Unspoiled landscapes, untouched trails, and undisturbed views over glaciers: our three-day trip to Italy’s Trentino took us to places that are reminiscent of Canada’s backcountry but minus the crowds. Heading South, our initial ‘Tris Dessert’ plan was to scope out three neighbouring mountain valleys but we soon realized with heavy hearts (and hunger to explore) that our appetites just wouldn’t be satiated in such a short trip.
Glaciers and grin-inducing trails in Canazei/Val di Fassa
Making decisions is overrated. Take our favourite Italian restaurant for example, where the Tris Dessert gets you a plate of three-desserts-in-one. The same goes for travel, right? Why should we limit ourselves to one region for riding when we can have three? To reach the start of what we dubbed our ‘Tris Trentino’, we drove over a seemingly never-ending mountain pass into Canazei along a road that dished out phenomenal views – so good that we could overlook the annoyance of being behind a bus full of tourists. Canazei is a great base for a long stay, as it doesn’t just have a packed bike park with really diverse tracks but also amazing trails all over the mountainsides. One highlight has to be stage 1 of the 2016 Superenduro Race, a track that’s easy to find on Strava. Above the treeline there are a mass of rocky hiking trails, yet dip lower and you’ll find a network of flow trails cutting through the forests. With skiers and hikers descending here in their thousands each year, it’s not surprising to see how well equipped it is with ski lifts and the like. To escape the crowds, take the gondola from Arabba up to Rifugio Luigi Gorza, where you’ll find a dream trail right down to Lago di Fedaia. At the western point of the lake the Col de Cuck restaurant serves up fine steaks and stone oven-baked pizzas with stunning views over the Marmolada glacier. Get your strength back up and then drop down to Canazei, where we headed off for the second part of our trip.
For more routes and tips head to fassa.com
With skiers and hikers descending here in their thousands each year, it’s not surprising to see how well equipped it is with ski lifts and the like.
Away from the crowds in Valsugana
Those well versed in spas and wellness are probably pretty au fait with Levico already, but this small town in Valsugana was little more than a black dot on the map for us. It’s another world away from mass tourism, bike parks and popular heat-mapped riding routes (although this article might up its riding credentials!). Those looking to escape the cable cars and hordes of hikers will probably fall in love with this region. You mainly ride on ancient trails made during World War One that witnessed bloody battles between the Austrian and Italian forces. Our standout trail was not far from Levico, we headed up and out of the valley to Ponte Conseria before grinding up the Passo Cinque Croci. From there, we dropped into a super varied natural trail back to where we’d begun, passing Rifugio Consèria where a stop is pretty much obligatory! Back in Levico we were all about recuperating our spent energy with a beer and Aperol spritz as the sun set. This is the sort of region for riding that’s definitely improved with the company of a local guide who’ll know exactly which trails will please your palate.
More information and suggested routes can be found at visitvalsugana.it
Those looking to escape the cable cars and hordes of hikers will probably fall in love with this region.
Bike parks meet cultural heritage
San Martino di Castrozza is nestled next to some imposing sky-high rock faces, and the Pala mountain ridge isn’t just a dominating view, it also marks the border between Trentino and Veneto. On this side of the valley there are admittedly a lot of restrictions on riding, but the San Martino Bike Arena has cable cars that scale 700 metres of altitude to launch you down a diverse track towards the valley floor. After a few runs we decided to scrap the cable car and pedaled off in the opposite direction. We were rewarded with solitude and silence in front of a seriously breathtaking backdrop. After a decent 90 minutes of climbing and the opportunity to get up-close and personal with some donkeys, we finally hit the descent, tearing along a trail and then down a wide, steep ancient cart track towards the valley floor with scorching disc brakes.
More info and route ideas can be found at sanmartino.com
We were rewarded with solitude and silence in front of a seriously breathtaking backdrop.
In three days we’d amassed a ton of downhill runs and racked up a strong tally of vertical metres on the climbs. Now we were back in the car, weaving up and over two sinuous mountain passes, but the slow pace (thanks to yet another tour bus) didn’t bother us so much this time, as it gave us time to admire the landscape and think back over our rapid Tris Trentino. All three regions have their own appeal, but Canazei in Val di Fassa trumped the others with its range of trails, accessible cable cars and amazing scenery. Valsugana and San Martino have their own unique charm, so didn’t trail too far behind. But if there’s one trait that characterises all three regions then it’s this: one day just isn’t enough to explore the trails or the cuisine. We’ll definitely be back!
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer