The area around Lake Garda is hard to beat when it comes to the variety of hiking trails available.
Mediterranean hilly landscapes with olive groves and vineyards, lakeside promenades in pretty towns, pre-Alpine mountains with meadows and panoramic views of the iconic landscape, and always Lake Garda in the valley, the contrasts are always best explored on foot. Hiking in the Alps and their foothills is incredibly popular, thanks to the region being a treasure trove for hikes against a breathtaking Alpine backdrop. A new panorama unfolds around every bend, and no matter whether on the steep descents or ascents, the views offer a diverse and fascinating flora right in front of your eyes. At your feet, there is usually a lush Mediterranean Garden of Eden, with the deep blue Lago di Garda in the centre. Towards the northern part of Lake Garda, there are many hiking trails, with tours offering high alpine character marked by the Italian section of the Alpine Club.
Hikes with alpine character around the northern part of Lake Garda
The Alpine Club also offers guided hikes, as do many private tour specialists, while downhill mountain bike rides are also very popular. Walking provides the most spectacular views, though. For example, hike from Monte Baldo down to Lake Garda, and you can enjoy intensive views of alpine pastures packed with yellow gentian, red lilies, arnica and peonies. Monte Baldo, especially the north side, is a very popular hiking area. The ascent is very accessible, thanks to the Malcesine cable car, which takes visitors up to 1760 metres. The 360-degree rotating cabin offers wonderful views over the mountains and the lake. The south side of Monte Baldo also has its great charms for hikers, and it is generally a little quieter. The climatic health resort of San Zeno di Montagna, at an altitude of 585 metres, offers an ideal starting point for hikes, while a chairlift takes you up to 1800 metres.
Unique: the old Ponale road is only for hikers and cyclists
The northern half of the western shore is also a great place for hikers, but they often have to share it with many others. Nevertheless, you should not miss out on the panoramic hike on the Ponale road. It leads from Riva del Garda up the steep walls on the lakeshore in serpentines and through tunnels to the hamlet of Pregasina. A nice continuation would be to hike on from here through the valley to the idyllic Ledro Lake. Just like every destination in the Lake Garda region, Lago di Ledro can again be a starting point for varied, beautiful hikes. On the way along the Ponale, you will come across the remains of old bastions. The Habsburgs built these from the middle of the 19th century to defend their border with the Kingdom of Italy. Depending on the season, you might have to share the road with some fellow hikers and, moreover, mountain bikers. However, in return, the awe-inspiring views of Riva and Torbole, the mountains Monte Brione and Monte Altissimo and northern Lake Garda are a delight. A whole library could be filled with suggestions for exciting hikes around Lake Garda with wonderful views. But even the most inconspicuous things have their own magic – if you let yourself in for it. The Eden Reserve lies on the slopes above Gardone Riviera, and the coastal town is part of the “Parco Alto Garda Bresciano” nature park. Nearby, around Gardone Riviera, there are small hikes in the very beautiful landscapes. However, even here, there are more challenging options: the Montagnoli Trail, for example, leads from the very famous southern neighbouring town of Salò for around 50 kilometres to Limone – and offers repeated opportunities for impressive circular walks. Here, paths with breathtaking views wind high above rock faces that drop steeply into the lake. Many corners of the Parco Alto Garda Bresciano are still almost untouched, ibexes are once again at home, and even lynxes and eagles roam through and make their rounds above the Parco Alto Garda Bresciano.
Guided hikes and via Ferrata on the southern shores of Lake Garda
Together with the chic lakeside promenades, elegant villas and interesting centres of the municipalities of the natural park, the Parco Alto Garda Bresciano is a very successful and harmonious combination of nature and culture. In Peschiera del Garda, the water leaves Lake Garda, and here in the Mincio Valley, you will find untouched nature and beautiful medieval villages. Along both banks of the river and off the road, a mostly paved riverside path leads all the way to Mantua. A hike here in the Mediterranean river landscape is a nice contrast to the alpine routes. The medieval idyll of Valeggio sul Mincio should definitely not be left out as a stage destination.
For the more athletic visitors who are looking for something more challenging, the landscape around Lake Garda offers a lot of opportunities. Like the via ferrata “Che Guevara”, a few kilometres north of Riva. The route climbs 1400 metres up the east face of Monte Casale with a lot of finesse. The view of the Brenta and Adamello massifs and the Sarche valley from the summit is a great reward for the climb. Guided hikes are also offered in many of the towns and villages around the lake, while the Eden Reserve can also organise this service.
One point of interest is the museum of the Trentino Alpine Association SAT in Trento, dedicated to the world of the mountains. The “Casa della SAT” is also home to the Alpine Information Office “Montagna SAT informa”.