HIKING, BIKING AND HORSERIDING

Below you will find some suggestions of places to visit that are close to our heart. These are short outings to discover and appreciate our fabulous mountains – on foot, by mountain bike or even on horseback. The list is not complete, obviously, but it should get you going – and then wanting more!

 

We start near Colledara, in the nature reserve of the Fiumetto river which is rich in wildlife, trees and plants found only in the vicinity of water. It is located under the enchanting medieval village of Castiglione della Valle, which is worth a visit, and offers an enchanting walk, through a well-kept wood, accompanied by water.

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History tells us that Lucrezia Borgia fled to the village of Castiglione della Valle to seek refuge from her brother Cesare. It is in fact, located in a very central area of the Valle Siciliana: separated from the Valle di Chiarino near Tossicia by just a few streams, and close to Colledara and its neighbouring villages uphill.
It is a perfect area for an easy and relaxing walk. In the villages nearby you can meet the locals, perhaps have a chat with a farmer who may offer you a coffee or share some of his home-brewed wine with you, or just have a picnic somewhere quiet, and unwind. There is also an educational oasis not far away, if you are looking for interesting activities for your children.

 

Another great walk is near Castelli. If you take the road from Castelli to Rigopiano, there is a path on the right, just after the last houses you see. This leads to Fondo della Salsa, under the north face of Monte Camicia, one of the most evocative and beautiful places of the entire Gran Sasso chain, and quite easy to reach on foot (about 1.5 hour).
At the start of the path you will see a sword planted in a block of rock. It will undoubtedly remind you of King Arthur and Merlin, but in this case it is a memorial.The path will take you through a very light and open wood, and leads up to a clearing with a view that will take your breath away: the north face of Monte Camicia presents itself in all its dazzling height. The melting snow from the mountain above feeds a stream at your feet (in July or August you may find it dry) and the picture is unforgettable.
On your return, you should not miss out on a visit to the fabulous mountain village of Castelli with its history, ceramic art and local cuisine!

 

There are a few lovely walks from Tossicia. One starts by taking the road up towards the village of Tozzanella, keeping right where the road forks, and continuing on the unpaved road through the woods – immersing yourself in a wild, isolated jungle of trees and water, but still quite close to the surrounding villages.
Shortly you will be surprised to find a beautiful church in the middle of the woods, Chiesa di Sant’Andrea. From here, you can continue up to the village of Flamignano and even further up, to the abandoned houses of Corelli; or take the path to the right in the direction of Aquilano, crossing a few streams, olive groves and farmers’ fields.

 

Near Flamignano you will find a stream where you can cool of, and an excellent water spring for drinking (still used by the locals); also you may find wild meadows with edible herbs, and -if you know where to look- even truffels. Further up from Corelli, you can take a signposted path to your right to the village of Aquilano. From there you can either close the loop and descend on the road towards Azzinano, admire the murals and return to Tossicia by passing the cemetery and the remains of the convent, or you can go up towards Colle Pelato, which is a long and strenuous walk to the top. The path then continues all the way up to the Laghetta and Arapietra, on the ridge near the Corno Piccolo.
If you have enough stamina, you could even continue to reach the summit of Corno Grande and enjoy the view, which extends all the way to Croatia on a clear day!

Visit Gran Sasso - Scorci incantevoli - Colle Pelato 2
Visit Gran Sasso - Scorci incantevoli - Colle Pelato 1
Visit Gran Sasso - Scorci incantevoli - Fondo della Salsa 1
Visit Gran Sasso - Scorci incantevoli - Fondo della Salsa 2
Visit Gran Sasso - Scorci incantevoli - Riserva naturale del fiume Fiumetto 1
Visit Gran Sasso - Scorci incantevoli - Riserva naturale del fiume Fiumetto 2

Classification of Walks

T

For tourists

E

For walkers

EE

For experienced walkers

EEA

For experienced walkers with special equipment

Visit Gran Sasso - DA CASALE SAN NICOLA A SAN PIETRO

DIFFICULTY: E
DURATION: 4-5 hours
ASCENT: 280 m. – DESCENT: 380 m.
LOWEST POINT: 859 m.
SIGNS: red-white painted stripes

