The Ferrata at the Sentiero dei Fiori (literally "The Flower path") is a magnificient high-altitude itinerary that embodies many characteristics that will make it indelible in the memory of every mountain lover. We are talking about a ridge path, aided where necessary, which extends on a high-altitude ridge where the history of our country has passed. The itinerary was in fact prepared by the Italian military who had the front here in the First World War. The itinerary is not of high technical difficulty, except for a few steps in the final part, and presents magnificent panoramas on the nearby glaciers of Presena and Pisgana.
The starting point of the itinerary is the Tonale Pass on the border between the provinces of Bolzano and Brescia. You can reach Passo del Tonale from Bolzano (2h by car) or Brescia (2h 30 'by car) via the SS 42 or from the Valtellina with the SS39 (1h 45' from Sondrio). Once you reach the pass, park near the cable car at Passo Paradiso on the Lombard side of the pass.
Directions for Google Maps available here.
Take the cable car up to Passo Paradiso (2585 m) where you descend from the cablecar around the small lake following the well-marked CAI 44 uphill towards Passo del CastellaccioPasso del Castellaccio. We will reach a crossroads not marked with CAI signs if they come off towards the left. We ignore the signs and continue uphill towards the pass. The path is pleasant and well marked. It extends on a high mountain slope and some not difficult rocky leaps. We reach the Passo del Castellaccio (2963 m - 1h 15 'from the top station of the cable car). At this point the harness is worn and we finish following the CAI 44 which descends to the opposite side (valley of Narcanello) and we are preparing to start the Via Ferrata al Sentiero dei Fiori.
From the pass we set off towards the south following the abundant signs and traces of the path. The first aided stretch is a long ledge that does not present any particular difficulties even though it extends with a series of ups and downs. We continue along this go up and down. We continue on the first part of the path without difficulties until we reach a series of wooden walkways. As we pass on one of these walkways we will notice on our left a series of brackets that go straight up towards a point. This is a detour and takes us in 10 minutes to a very panoramic point (eagle's nest) built for military purposes during the First World War. If you take the detour we have to downclimb and continue along the aided road. We are now near the most iconographic point of the route: the Casamadre Gendarme..
This rocky pulpit is reached and then overtaken by two long suspended bridges, very stable and well built that allow us to reach it first and then after a stretch of connection to overcome it by taking us further. If you did not want to walk the bridges there is a tunnel built during the war to avoid the bridges.
Passed the peak continue along a ledge that leads us to go around a corner and then go down a few meters. This part of the route will not present significant difficulties for the experienced hiker. At this point we will meet a stretch where it is possible to meet snow even late in the season. In this step, if the rope is hidden by the snow it will be necessary to use ice equipment (crampons, rope ax for preserving). We are now always at a high altitude but we continue on a relatively easy path, without equipment that is affected by human intervention during the war that moderated the technical difficulties. We continue along the path until we meet again the equipment near a small wall and then some rocks. At this point the equipment ends again and we continue going up and down on some boulders, sometimes unstable, until we reach, through a comfortable path, the Amici della Montagna shelter , open and generally managed in summer (3160 m - 1h 15 'from the start - 2h 30' total).
Continuing along the path, you initially lose altitude until you reach an escape route or an interruption in the trip. Taking the detour to the left we will be able to descend to Capanna Presena (1h with aided sections) from which to take the second section of the cable car and go down to the valley. Continuing instead on the trail we face a half-hill section with some boulders on which to climb without particular difficulties and then descend along a war trench up to the Lagoscuro Pass (2970 m - 30 'from the shelter - 3h total) where a chapel is also built wood. From this stretch you can end the itinerary by taking the path to the left going down in direction of the Lago Scuro (1h) and then taking a left uphill to the Passo di Maroccaro (30 ') from which you will descend on the snowfield of the Presena glacier until to reach Capanna Presena (30 '- 2h from the Passo di Lagoscuro - 5h total) where we take the cableway downhill to conclude the itinerary.
If from Passo di Lagoscuro you decide to continue, continue south. We will set off towards Cima Payer along alternate stretches of ledges and rocky leaps , standing on the western slope of the ridge thread. The path does not present particular technical difficulties until it reaches the summit cross of Cima Payer (3056 m - 20 'from the Lagoscuro Pass - 3h 30' ca total). Now we are faced with the option of going back to the Lagoscuro Pass and following the route presented above to go down to the valley (6h total) or to continue in the direction of Passo Payer.
If you opt for the option to descend towards Passo Payer the degree of difficulty of the via ferrata increases, deserving to be classified as difficult. Begin by descending a few rocky leaps and slabs to go backwards until you reach the thinning ridge and begin to walk down some exposed traverses. We face some rocks in descent and we reach Passo Payer (2978 m - 30 'from Cima Payer - 4h total). At this point we can conclude the itinerary by taking the path on the left that steeply descends towards the Città di Trento hut to the Mandrone (2449 m - 1h from Passo Payer) where, just before reaching it, we will take the CAI 209 on the left that goes up direction of Passo di Maroccaro (2h from Passo Payer) and then downhill to Capanna Presena (2h 30 'from Passo Payer - 6h 30' total).
The last stretch of the Sentiero dei Fiori continues from Passo Payer to Passo del Lago di Pisgana (2933 m). If you decide to take this stretch you start uphill on aided rocks alternating with granite supported slabs that are difficult to climb but where the chain will support us uphill. We will continue at times along along the ridge and then a little below on both sides along an aided ridge area not to be underestimated. Once in Punta Pisgana (3088 m - 1h from Passo Payer - 5h total) we continue on the path that descends to Passo del Lago di Pisgana (2933 m - 1h from Punta Pisgana - 6h total). At this point we descend to the left along a track between boulders to the Città di Trento Hut at the Mandrone (1h 15 'from the pass - 7h 15' total). From the hut, go up to the Maroccaro Pass and then descend to Capanna Presena (total 9h 30 ').
The Path of Flowers allows to be interrupted in several parts or to be undertaken for some stretches only. Here are the exit / interruption routes you can choose:
Among the notes that deserve mention is the snow. The route is largely of modest technical difficulty. With this premise in mind the actual difficulty varies significantly based on the snow cover given considering that the path extends around 3000 m. It is advisable to bring with you the necessary equipment to manage typical situations of these altitudes (ie sudden changes of weather, snowfall in late season, etc.). On the technical difficulties of the route the complete tour of the trip must be raised by one vote which, at least in the section between Cima Payer and Cima Lago Ghiacciato, is more exposed and demanding.
This stupendous itinerary will not leave time and energy to undertake new excursions the same day. For the following days there are certainly excellent opportunities in the area, starting from the northern slope of Passo del Tonale where we meet the Aided path of the Alpini to Punta d'Albiolo. On the Adamello Group presents many opportunities for excursions also equipped, among which the stand out Ferrata Terzulli at the Adamello, the very difficult Ferrata to the Corno del Grevo, the Ferrata at Pizzo Badile Camuno or going down on the Trentino side you can follow the Via Ferrata Monte Nero to the Presanella.
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