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Sportive hiking schedule with long daytime treks and lengthy ascents
Explore the stunning ridge trails with breathtaking views
Walk in wonderful solitude on the vast majority of the itinerary
Traverse Monte Baldo and experience a unique diversity of the climatic zones
Enjoy splendid views on a boat trip while crossing Lake Garda
Discover the cultural history of charming Garda lakeside towns
It is a classical loop hike around Lake Garda with long daytime treks, lengthy ascents, and unmatched vistas opening up from exposed mountain ridges that frame the lake. This hike requires quite a bit of effort that will be generously rewarded with impressions to last a lifetime.
The itinerary takes us over ridges on the west and east shores of Lake Garda, beginning at the northernmost tip of the lake – the township of Riva del Garda. The west shore features high, steep cliffs that plunge vertically into the still waters of the lake. Here our trail goes up an old road cut through rocks above the lake before snaking through a beech forest to a mountain pass and descending into an old lakeside town of Limone.
From Limone we cross over to the east shore by taking a 30-minute ferry ride. From there we make a lengthy ascent to the south tip of the Monte Baldo range that dominates the region. Monte Baldo offers a view of the River Po valley, the Dolomites, the vast Adamello glaciers, and even the Apennines in the south on a bright day. The lengthy trek over the Monte Baldo ridge offers picture-perfect vistas of Lake Garda and mountain ranges framing it from elevations of over 2,000 m.
To hike the Nothern Garda Loop you must be in a good physical shape and have prior mountain hiking experience.
Day 1: Riva del Garda
You arrive in Riva del Garda and check in at the hotel. Riva del Garda is an old lakeside township surrounded by mountains at the northernmost tip of Garda. It is a pleasant resort town with cozy medieval streets, a harbor, and a keep. It is also a yachting center. At the hotel, hikers collect special maps that we have prepared and a sleeping bag liner for overnighting at mountain huts along the route.
Day 2: Western ridges of Garda
Ascent 2000 m, descent 400 m. Hiking distance 19 km. 8 – 9 hours hiking.
Today you begin with a challenging uphill section to the crest of the ridge over the lake. From the cliffs standing 1,300 to 1,600 m tall Riva del Garda and the beautiful lakescape come into full view. For the rest of the day the trail follows the crest undulations to a mountain inn perched in a scenic location at an elevation of 1,600 m. As the night draws near, the setting sun highlights the mountain tops out east.
Day 3: Lake ladro
Ascent 1500 m, descent 2000 m. Hiking distance 23 km. 9 hours hiking.
Today's trek is one of the toughest and longest in the itinerary. If the morning is clear, you can admire the beauty of sunrise from the inn. For much of the day the trail threads along the ridge top above the enclosed valley of Val Concei. The trek offers fascinating panoramas: the range stands taller than any other mountain within 10 – 15 km of it. The ridge encircling the valley is the shape of a horseshoe. It forms a giant bowl or mountain amphitheater over the upper part of the valley. The crest trail is centuries old. First trodden by shepherds who preferred to stay high to control their sheep both sides of the ridge, it runs exactly down the crest or several meters below it on one of the sides. The trail has a rugged profile with frequently alternating climbs and descents, so brace up for a challenging trek. No encounters are likely along the way, except with one of two shepherds. At the end of the hard day the trail takes you down to Ledro for a welcome dip in the lake.
Day 4: Limone del Garda
Ascent 900 m, descent 1600 m. Hiking distance 17 km. 7 hours hiking.
The first two days having been quite strenuous, today you may take it easy and recuperate. There is no hurry this morning – there is even time for another dip. From Lake Ledro the route turns towards Garda over the western bank hills covered with beech forests. Several easy passes later the trail reaches Lake Garda at an altitude of about 1,200 meters. Beautiful cliffs protrude well into the lake – you will even find a table on one of them. After crossing a beech forest and taking photos on cliffs above the lake in the second half of the day, you reach a mountain pass from which the trail makes a steep descent to the lakeside town of Limone. The local climate in Limone favors lemon growing, hence its name that is quite uncommon for the Alpine region. Today you overnight at a hotel in Limone. If you can muster enough strength in the evening, you might want to take a stroll through Limone. It is a very beautiful and cozy little town.