 

EQUIPMENT
Walking boots, layered clothing, wind- and waterproof coat, backpack with enough food and drink, trekking poles recommended

From Casale San Nicola to San Pietro

From the square of Casale San Nicola (859 m.) where you can park your car, go uphill through the village following the red-white signs n.5 and n.200. Continue along the cart track that climbs up towards the “Paretone”. Pass the Fonte San Nicola, with a picture of the saint, and enter the beech forest. Here you leave the Sentiero Italia on your left that crosses a footbridge, and you enter the panoramic basin where you will find the church of San Nicola (1096 m. – 45 minutes).

 

Leave the path to the right that you were following and goes up to the rifugio San Nicola. Instead, go down for a bit, then turn right and follow the red-white signs n. 200 and the Sentiero Italia. Cross the stream near the water reservoir and continue on a shady track uphill, until you reach an unpaved road near Fonte Nera (1060 m.), climbing up from Casale San Nicola. Follow this road up to where it meets another unpaved road, then follow that one to the right up to the stream of the Valle dell’Inferno (1038 m. – 30 min.), dominated by the “Paretone”. The path continues through a beech forest, along an aqueduct. Ignore the path to the right (1089 meters) that goes up to Vado di Corno, and carefully pass across a landslide to come out at the foot of a deep canal (“Vallone” on IGM maps) leading down from Monte Brancastello. Follow the marked path into the woods that will not take you to the stream, to where the path forks (940 m. – 45 min.).

 

Here you keep to the left unmarked track, which crosses some clearings before turning into an unpaved road that continues along the foot of some rock formations to the Fonte di Mezzogiorno (923 m.). Climb up to the crest of the Piani di San Pietro, which continues towards Brancastello, to a winding road (840 meters) going down. Follow the road, or the shortcuts between the hairpin bends, to reach San Pietro (760 m. – 1 hour).
Another option is to to keep right at the fork and follow the no. 200 trail and the Sentiero Italia. This route crosses two valleys, goes up on a crest (1175 meters) and then down to San Pietro (1.5 hours).
Go down the village to the church, where another marked path takes you down to a water spring and continues on a crest in the direction of Isola del Gran Sasso. An unpaved road leads back to Casale San Nicola (415 m. – 45 min.).

Visit Gran Sasso - DA CASALE SAN NICOLA ALL’EREMO E AL RIFUGIO SAN NICOLA

DIFFICULTY: E
DURATION: 2 hours and 15 min.
ASCENT/DESCENT: 800 m.
LOWEST POINT: 859 m.
SIGNS: painted red-white stripes

 

EQUIPMENT
Walking boots, layered clothing, wind- and waterproof coat, backpack with enough food and drink, trekking poles recommended

From Casale San Nicola to the Eremo and rifugio San Nicola

From the square of Casale San Nicola (859 m.) go uphill through the village and follow the red-white painted signs n. 5 and n. 200, continuing on a stony cart track that climbs up in the direction of the “Paretone”.
Pass the small Fonte San Nicola, with a picture of the saint in ceramics, and enter the beech forest, leaving the Sentiero Italia which crosses a metal footbridge on your left, to reach the small and panoramic basin where you will find the church of San Nicola (1096 m. – 45 min.). The church, which unfortunately is usually locked, is divided into four spaces inside, and decorated with a beautiful ceramic panel, made in Castelli in 1988 and dedicated to the miracles of San Nicola.

 

From the church, take the marked path that enters an old beech forest. Note a centuries-old beech tree and a large boulder along the path. Follow the fairly steep path up to a junction (1290 m. – 30 min.) where the Geological Path branches off to the left to the Vallone dell’Inferno and Monte Aquila. Ignore a path to the right a little further on (the old Sentiero dei Quattro Vadi that climbs up to the Piano del Laghetto) and continue going up in the beech forest, with regular glimpses of the “Paretone”, to a grassy crest with a vast panorama overlooking the meadows at the mouth of the Vallone delle Cornacchie, guarded from above by the vertical east mountain wall of the Corno Piccolo.

