Bormio and the Alta Valtellina by mountain bike

Bormio and the Alta Valtellina by mountain bike

THEAlta Valtellina immersed in the Stelvio National Park, is the ideal place for those who want to experience a truly "active" holiday where a generous nature offers ideas and opportunities to try their hand at their favorite sport.

The Stelvio National Park extends over an area of ​​over 134.000 hectares, in the heart of the Central Alps; guardian of an undisputed environmental heritage, offers a mosaic of uncontaminated areas alternating with areas shaped by the millenary presence of man. Within its borders you can admire large expanses of woodland, cultivated areas, mountain farms inhabited all year round, villages and towns. The protected territory borders the Swiss National Park to the north, the Adamello Regional Park to the south, the Tessa Natural Park extends to the east, while the Lombard regional park of Livigno and Valdidentro is about to be established to the west. Epic and heroic battles were fought on the border line. White War, this is the definition coined by virtue of the altitudes at which the Austrian and Italian forces faced each other during the First World War.


And it is precisely on the old military roads serving the defense lines, and on the agro-pastoral roads that connect the mountain pastures, that the proposed tour unwinds, going to the discovery of uncontaminated valleys and corners of rare beauty.

"Legs on the shoulder", let's go!

So ready, to immerse ourselves in this environment with our mountain bike. The starting point is set at Bormio Terme (1.215 m) and we immediately begin to climb along this first stretch along the SS38 Stelvio; the works began in 1820, based on a design by Carlo Donegani and the main aim was to make trade with Tyrol easier. The activities to create what would become one of the wonders of the Alps were completed in just 5 years, and went up the Braulio valley until reaching the homonymous pass located at 2.758 m.

We cover the first 4,7 km of the epic climb, on our left the dirt road branches off which with a rapid depression takes us to the picnic area of ​​Boscopiano (1.480 m). Past the wooden bridge over the river Braulio that goes down impetuous and gurgling, begins the splendid ascent along the Fraéle Valley. The wide mule track enters the dense forest of fir trees, the bottom is compact and climbs with a regular slope along the slopes of the Mount Scale until reaching Grasso di Solena, first, and the Cancano church, then (1.950 m 10,2 km).

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A short descent takes us along the S. Giacomo dam (year 1933) the first of the two dams that form the contiguous artificial water basins, owned by AEM SpA These two reservoirs are fed, on the whole, by the waters of the Adda river, which rises not far from the two basins on Monte Ferro as well as by the the Spöl canal, the Gavia - Forni - Braulio canal and the new Viola Bormina canal. Go up the service road, turn right and proceed in the direction of the next one Lake of San Giacomo di Fraèle (1949 m), formed later thanks to a further barrier built in 1953.
lake bormio

Although this part of the route does not reserve difficulties and the roadway is sufficiently wide, please note that this portion of the itinerary is open to vehicular traffic and of no less importance, there are no protective parapets downstream. After this segment of about 4 km at a crossroads, turn left and start climbing up the Val Pettini. The valley floor gives us green pastures, flowery meadows and splendid and characteristic wooden Teàt. But soon the alpine landscape changes completely and after passing a narrow wooden bridge, difficult rock fronts open up, the mule track climbs the ridge skirting deep chasms carved into the walls ... here the signs of the erosive forces and the slow but inexhaustible spend time. In several places the slopes exceed 30%, but our effort will be satisfied once we reach the pass where the plain of Trela ​​opens up with its Malga (2.170 m) today home to a simple and nice restaurant where you can taste polenta and sausages (18 km)
saddle of Val Pettini

Leaving the Malga on our right, we face the last challenging part of the tour, climbing up through the clearly visible trail in the pasture and reaching, not without effort, the Bocchette di Trela ​​(2.349 m) suggestive and characteristic saddle that dominates the wide prairie of Alpe Trela. Here the views sweep 360 ° over the Alpine peaks, giving us great emotions and filling us with joy repaying the effort made right now; the place of honor certainly goes to Cima Piazzi and its glacier which with its 3.439 m stands majestically in front of us (19,5 km). The path descends towards the south through a steep grassy slope and overcomes a steeper stretch where you need to be very careful. A small valley leads quickly to thepasture of Vezzòla , where a cart track comes from the valley. The compact bottom in excellent condition and the wide view, invites you to let our bike run towards the valley floor.
Val Vezzola descent

After crossing the plain of Vezzòla with its splendid huts (2.091 m), continue the descent and skirt a series of meadows and pastures until the intersection with the so-called `` Decauville '' (26 km). certainly not typical of the area, it is due to Paul Decauville, the French inventor of a single-track light railway. This type of railway which took its name, being easily dismantled, was built along this road in the 60s to transport the material coming from the Cancano dams to Arnoga. We turn left and cycle this completely flat section enjoying the vast panorama, from Valdidentro which is located just below it, to the Bormio basin up to Valfurva.

After about 4 km we cross the road that leads to the Fraèle valley where they rise at the entrance the ancient Towers of Fraele (1930 m). Now only the ruins of those towers that were the sentinels protecting the Passo di Fraele (or Passo delle Scale) remain visible, even if a recent renovation has made it possible to reconstruct part of the western tower which can be accessed from an opening on the ground floor.
towers bormio

Now we retrace this last stretch and continue towards the valley until we reach the town of Premadio; we pass the center in the direction of the valley, we cross a narrow bridge and we head for Bormio. On the way back we suggest a visit to the church of San Gallo dating back to 1243 where it is possible to admire frescoes of remarkable workmanship and the precious wooden crucifix. Thus we come to the conclusion of our tour after 42 km, aware of having cycled only one of the countless possible itineraries that the Bormiense offers, we just have to give ourselves a refreshing stop in one of the many places toasting a goodbye ...

Excursion details:
Starting point: Bormio1.215 m
Degree of difficulty: challenging
Recommended parking: in the square in front of the Town Hall
Max Altitude reached: 2.349 m
Max slope climb: 32%
Max slope descent: 25%
Cycling: 98% mountain / alpine cross-country
Road surface: asphalt 25% cart track 60% path and mule track 15%
Distance: 42 km
Duration: 5 hours
Recommended period: from June to mid-October
Kompass Map: 96

Article Written by Sergio Carobbio of the magazine PREALPI A Mountain of Sport. Discover the new itineraries by consulting the free multimedia version PREALPI iEdition, available for pc, tablet and iPad.

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