Day 5: Ascent to Monte Baldo
Ascent 1800 m, no descent. Hiking distance 19 km. 9 hours hiking.
We leave Limone in the morning and take a ferry to the east shore of Lake Garda. Here we make a challenging day-long ascent to the ridge of the Monte Baldo range. As we go higher, we leave the warm Mediterranean climate of the lakeside slopes of Garda and pass a green belt into Alpine highlands. At the low point of the ascent, we pass through olive groves along ancient winding cobbled trails. At about 500 m above sea level, the olive groves give way to a deciduous forest that stretches almost all the way to the ridge, gradually being replaced by firs and pines. The trail occasionally leaves the forest and spills onto meadows, passing through hamlets with 2 or 3 houses each and offering spectacular views of Garda and its opposite shore. After reaching the ridge of Monte Baldo, we overnight at a mountain hut in an exceptionally convenient location – on an exposed ridge going down south where we can admire an epic sunset.
Day 6: Along the ridge of Monte Baldo
Ascent 1500 m, descent 1300 m. Hiking distance 19 km. 9 hours hiking.
The itinerary has another lengthy trek in store for us – along the ridge of Monte Baldo. We are in for multiple scenic vistas of Garda from an elevation of 2,000 m and a stunning panorama of the surrounding mountains. The trail runs along the ridge and slightly below it, mostly over the more shielded and less steeper eastern slope. Monte Baldo appears to be rather flat when seen from the lake. In reality, the ridge of this mountain group is moderately dissected. That's why we will be making numerous ascents and descents, but this won't seem like too big of a challenge after our yesterday's ascent to the ridge. Our itinerary for the day includes: several peaks along the ridge, including the highest point of Monte Baldo – the Cima Valdritta; descents into saddles of gorges on the western slope through which we will be getting glimpses of the still blue waters of Lake Garda; a seldom-traveled trail snaking through the central part of the massif; and unforgettable landscapes all day long.
Day 7: Descent to Lake Garda
No ascent, descent 2100 m. Hiking distance 17 km. 7 - 8 hours hiking.
Today we descend the slope of the Monte Altissimo – the northern peak of Monte Baldo – facing Lake Garda. Almost all day long we will be seeing the sky-blue waters of Garda dotted with sails at the foot of the slope. Along our route today, highlands will give way to meadows, then pine forests and deciduous forests. Many stretches of today's itinerary run over wild slopes where man seldom sets foot. After going down to Torbole, a resort town next to Riva del Garda, we will see a beach with holidaymakers basking in the sun, with the seemingly unreachable peaks of Monte Baldo soaring in a mist high up above. At this point it becomes obvious how much more interesting and diverse are impressions from a mountain hike compared to a week spent lounging on the beach.
Day 8: Riva del Garda
Our trip ends here. A morning dip into the refreshing lake waters at the beach of Riva del Garda is guaranteed to wipe away the pleasant tiredness accumulated during our trip. Those who choose to stay in Garda for another day or two might want to try windsurfing or renting a catamaran or a small sailboat. Northern Garda offers the perfect wind conditions for such pastimes.
The Verona airport is located just 15 km the the south of Garda. Riva del Garda is the extreme north of the lake. It takes 2:30 - 3 hours to arrive by train and bus from Verona airport to our base camp hotel in Riva del Garda. Other possible airports include Bologna, Innsbruck, Venice, Munich and Milan.
We can help you to plan the route from the airport and provide you with train and bus schedules: please contact us before you buy plane tickets.