 

It gets easier halfway up the slope and a final zig-zag climb takes you to the narrow natural balcony, surrounded by the beech forest, where you will find the closed rifugio San Nicola (1668 m. – 1 hour). The clearings nearby offer great views of the “Paretone” and a wonderful place for a picnic. From here it takes about 1.5 hour to get back to the village of Casale San Nicola.

Visit Gran Sasso - DA CASTELLI AL FONDO DELLA SALSA

DIFFICULTY: E
DURATION: 1 hour and 15 min.
ASCENT/DESCENT: 400 m.
SIGNS: painted red-white stripes

 

EQUIPMENT
Walking boots, layered clothing, wind- and waterproof coat, backpack with enough food and drink, trekking poles recommended

From Castelli to Fondo della Salsa

From the medieval town centre of Castelli, follow the road to Rigopiano. Pass the Convent of San Francesco, the Ceramic Art School and the hamlets of San Rocco and San Salvatore, until you reach a bend in the road to the left, with a picnic area just before it. This is where you can park your car (770 m. – 4 km. from the town), and where a clear track starts, on the right, entering a dense wood.
Follow this track, at first flat and then gradually uphill, marked with signs for n.245 and the Sentiero dei Quattro Vadi. Even though the beech forest is very dense, you can already catch the occasional glimpse of the north face of Monte Camicia.

 

After crossing a saddle, you will find a water reservoir that supplies the inhabitants of Castelli. Cross the river on stepping stones and climb up further until you reach a monument in ceramic and inscribed slabs of stone to commemorate two people: Piergiorgio De Paulis, a mountaineer from L’Aquila who died here in the winter of 1973, and a pilot who crashed in this area with a small plane.
Just a little further on, you enter the Fondo della Salsa (1150 m.), a wild chasm at the foot of the north face of Monte Camici. You can go up further towards the spectacular waterfalls fall in spring and early summer, but beware of falling stones when you get closer to the rock face.

 

If you are quiet, you may spot some chamois or circling birds of prey, which are quite common to this area.
Return to your car along the same route, retracing your steps. It takes about 1 hour to go up and 45 minutes to come down again.

Visit Gran Sasso - DA FORCA DI VALLE A PIANALUNGA

DIFFICULTY: E
DURATION: 1.5-3 hours
ASCENT/DESCENT: 410-970 m.
SIGNS: painted red-white stripes

 

EQUIPMENT
Walking boots, layered clothing, wind- and waterproof coat, backpack with enough food and drink, trekking poles recommended

From Forca di Valle to Pianalunga

On the road from the A24 motorway exit Colledara-San Gabriele to Tossicia, take the road to Forca di Valle at Ornano Grande. Pass the houses of Vico and continue up several bends in the road and through the lower part of Forca di Valle until you reach the parish church of San Giorgio (808 m. – 3 km. from Ornano Grande), where you can park our car. Another option is to take the road from Isola del Gran Sasso via Fano a Corno and Cerchiara.

 

Take the tarmac road uphill opposite the church, crossing the upper part of the village until you get to a signposted junction with a metal cross (875 m.). Follow the left cart track, keeping right at the next junction, and continue up and down, keeping right also at the next two junctions. After the Peschio della Fonte water spring (1112 m.), which emerges from under a large boulder, go up to the Vena Pecorale pass (1205 m. – 1 hour and 15 min.), with a great view of the valley of the same name and both Corno Grande and Corno Piccolo. Up to the left, very close, you can reach the spectacular grassy crest of Pianalunga (1215 m.), a perfect spot for a break.
From here, the main trail continues halfway up the slope, crossing the deep Vallone di Vena Pecorale, goes around another crest and continues up to the rifugio Fontanino (1428 m. – 45 min.), where you will find the road meant to connect Prati di Tivo to Forca di Valle.

