Walk
Walk 4 Rifugio Lago Corvo
Walk 5 Rifugio Dorigoni Tour
Walk 6 Baito Campisolo Route
Walk 7 Cascate di Saent
Walk 8 Ragaiolo Falls and the Venetian Sawmill
Walk 9 Val Cercen
Walk 10 Rifugio Larcher Tour
Walk 11 Monte Vioz
Walk 12 Sentiero dei Tedeschi
Walk 13 Malga Covel and Waterfalls
Walk 14 Forte Barba di Fior Loop
Walk 15 Lago di Pian Palù Circuit
Walk 16 Dosso Tresero
Walk 17 The Forni Sentiero Glaciologico Alto
Walk 18 Valle di Cedèc
Walk 19 Rifugio Casati
Walk 20 Val Zebrù and Rifugio V° Alpini
Walk 21 Lago della Manzina
Walk 22 Santa Caterina to Sant’Antonio
Walk 23 Monte delle Scale
Walk 24 Valle Forcola Traverse
Walk 25 Monte Scorluzzo and Filone dei Möt
Walk 26 Goldseeweg
Walk 27 Berglhütte
Walk 28 Trafoi Waterfalls
Walk 29 Tabarettahütte
Walk 30 Hintergrathütte Tour
Walk 31 Düsseldorferhütte and Kanzel Circuit
Walk 32 Madritschjoch and Hintere Schöntaufspitze
Walk 33 The Martelltal Glacier Trail
Walk 34 Zufritt See and Larchboden Loop
Walk 35 Stallwieshof Traverse
Walk 36 Pedertal
Walk 37 Orgelspitze
Walk 38 Soyalm
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Glossary
Appendix C Accommodation
Appendix D Useful contacts
The Stelvio National Park has an excellent network of paths, each marked with frequently placed red/white paint stripes on prominent fence posts, tree trunks and rocks, and complete with its own distinguishing number. Note that path numbers were recently changed across the park in line with a nationwide campaign to standardise waymarking. The old faded numbers are still visible on the ground in places, although new ones appear on signposts and updated editions of maps so there should be no cause for confusion.
Sketch maps are provided in this guidebook showing the layout of the walk, with essential landmarks. Limitations of space make it impossible to include full details – essential in an emergency – so it is imperative that walkers obtain a commercial map. The Tabacco ‘carta topografica per escursionisti’ 1:25,000 scale series is one of the clearest on the market (www.tabaccoeditrice.com). These maps use a continuous red line for a wide track, while a broken red line indicates a marked path of average difficulty. Red dots denote routes that are exposed, difficult or faint, while red crosses denote aided sections such as cable or ladders as well as full-blooded via ferrata routes.
The relevant sheets are:
- N.08 Ortles-Cevedale Ortlergebiet for Walks 16–22, 25–31
- N.045 Laces-Val Martello-Silandro for Walks 1–3, 32–38
- N.048 Val di Peio-Val di Rabbi-Val di Sole for Walks 4–15
The maps are sold in shops throughout the Stelvio National Park as well as leading outdoor suppliers and booksellers worldwide. In the UK consult The Map Shop (www.themapshop.co.uk) or Stanfords (www.stanfords.co.uk) if you prefer to purchase them beforehand.
All the walks are covered by Tabacco, with the exception of Walks 23 and 24, for which you need the new Ingenua 1:25,000 scale maps. Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio Sheet 2 covers Walks 16–25 and 27–31. Order from www.cartoguide.it or purchase at Bormio.
Lastly, www.altavaltellina.eu also do 1:25,000 maps at a cheap €1, although the graphics are not always clear and route difficulty is not shown.
Kompass also has a good range of walking maps that cover the Stelvio (www.kompass-italia.it).
A note on place names: in the Südtirol region of Italy they are bilingual – German and Italian – on maps, signposts and refuges. Both are used in this guidebook the first time they are mentioned, thereafter the German is given preference as that is the region’s dominant language.
There is an Italian–German–English glossary of topographic and other useful terms in Appendix B.
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There's been an increase in cases of TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) across Europe, Italy included. Walkers should be aware that they may pick up ticks while walking through grass and woodland up to approx 1500 metres altitude. Not all ticks carry the disease but better safe than sorry. Simple precautions and plenty of useful information is available on the website: https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/tick-borne-encephalitis. Vaccination is also an option.
p142 The second torrent is uncrossable .
(Thanks to Nigel Armistead)
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Gillian Price has trekked throughout Asia and the Himalayas, but now lives in Venice and is exploring the mountains and flatter bits of Italy. Starting in the Italian Dolomites, Gillian has written outstanding Cicerone guides to walking all over Italy as well as Corsica and Corfu. An adamant promoter of public transport to minimise environmental impact, Gillian belongs to Mountain Wilderness and is an active member of the Venice branch of CAI, the Italian Alpine Club.View Articles and Books by Gillian Price