Proper hiking boots are a must in the mountains. We recommend high boots because they support the ankle better than any low boots and provide better stability on a rocky terrain. You must bring some warm clothes with you: waterproof and windproof jacket, fleece jacket, long trekking pants and a cap. A raincoat, poncho or other type of rainwear is necessary. Other necessary items are the toiletries, light clean footwear to use in the huts, sunglasses and water bottles or bladders for a total capacity of 3 liters. It is important to have a sufficient capacity for water with you as it gets very hot in the Garda area especially on the lower trails. You'll receive a detailed packing list specifically for your trip at the booking. We ask all the participants to read it carefully and be well prepared for the hiking trip.
For detailed information on the gear and clothing please read Hiking gear.
You will stay overnight in mountain huts. You can count on the following services Mountain huts around Garda: a bed in a shared room, shower with hot water, toilets, meals, and a possibility to buy take away water and snacks such as sandwiches and chocolate. Shared rooms are equipped with bunk beds with mattresses, pillows and blankets. Bed linen is not provided in the Garda huts: you must have a sleeping bag liner with you. Typically, it is a light cotton bag. Warm sleeping bag is unnecessary, since there are blankets in the bedrooms. Private rooms are available in some huts. Most huts have a heating system, but it is normally not required in the summer months. You will need clean footwear for the huts: light slides are an ideal solution. For detailed information on the huts please read Mountain Huts in the Alps.
In hut-to-hut hiking tours you are served a breakfast and a dinner in the huts and mountain hotels on the route.
Normally, the breakfast is served from 7am to 9am. It usually includes an unlimited quantity of coffee and tea, bread, butter, jam, honey and chocolate spread. In addition, some huts offer ham, cheese and muesli for breakfast. After breakfast we recommend filling your thermos with hot water or tea: ask the staff, and it will be for free in most huts.
The dinner time in the mountain huts is 7pm or 7:30pm for all guests. A typical dinner in a hut is very rich and includes a starter, the first course (such as pasta, risotto, dumplings), the second course (meat with a side dish) and a dessert. Any drinks at dinner (water, wine, beer, tea, coffee) are not free and should be ordered and paid separately.
It is possible to stop for lunch in the mountain huts on the way in all the days of the trip except one day. This day we recommend to take a light snack (sandwiches, yoghurt, chocolate, water) from the hut where you have stopped for the overnight. The cost of a hot dish, e.g. pasta or risotto, in a mountain hut varies from 7 to 12 euros.
Our guided hiking tours are led by professional guides, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience and with passion for mountains. They permanently work in the region of the exact hiking tour, have professional licenses, are experts in emergency situations, regularly upgrade their qualifications and work in accordance with national regulations.
For self-guided hiking, it is necessary to be properly dressed, follow the safety rules and make realistic time calculation for day crossings – preferably according to the hiking schedule that we provide. Our self-guided hiking trips are planned so that they do not require specific skills or gear, unless it is clearly specified in the tour description. You can expect well-maintained trails equipped with direction signs. Exposed sections of the trail are secured on the self-guided routes: it makes them safe provided that you follow the basic safety rules for hiking in the mountains.
Mountains are a natural environment with a high level of risk, so we insistently ask all participants to read the safety rules and emergency procedures: Safety Considerations. If you have questions about the safety rules, please contact us +39 0463 63 60 80.
Insurance. It is important to have an appropriate insurance that covers the hiking activity. You don't need to include the climbing activity in your insurance, unless you are planning to climb during the hike.
Visa. We will provide you with a booking confirmation for all days of your trip. If you need the Italian visa, you can enclose this document with your visa application.
The weather conditions in the lake Garda region are very contrasting: day temperature on the lake and in the mountains can vary by more than 20° C (68° F). On the northern coast of Garda, below the elevation of 500 m (1,640 ft), the microclimate is mild Mediterranean. From June to September the day temperature varies between 26° and 32° C (79-89° F), and at night it drops to 18-20° C (64-68° F). At an elevation of 2,000 m (6,560 ft) on the mountain ridges where our multiday routes pass, the temperature can reach 18-22° C (64-71° F). On the sunny side of the ridges, the temperature is several degrees higher than on the shady side, and this creates conditions for a moderate wind. In a hot summer day, a strong south wind appears above the lake, while light clouds form above the summits and ridges.
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