 

A path across the road leads to the Forchetta pass (1560 m.) and continues at the foot of the Cima Alta to the Piano del Laghetto (1620 m. – 30 min.), where you will find a road to Prati di Tivo. Turn right on the grassy crest, and follow the path that climbs up to the Cima Alta (1715 m. – 15 min.), with yet another fabulous panorama. Go down the crest opposite to the one you came up on, cross a beech forest and return to the Forchetta pass.
To go back the same way as you came up, return to Vena Pecorale (1 hour and 15 min.) and Forca di Valle (45 min.). The descent from Piano del Laghetto to Vena Pecorale without climbing the Cima Alta takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Visit Gran Sasso - DAL LAGO DI PAGLIARA AL CASTELLO DI PAGLIARA

DIFFICULTY: E
DURATION: 1 hour and 15 minutes
ASCENT/DESCENT: 130 m.
SIGNS: partly marked with signposts

 

EQUIPMENT
Walking boots, layered clothing, wind- and waterproof coat, backpack with enough food and drink, trekking poles recommended

From Lake Pagliara to Castello di Pagliara

Start from Isola del Gran Sasso and go up to Pretara, ignore the road to the right to Ceriseto and San Pietro and pass by the Eremo of San Nicola (or Frattagrande). Cross the bridge across the Ruzzo river and climb in zig-zags. Ignore the detour to the right to Piano del Fiume and you will find yourself at a small lake and a small picnic area on a saddle (852 m. – 7 km. from Isola del Gran Sasso).

 

This point can also be reached from Castelli and San Massimo by a road in poor condition. From the saddle, take a path with a sign saying “sentiero Piero Boscherini path”, which is often muddy when it has rained. It goes gently uphill through some fields, then downhill again, around a crest until it gets to a fork. Here you go left, climbing up to the rock formations on which the castle and the church were built. After a short stretch in the woods, you arrive at a saddle (923 m.) with a view of the Corno Grande. Here you go right, skirt an overhanging rock and continue to climb diagonally, sometimes turning back onto the crest just down from the small church of Santa Maria a Pagliara and the most spectacular stretch of the old walls (978 meters).

 

On the rock formation that you around at the beginning, you can see the remains of a tower that unfortunately cannot be reached. However, if you continue for about one hundred meters on the crest, ignoring a path on the left that descends directly to Pagliara, ou can reach some other ruins. You return by the same route. It takes about 1 hour going there and back again.

Visit Gran Sasso - DAL PIANO DEL FIUME ALL’EREMO DI SANTA COLOMBA

DIFFICULTY: E
DURATION: 1-1.5 hour
ASCENT/DESCENT: 380-400 m.
SIGNS: red-white painted stripes

 

EQUIPMENT
Walking boots, layered clothing, wind- and waterproof coat, backpack with enough food and drink, trekking poles recommended

From Piano del Fiume to the Eremo of Santa Colomba

Start from Isola del Gran Sasso to reach the village of Pretara. Ignore the road to Ceriseto and San Pietro on your the right and continue towards Lago di Pagliara. After a hairpin bend to the left (730 m. – 5 km. from Isola del Gran Sasso), a tarmac road branches off to the right that becomes unpaved further uphill. Follow this road, crossing a concrete bridge over the Ruzzo river, with captivating waterfalls just upstream, and past a water board building, skirting the eroded sides. After another hairpin bend, you reach the Piano del Fiume halfway up the hill (850 m. – 2 km. from the bend), dominated by the untouched gorge of Fosso Malepasso.

 

From the drinking fountain, continue on the unpaved road for a few meters, and then turn left where a red-white sign indicates a clear path. Follow the path that crosses the stream and zigzags up on a steep hill, covered with a beech wood, between Fosso Malepasso and the even more impressive gorge of Fossaceca. Pass the Belvedere terrace and keep to the left overlooking the steep cliffs of Fossaceca on an exposed ENEL track with a railing. Be careful here! Then pass through a forest of silver fir trees and go up to the Eremo of Santa Colomba (1234 m. – 1 hour), with its fabulous panorama.

