Elevation amsl: 2784
Location: Peio Fonti
Catchment basin:Noce - Vallombrina stream
Mountain chain: Ortles
Hiking time: 9.00 hours
Difficulty: EEA – Excursion for experts with equipment
Elevation gain: 1450 m
SAT trail n°: 110 - 110 bis - 124
Shelters: Malga Paludei (mountain dairy)
Bivacco Battaglione Ortles (bivouac)
This lake is an artificial basin that was completed in 1959 and the dam that stands above Peio Valley is about 52 metres high.
It is possible to walk around the lake or to start on outings that will take you to a medium-high altitude amongst the forest and the pastures.
The lake can be reached by car from Peio Fonti up to a location called Fontanino ( it is possible to drink chalybeate water here) and from here you must continue onwards by foot following the trail which will only take about 20 mins.
(a 2-day excursion is recommended)
After the town of Peio Fonti, enter into the Val del Monte along a paved road until you reach Fontanino di Peio at an elevation of 1670 m. Just before the ancient thermal source, from which a precious mineral water flows, you will find an unpaved road to the right that rises towards the northeast. After the first turn, the road, which is located under several rocky cliffs, will then go west entering into a small valley characterized by the presence of alder trees and several peat bogs. You will then pass just below the area called Masi de la Palù and face a steep section, arriving at a small resting area on the shores of the Pian Palù lake: the lake has a storage capacity of 13 million m³ of water and a 52 m high dam.
From the shores of the lake, the wide mule track goes up through the pastures that are just below Malga Giumella (mountain dairy) and after a couple of turns in the road you will reach the fork with the n. 110 bis trail that after several turns in the road takes you to Malga Palù (mountain dairy) located at 1950 m. (0.40 min.)
From the mountain dairy, which was recently renovated due to a fire, continue west (SAT trail marker n. 124) on the forestry road which has a slight slope, and while leaving behind the pastures that surround the mountain dairy, you will enter into a larch and fir forest. After a steep but brief slope you will pass several small valleys where you will find numerous wooden drinking troughs. The trail descends down a brief section in a northwest direction and then climbs up towards the larch forest. After a small wooden bridge you will reach the pasture surrounding Malga Paludei (mountain dairy) at 2106 m. (1.30 hour). Part of the mountain dairy has been turned into a bivouac shelter for up to six people. If you want to try an alternative route, which climbs up through Vallombrina valley and then goes all the way to the Battaglione Ortles bivouac shelter, the mountain pasture is a good area to divide the itinerary into two easy stages. The bivouac is located close to several roches moutonnées (sheepback) that border with a small pool in which it is sometimes possible to spot mountain frogs.
From the small pool, take the trail that goes upwards in a northwest direction (both SAT trail markers n. 110 and n. 124) and then cross through a charming sparse pine wood. A rather steep slope takes you to the area that enters into Val Piana. From here, follow the directions for Passo della Sforzellina to the left (SAT trail marker n. 124): then cross through the highest part of Val Piana and thanks to a small wooden bridge you can pass over the stream. After the bridge, you will initially continue along the hillside, therefore you will go up through pastures and grassy hills, in order to reach a plateau where you will find several military tunnels located on the orographic right side of the valley. The wide, open clearing contains several small pools. After passing over a rather steep hill, you will then follow the trail that runs along the side of the Noce torrent. At the exact point in which the torrent forms a small bight, get off of the n. 110 trail marker that goes up to Passo della Sforzellina, in order to go north amongst steep mountain meadows. Therefore, go up towards the waterfall which originates from the Vallombrina Lake. At the bottom of the waterfall, carefully follow the white and red trail markers in order to climb up on the left side, that after several turns will also allow you to pass a rocky cliff and you will then reach the glacial valley on top: here, you will find the emerald green Vallombrina Lake at 2784 m. (2.00 hours from Malga Paludei (mountain dairy). After passing several roches moutonnées (sheepback), located above the lake, continue along a brief but semi-flat section and go onto the orographic right side of the valley. Here, follow the trail markers on the rocks, which are not always clearly visible, and climb north over the scattered boulders and rocks and the steep slopes that descend from Pizzo di Vallombrina (mountain peak). Here, the itinerary becomes difficult and you need to be very careful as you climb up through blocks of rock and a passageway filled with detrital rocks. You will reach a small pass on the ridge of the mountain from which you can quickly reach, by going west, the Bivacco Battaglione Ortles (bivouac shelter) located at 3120 m (3.00 hours from Malga Paludei-mountain dairy).
The bivouac, which can be used as an alternative shelter instead of using Malga Paludei (recommended), is an incredible observation point towards Passo Gavia (mountain pass) in addition to the mountain crest that from Corno dei Tre Signori leads to Punta S. Matteo. (mountain peaks)
You will have a spectacular view, towards northwest, of the Dosegù glacier and also the peaks of the Bernina mountain range in the distance. To the south, you can admire the Adamello and Presanella mountain ranges.
The return itinerary, from the bivouac, takes you through rocks and boulders to Passo Dosegù. To the north, you can still see the hanging glacier that descends down forming several new glacial lakes on the bottom. Once you reach the Pass, located at an elevation of 2999 m, you can easily descend south down through scattered boulders until you reach a steep grassy passageway which has a rocky wall at the bottom that must be passed with extra caution. You will find several metal ropes along this passageway that will help you descend safely. When you arrive at the bottom, continue south through rocky terrain and pastures until you encounter the SAT 110 trail, which descends from Passo della Sforzellina, near a deep valley. From an elevation of approximately 2450 m., continue southeast along the well-marked trail until you reach Malga Paludei (mountain dairy) in approximately 2.30 hours. Once you reach the mountain pasture, it is recommended that you return by continuing along the SAT 110 trail marker that takes you down to the lovely Pian Palù lake.
After passing the pastures next to the mountain dairy, you will enter into a small larch wood and then reach a small peat bog. Here, at the edge of a grassy plain, the Noce torrent descends in a rushing and violent manner, deep within a gorge. After several steep turns, the trail descends south through sparse larch and alder trees in order to reach the grassy plain in front of Pian Palù lake. After crossing over a bridge on the Noce torrent, you will reach Malga Pian Palù (mountain dairy) (1826 m.; 0.30 min. from Malga Paludei ).
Just past the mountain dairy, to the southeast, follow the grassy pathway that goes up a wooded hill. From here, continue straight along the right side of the Pian Palù lake. Pass the deep valleys that slope down from the steep mountainsides, and after having passed a small tunnel, go towards the bottom of the pastures that surround Malga di Celentino (mountain dairy) at 1830 m. At the edge of the pasture. swerve to the east and after a few turns down a steep trail, you will reach the plateau at the bottom of the dam and from there the parking area located at the Fontanino area (3.00 hours).
Photos and itinerary descriptions: Tiziano Mochen