The largest lake in Italy, was born in a landscape that was formed millennia ago between hills, mountains, glaciations. For this reason, Garda acts as a mirror to the surrounding mountains, among which Monte Baldo stands out, over 2000 meters high. On the eastern shore of the lake, precisely in the northern area where the Garda winds in a long bottleneck compared to the southern part. For about 40 kilometers this rectangular massif covers from the Veronese side to the Trentino side, skirting the Benaco.
After having crossed the plain, on the Veronese shore, this mountain massif emerges from your view which gives way to a landscape between other mountains and valleys to the north, towards upper Garda and the Adige valley. Monte Baldo, in fact, is the westernmost peak of the Venetian Pre-Alps which in Roman times was called mons Polninus and was then renamed Baldo from the German Wald, or forest, in the 12th century.
It has been a destination for excursions and tourism for centuries, even as early as the Renaissance it was considered a real botanical garden, due to the variety of vegetation present, with different climatic layers and flora: an incredible attraction for those who visit it. And that’s not all: there are many paths that have been followed for centuries on this mighty hill, which cross the limestone rocks, karst phenomena such as monoliths, sinkholes, basins and depressions in the ground, up to the most disturbing caves (the famous Tanella cave and the Bus de la Tacole with 172 depth).
Those who want to experience the beauties of the mountains, a few steps from the beaches of Garda, can think of an excursion to Monte Baldo, easily reachable from the Veronese shore, from the Veneto and Trentino territories. Let’s see how…
How to get to Monte Baldo
Monte Baldo can be reached from various points in the Garda or Veneto area, both by footpaths and by cable cars. It is crossed by a climbing route where there are also several shelters at different heights.
The access points most used to get to Monte Baldo are various, depending on where they come from. From the North, the town of Avio, with a corresponding exit for those taking the Brennero motorway, can be reached from Lake Garda starting from Malcesine, from the South, taking the Affi motorway exit and arriving in Caprino Veronese. From here you arrive at Ferrara di Monte Baldo (east area) or at Prada Alta (west area).
These are starting points for various uphill paths, up to the higher altitudes of the Baldo.
The most beautiful or challenging trails can be found on Monte Baldo
The most used access to reach the paths is usually the cable car from Malcesine, which arrives at the Colma di Malcesine (1750 meters high), a favorite place for crossing the Mount.
You can find another starting point for the excursions starting from Avio, where an asphalted road starts that takes you to the Graziani refuge, at about 1600 meters above sea level, in the locality of Bocca del Crer (where the homonymous pass is located). The path reaches the Altissimo di Nago, descends to the Bocca di Navene and can be climbed towards the Ventrar peak (about 1700 meters) and the Colma di Malcesine. The path continues up to Ferrara del Baldo.
Another route can start from this Ferrara, to climb up to 1250 meters towards the Novezzina and Cedron refuges; from here a path winds its way to Punta Telegrafo; alternatively, you can go further past the Cavallo a Novezza pass (about 1400 meters) and climb up to the Valdritta peak.
If you arrive in Prada Alta, the path climbs up the Naole crest (about 1600 metres), up to the Fiori del Baldo and Chierego refuges – from here you can cross the mountain from the south.
It is advisable to orient yourself immediately, perhaps thanks to a map and the advice of an expert guide, on the territory and its paths, which are numerous and which allow you to reach even high altitudes, but with the correct equipment. The first peak found in the northern part of Monte Baldo, for example, is the Altissimo di Nago at 2079 metres, separated from the mountain itself by a very wide saddle, the Bocca di Navene which we have seen which can be reached from Avio.
To the south, on the other hand, you can tackle routes on Monte Baldo along a long ridge, about 2000 meters high, with peaks even higher between Valdritta and Punta Telegrafo (2200 on average).
After three minor peaks, the Baldo ridge begins to descend towards the crest of Naole, and arrives at the last southern hill, easily accessible with its 1023 metres: the Crocetta del Monte Creta.
Among the many possible excursions on Monte Baldo, there are those towards the Altissimo di Nago, starting from the Bocca di Crer and following the military road. The route is easy, and usually you get to the Ventrar peak in order to admire the Altissimo.
An alternative peak to reach is Valdritta, the highest in the Baldo group (2218 metres), which can be reached via a path dug into the rock by the Alpine troops. Always starting from Ferrara, follow the route eastwards towards various refuges: Baldo, Novezzina, Cedron, Novezza. From here you pass the saddle of the Horse and continue up to the Trentino area – it will be a starting point for the Valdritta peak passing through the Barana al Telegrafo refuge.
Paths also start from this refuge for the Baldo crest, which lead to the Valdritta pass, and then along military roads with tight hairpin bends, up to the panoramic and spectacular peak.
It is also possible to follow a well-known path, the so-called mini-traversata del Baldo, which starts from the top of Malcesine, arrives at Cima Valdritta and goes back. It is a short section of the complete, decidedly demanding traverse, which includes the Chiesa all’Altissimo refuges, the Chierego refuge, and is not recommended for less experienced tourists.
Another possible mini-crossing is the one that starts from the San Michele cable car up to Colma di Malcesine, continuing to the Forti hut (about 1700 meters), descending to the Tratto spino pass, with a path up to the top of the Pozzette of about 2000 meters.
For those who want a more scenic route on Monte Baldo, from San Michele it is also possible to descend into Valdritta, where chamois are often sighted, then heading towards places such as La Fontana and the Piombi reserve.
It must be considered that many refuges are points of arrival or departure for various branches of the mountain system which leads to Monte Baldo, and in some cases they can also be reached nearby by car. For example, Dosso dei Cavalli near Prada can be reached by car, and then continue along the old military road to the fort of Naole, and then to various shelters, up to the Telegrafo. A recommended route for those who want to visit the sanctuary della Madonna della Corona, dating back to the Renaissance, is the one that starts from the center of Spiazzi and is easily traveled along the road carved into the rock.
What to do on the Mount, between trekking, stays and sporting activities
A true paradise for mountain lovers, as we have seen, this peak is phenomenal for lovers of trails and trekking, especially if you love botany, given that the vegetation of Monte Baldo includes an enormous variety of trees and plants, with a environmental depending on the height – there are 4 climatic zones and as many specific vegetations!
For those who go trekking, therefore, it may be interesting to pass from Mediterranean to mountainous nature, passing through the boreal belt and arriving at the alpine one.
The nature walks are also geologically interesting, due to the karst landscape full of caves and rock formations, and the mountain environment is loved in particular by mountain bike and horseback riding enthusiasts.