 

The area is dominated by the characteristic rock of Cimone di San Colomba, on a crest that descends to the north from the Torri di Casanova and Monte Infornace. Going back down takes about 45 minutes to the Piano del Fiume and another 15 minutes to the tarmac road.

Visit Gran Sasso - IN MOUNTAIN BIKE SULL’IPPOVIA DEL GRAN SASSO D’ITALIA

Mountain-biking on the Ippovia del Gran Sasso d’Italia

The Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park boasts the longest horse trail in Italy, the Ippovia del Gran Sasso d’Italia. It covers 320 km. and stretches out through three different provinces. This trail offers great mountain bike routes of various lengths and altitudes, but all of them splendid and wonderful.

 

You will find some mountain bike routes near Campotosto, Assergi, Santo Stefano di Sessanio and Rocca Calascio, Lago Racollo and Fonte Vetica on Campo Imperatore, Isola del Gran Sasso, Prati di Tivo and Pietracamela, Ceppo, Bussi sul Tirino and San Giacomo.

Visit Gran Sasso - ITINERARIO “A CAVALLO”, IPPOVIA - DA RIGOPIANO A CAPESTRANO

DIFFICULTY: on horseback
DURATION: 7 ore
DISTANCE: 45 km
ASCENT: 1150 m. – DESCENT: 1700 m.
STRETCH N.2 of the Ippovia del Gran Sasso d’Italia

 

This section of the horse trail crosses the Rigopiano plateau, the wide karst valley of the Voltigno and the extensive high mountain plateau of Campo Imperatore. These places are all interesting and beautiful in their own right. The trail will also take you to the Tirino Valley, named after the Tirino river flowing south of the Gran Sasso, and to the Ofena basin, also known as the “Oven of Abruzzo”, because of its particular microclimate makes this a true mediterranean island at the foot of the Gran Sasso.

Horseriding trail from Rigopiano to Capestrano

With its 320 km of track, the Gran Sasso horse trail is the longest in Italy. It runs through three provinces in Abruzzo (L’Aquila, Pescara and Teramo) and through 8 of the 11 districts in which the National Park is divided.
Along the track many water points, drinking troughs and fountains have been cleaned up and restored, not only for tourists, but also to support local sheep and cattle farmers in the area. The park also set up various rest areas with open fire places, renovated a couple of mountain refugi and put up some shelters for horses near tourist facilities.

 

Along the track, you will find an interesting mix of nature, history, architecture and archaeology, as well as tourist facilites, such as shelters, hostels and restaurants serving local specialties of the area. The trail connects agriturismi offering food and/or lodging and horseriding centres.

 

FOR HORSE RIDING IN THE PARK, CONTACT:

Le Casette – Arturo Franchi, Horses Ranch
Horseriding with a guide
Via Casette, 18 – 64049 Tossicia (TE)
Tel. (+39) 338.1470513 – (+39) 349.4713074
Website: www.franchihorsesranch.eoldal.hu

 

“La Frontiera” amateur sports association)
Loc. Vicenne – Tossicia (TE) c/o Centro Turistico Polivalente
Tel. (+39) 328.6553240

 

Agriturismo Conti di Pagliara with stables
Castelli (TE)
Tel. (+39) 0861.975734 – (+39) 347.6558300

Visit Gran Sasso - ITINERARIO IN MOUNTAIN BIKE CON PARTENZA DA ISOLA DEL GRAN SASSO D’ITALIA

RENT-A-BIKE: Le Tre Porte Association – Borgo Pagliara Vecchio
Tel. (+39) 329.7925794
Website: www.letreporte.it
Open: from June 1st to September 30th – Monday to Friday 15.30-18.30
In July and August 10.00-13.00 and 15.00-18.00

