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Excursions • Hiking

Bassa Via del Garda: Spectacular high-altitude hiking trail on the western shore of Lake Garda

4 min. reading time

Bassa Via del Garda (BVG) is a truly spectacular hiking trail that helps to make the region around Lake Garda a hiking El Dorado. If you want, you can reach the BVG directly from the Eden Reserve Hotel & Villas. After a hundred, admittedly adventurous, metres north through the hills, you will meet the Bassa Via del Garda at Tresnico or San Michele.

Bassa Via del Garda: the most beautiful hiking trail on Lake Garda

It makes more sense and is more beautiful to start the trail from Salò. From there, the route leads in five stages for 70 kilometres along the western shore of Lake Garda to Limone sul Garda. It is undoubtedly the most picturesque path on the shores of Lake Garda for hikers. This route leads through the nature of the Alto Garda Bresciano Regional Park, the hilly landscape of Mediterranean flora, past olive groves, through chestnut and beech forests, and gorges. Throughout the entire walk, the view of the lake and its eastern shores regularly comes into view. These views of the depths of the glittering Lake Garda are breathtakingly beautiful and create a unique charm when hiking the trail.

Source: Unsplash, Melissa Wolf

Stage 1: from Salò to Toscolano Maderno

The first stage leads from the lively town of Salò to Toscolano Maderno on the shores of Lake Garda. There are 16 kilometres to walk and 744 metres of altitude to climb. From the harbour, it goes through the old town of Salò up into the mountains. The trail uses romantic former mule and cart paths and passes dry stone walls and abandoned half-ruined farms. It leads through this ancient cultural landscape with tiny villages – accompanied by gnarled old Mediterranean oaks, cypresses, laurel bushes and palm trees.

Stage 2: Through the Paper Mill Valley (Valle delle Cartiere) to Gagnano

The second stage leads from Toscolano Maderno directly into the Valle delle Cartiere. Here, water-powered paper factories have continued to produce paper of a highly special quality. The valley with its small factories, most of which are still in ruins, and the very interesting paper museum (Il Museo della Carta) is well worth exploring. Read tips and a route through the Valle de Cartiere in the Destination Guide. The path then leads up to the small village of Gaino and the steep descent to Gargnano, the end of the second stage, is always sweetened by beautiful views of Lake Garda.

Stage 3: Waterfall at Piovere and the fantastic San Michele Gorge

The third stage leads at an altitude of around 400 metres parallel to the SS45 coastal road towards Piovere. A particular highlight of this stage is the waterfall above the picturesque mountain village. The tour ends in Gardola on the plateau at an altitude of around 660 metres. It is possible to descend through the wild and picturesque San Michele Gorge to the Campione peninsula at the foot of the steep rock faces. Campione, which can only be reached by boat or through a tunnel, has its own history, like many villages on the northwestern shore of the lake. Cotton was produced here from the end of the 19th century in a factory that used the water power of the San Michele torrent until 1981.

Stage 4: Dream view from Voltino over Lake Garda to Monte Baldo

The fourth stage leads spectacularly into the hinterland – as always with magnificent views. But they have to be walked, with a length of 18 kilometres, there are 1,041 metres of altitude to be climbed! At the finish in Voltino, 600 metres above sea level, hikers are rewarded with an unforgettable view of Lake Garda and the Monte Baldo area on the eastern shore.

Source: Unsplash, Marek Omasta
Source: Unsplash, gaia VEZZOLI

Stage 5: Panorama trail to Limone sul Garda – view of steep-slope cycle paths

The last stage leads up another 800 (Bocchetta Rocca) to 900 metres (Monte Bestone) before the unique Bassa Via del Garda Trail leads along a moderate panoramic path to the finish in the popular te Limone sul Garda, where olive groves and the famous lemon gardens spread out above the narrow streets. Nevertheless, Limone was not the inspiration for the name of this picturesque village, which is said to have its name from the Latin word “Limes”, meaning border. This is because the border between Austria and Italy used to run here for about 60 years (until 1866). But there is nothing to stop you from celebrating the end of your hike here with a Limoncello from Limone.

Floating 50 metres above the lake: famous cycle path section near Limone

A special project near Limone is a must-see: Perhaps the most famous section of the cycle path around Lake Garda leads from Limone sul Garda towards the neighbouring town of Riva del Garda to the north. On the steep bank, directly above the water, the cycle and pedestrian path, which is only two kilometres long so far, ends without a connection. Five kilometres are still to be built to connect to Riva in the most difficult terrain. Garda by Bike or Ciclovia del Garda is the name of the ambitious cycle path project that should make it possible to cycle around the entire lake.

Back by Navigarda boat from Limone sul Garda to Gardone Riviera

From Limone, it is a good idea to take the Navigarda public boat service – or a rented motor cruiser – to return to the shores of Lake Garda to Gardone Riviera or Salò, allowing you to relax and enjoy the wonderful views. Of course, you will also be able to see the western shore, which is beautiful with the landscapes of the Alto Garda Bresciano, which the Bassa Via del Garda hiking trail crosses.

Source: Unsplash, Leonhard Niederschwimmer

Header: Unsplash, Klaus Huber