No need to go to the big American parks for find the wilderness, the large areas of wild nature not distorted by anthropization. Just discover the Val Grande, the largest wilderness area in Italy, 1 hour by road from Milan and a little more from Turin, right where you least expect it. A large natural area crowned by rugged mountains and protected by an enlightening decision, that of establish it as an integral nature reserve as early as 1967the first in the Italian Alps, to then create a National Park in 1992 and enlarge it in 1998, up to its current size.
15,000 hectares representing a true sanctuary of the purest outdoorsperfect for multi-day treks in remote areas, not at all civilized so much so that often if not almost always the cell phone doesn’t even pick up, among ancient forests, wildlife, waterways and mountain traditions of the people who inhabited this area between Ossola, Verbano, Val Vigezzo, Valle Intrasca and Cannobina.
Val Grande Park, where nature reigns supreme
There are two reasons why nature reigns supreme in the Val Grande Park. The first is the peculiar conformation of the placeprotected by the mountains and under the influence of nearby Lake Maggiore, which allows for a climate that favors a rich variety of vegetation: from mixed deciduous woods to secular beech woods up to alpine meadows, the animals have found the ideal habitat to live in.
Chamois, roe deer and deer are the undisputed kings of the forest, together with martens and wolves, while the typical birds of mountain environments soar in the sky and a great variety of fish can be found in the purest watercourses.
The other reason is historical: after a thousand-year history of human presence, testified by the rock carvings of Alpe Prà and Sassoledo and by the traditions of Alpine civilization, after World War II the Val Grande was substantially depopulatedthus leaving room for the return of the wilderness also favored by the institution of the park authority.
Trekking in Val Grande
There are numerous treks in Val Grande that can be done starting from few inhabited centers within the natural area. But before venturing along the paths, it is good to know that there are no hotels or refuges in the now classic sense of the term, but rather structures such as bivouacs and shelters in which to stop and rest in total autonomy.
For many, the privileged access to the paths of the Val Grande is the town of Storkor alternatively the centers of Intragna, Premosello Chiovenda e They stumble, from which the most beautiful paths for a day’s excursion begin, all mapped and marked. Then there are many other trekking itineraries, even lasting several days, which are not marked, and which can only be ventured with Park guides who know the area and its dangers.
For those looking for a day trip from Cappella Porta, in the municipality of Caprice, the path called All’Ombra degli Abetian itinerary of medium difficulty for hikers that reaches Pian Cavallone, at over 1500 meters above sea level between Val Pogallo and Valle Intrasca from where it is possible to admire the east face of Monte Rosa.
From Cigogna to Pogallo there is instead mule track called Strada Sutermeister or “dei lumberjacks”. The route is touristic, given that it is a road opened to transport timber, and in a couple of hours it is completed by walking up along the course of the Val Grande stream
The crossing Cigogna-Finero instead it is a real trek of at least a couple of days (but usually the guides offer it in at least 3) which requires the skills of expert hikers and offers wonderful sensations inside the beech woods including the possibility of sighting wildlife.
Another one a truly epic crossing is the one called classic from Scaredi to the Colma di Premosello, along the crests of the Upper Val Grande, passing first from the viewpoints over the Val Vigezzo and then from those over the Lower Ossola. A truly panoramic and wide-ranging itinerary that reaches an altitude of 2300 metres.
Guided excursions to discover the Val Grande
For those who want to get in touch with the wilderness of the Val Grande from April 2nd to November 26th, an excursion with the National Park Guides is scheduled every Saturday just to discover the Val Grande. It’s 40 appointments, they’re called “Saturday with the Guides” and are designed precisely to accompany people in their discovery of this wilderness area by walking along its paths and mule tracks with different excursions in terms of technical difficulty, length and height difference, as well as subject matter and peculiar naturalistic aspects.
Val Grande Park: useful info
The seat of the Val Grande National Park is located in Vogogna (VB) while the visitor centers are located in Premosello Chiovenda, Santa Maria Maggiore in the Buttogno hamleta Cossogno in the locality of Cicogna it’s at Intragna.
All the practical information as well as the list and positioning of the bivouacs can be found on the official website www.parcovalgrande.it.
For guided excursions you can go to alla Val Grande Cooperativelocated in Verbania-Possaccio.
Photo credits: Charles Galli, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Exponential, CC BY-SA 4.0
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