Mountain Bike Trails starting from Isola del Gran Sasso

1) Around Isola del Gran Sasso
Distance: 1.8 km.
Ascent/Descent: 51 m.
Highest point: 450 m.
Road: 50% tarmac, 50% unpaved
Duration: 1 hour, round trip
Difficulty: Easy

 

2) Isola del Gran Sasso – Trignano
Distance: 10.2 km.
Ascent/Descent: 237 m.
Highest point: 440 m.
Road: 100% tarmac
Duration: about 1 hour and 30 min., round trip
Difficulty: Moderate

 

3) Isola del Gran Sasso – Castello di Pagliara
Distance: 20.7 km.
Ascent/Descent: 741 m.
Highest point: 855 m.
Road: 100% tarmac
Duration: about 3 hours, round trip
Difficulty: Moderate

Visit Gran Sasso - L’ANELLO DELLE FRAZIONI DI TOSSICIA

DIFFICULTY: T
DURATION: 2-2.5 hours
ASCENT/DESCENT: 380-400 m.
SIGNS: partly marked with red-white painted stripes

 

EQUIPMENT
Walking boots, layered clothing, wind- and waterproof coat, backpack with enough food and drink, trekking poles recommended

A Circular Panoramic Walk from Tossicia

This walk starts in the old town centre of Tossicìa (409 m.). Follow the tarmac road towards Montorio al Vomano, cross the bridge over the Chiarino river and continue along the road until you see a signposted path going up on the left to Azzinano, Aquilano and Cusciano. This takes you quickly up to the remains of an old monastery and the town’s cemetery (485 m.). From here take the tarmac road uphill to Villa Alzano and Azzinano (583 m. – 30 min.). Azzinano is certainly worth strolling around to admire the many colourful murals painted on the outside walls of its houses.

 

When you are ready, continue up on the tarmac road, past a small church on your left, until the views open up on a wide hill crest. Turn left at a signposted junction to reach the village of Aquilano. Follow the red-white signs through the old centre of the village until you get to the church square, from where you can enjoy excellent views (640 meters – 15 minutes). Go down to another tarmac road that passes under the church, and follow it towards the mountain. Shortly after, it opens up at a junction with signposts. Ignore the path to the right uphill to Cusciano, and take an old waymarked mule track downhill to the left, towards the church of Sant’Andrea and Tozzanella.

 

A pleasant path with open views takes you down to the bottom of the valley, crossing two streams, and then up again, on the other side, to the church of Sant’Andrea (530 m. – 30 min.). At the church you can choose: either take the path uphill to the village of Flamignano, or go downhill in the opposite direction to return directly to Tossicia.
If you go up to Flamignano, follow the tarmac road to Tozzanella. Here again, you can choose: either follow another marked trail that passes the Equestrian Centre in the National Park and takes you back to Tossicìa the long way (about 45 min.), or simply follow the tarmac road down to Tossicìa.
The other option is taking the downhill path at the church, which becomes a wide unpaved road and ends at a tarmac road, that goes up to Tozzanella and Flamignano to the right, and down to Tossicìa to the left, passing the council offices (30 min.).

Visit Gran Sasso - SENTIERO DEI DUE SANTI

DIFFICULTY: E
DISTANCE: 39 km.
LOWEST POINT: 436 m.
HIGHEST POINT: 1924 m.

 

EQUIPMENT
Walking boots, layered clothing, wind- and waterproof coat, sleeping bag, backpack with enough food and drink, headlamp and trekking poles recommended.

Trail of the Two Saints (Sentiero dei due Santi)

From the Sanctuary of San Gabriele (Isola del Gran Sasso d’Italia) to the Sanctuary of San Pietro della Jenca (Assergi).

 

The Trail of the two Saints is quite demanding, both for its length (almost 40 km.) and its difference in height (about 1,500 m.). You can walk the trail in both directions, which will most likely take a few days to complete. However, it is hard to find accommodation between Isola del Gran Sasso and Fonte Cerreto or Assergi, so you need to organise yourself for sleeping outdoors.

 

NOTE: about half-way on this trail you will find the former Convent of San Francesco (now housing the offices of the National Park).