From the Tonale state road, just after the Casa Cantoniera (roadman’s house), take the paved road on the left all the way to the purification plant. After crossing the bridge you will find a large unpaved square. Leave your vehicle here and follow the unpaved road that, after the first bend in the road, goes through the tunnel and takes you all the way to the old cable lifts which are no longer in use. (0.45 min.). Located near the old building yard, you will find directions to the right of the start of the chairlift, which is closed. You will therefore then head west towards a large mass of rock. Then climb towards the right on a rather steep trail. Continue onwards until you reach a peat bog and the mountainside above by following a zigzag path. Here, the narrow mule track, used during the war, becomes much clearer and goes beyond the small stream. (1.10 hour). To the south you can see the enormous face of the Cima Busazza (peak) that slopes down to the west towards Passo dei Segni and the Cima Presena (peak). Continue onwards on the mule track that rises up the orographic right side of the small stream in a western direction, therefore climbing up the top part of the valley. Here, the mule track becomes a simple path that continues to rise with numerous turns taking you almost all the way up to the edge of the rocky ridge located above the ruins of the military posts.
A few dozen meters underneath the ridge, the pathway (which becomes wider after a fairly long flat section) enters into the basin of the Presena glacier. You will therefore arrive at a small passageway that leads you to the Passo Paradiso valley where you can see the lift system and the arrival of the cableway. (2.20 hours). There is also an alternative to taking the mule track in the last section: near the old military fortifications, climb up on the right in order to walk across the panoramic Monticelli ridge where you will find numerous ruins from WWI and a marvellous view of Passo del Tonale. From the small pass, continue south towards the Presena glacier bed just above the arrival of the cable lift, therefore reaching the first of the Monticello lakes at 2544 m.; continue along the path that takes you to the Capanna Presena (mountain hut) and you will reach the other two Monticelli lakes surrounded by splendid alpine flora. (2.45 hours)
It is possible to return by following the same itinerary back down or by taking the cable lift that takes you directly down to Passo del Tonale.
Photos and itinerary descriptions: Tiziano Mochen