The second half of 2021 is, for many people, a time to get outdoors and revel in some fresh air. If you’re a fan of hiking, one of the best places in Europe to head to is Italy’s Aosta Valley. In this guide, we’re looking at some of the best routes this small Italian region offers.
Although small in size, the Aosta Valley boasts more than 2,000 trails making it a hiker’s paradise. It’s a picture-perfect location surrounded by 4,000 metre high summits, interspersed with quaint hamlets, beautiful chapels, alpine nature framed by incredible mountain vistas. There are endless possibilities in the Aosta Valley for outdoor enthusiasts, and although it was far from easy, we’ve highlighted some of the regions best hiking routes to inspire you.
The Alta Via Trails
The Alta Via trails take you right to the heart of the four giants of the Alps. To make things simple, they have been divided into two trials, denoted by the numbers 1 and 2. Both of the trails can be walked in the summer months and crosses medium and high altitude areas. The trails will take you through gorgeous pasturelands and meadows, woodland and rocky outcrops.
The trails are at an average altitude of approximately 2,000 metres and can sometimes increase to 3,000 metres. If this sounds like a little too much ‘huff and puff, there are various places to stop off along the way, including huts, hotels, camping sites and hostels.
Alta Via Trail 1, known as the Alta Via dei Giganti, or “the giants’ trail”
This route takes you on a journey through almost incomparable scenery. You’ll head across the foothills of some of the highest peaks in Europe, such as Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc.
Along the route, you’ll get to see some superb examples of natural alpine architecture (including the elegant pyramid of the Matterhorn) and some beautiful rural architecture, which are linked to life in the alpine pasturelands. These include some traditional Walser buildings in the Gressoney Valley and the upper reaches of the Ayas Valley. The route leads from Donnas to Courmayeur, with 17 daily stages, each of which requires 3-5 hours of walking time.
Alta Via Trail 2 is commonly known as the Nature Trail
This route passes through the Gran Paradiso National Park and the Mont Avic Regional Park. It also encompasses wild and magnificent landscapes with abundant alpine flora and fauna, including some regions’ rarest species.
Hikers will get the opportunity to admire the chamois on the run or the elegant golden eagle in flight, or if you’re lucky, you could be surrounded by a herd of male ibex (wild mountain goats) who gather in the final hours of daylight to graze in the valley grasslands below the moraines. The route leads from Courmayeur to Donnas, with 14 daily stages which require 3-5 hours walking time each. Read more.
The Cammino Balteo route
If you want to walk a route in Aosta Valley that will sit atop your list of lifetime achievements, this is the one for you. It is a circular route that covers 220 miles with an altitude between 500 and 1900 meters above sea level. The circuit can be travelled in both directions and is divided into 23 stages of about 4-6 hours each. This route will take you through more than 40 municipalities of the Aosta Valley region.
It is a journey to the innermost heart of the territory and the local community. It provides visitors with an opportunity to discover deeply-rooted local traditions, extraordinary architecture and the areas rural side, including its vineyards and cellars, creameries and picture-perfect pastures. Cammino Balteo route offers an awful lot and is a journey through nature and history.
Along this route, you’ll get to see a good amount of Roman and Medieval history, beautiful wooded areas, lakes, natural waterfalls, alongside some of Aosta Valley’s extraordinary nature reserves. The route can be walked in different seasons and can be adapted to meet the walker’s own timescales and needs.
Tour du Mont Fallère
This route begins at the foot of Mont Fallère (3.061 m) and is a circular trek is about 22 miles long with an elevation of up to 2.700 metres. It is aimed at those who enjoy a hike without technical difficulty but with a fair physical workout. The walk takes an average of 5/6 hours per day, always on easy to manage well-marked paths. The route provides the opportunity to admire the surrounding landscape, and if you need a break, there are two stop-off points in the very comfortable huts of Mont Fallère and Chaligne. Read more.
For more information on the hiking routes what the Aosta Valley region offers, please visit www.aosta-valley.co.uk.
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