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VALCHIAVENNA

The Tracciolino Trail

The Tracciolino Path: 10km of galleries and tunnels between San Giorgio (Val Codera) and Val dei Ratti.
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E
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6:00 h
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15km
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1000
8
description

THE HIKE

Floods in July 2022 caused landslides that affected a short stretch of the Sentiero del Tracciolino. Since then, the Sentiero del Tracciolino has been closed until at least December 31, 2023 (updated to August 2023).


The Sentiero del Tracciolino (Tracciolino trail) is one of the most spectacular works of human engineering in Valchiavenna. It is a 10 kilometer long route that runs at a constant height of 920 meters between Val dei Ratti and Val Codera , built in the 1930s as a connection between two small dams , one in Val Codera (just over than a concrete wall) and one in Val dei Ratti (a little larger). Of these 10 long kilometres, not all are equally interesting and fascinating: if in fact the stretch between Val Codera and Val dei Ratti features tunnels and spectacular passages carved into the rock , the section between San Giorgio and Codera is more monotonous.


The proposed itinerary is a classic ring, starting from Novate Mezzola and returning to Verceia , which leads to the discovery of the most aerial and spectacular stretch of the route. An alternative route is to drive up to Val dei Ratti on a new asphalt road built between 2012 and 2014 — from there, the route is entirely flat, but requires returning via the same route. The Val dei Ratti road is accessible with a permit (€5) which can be purchased in one of the bars in Verceia (Bar Val di Ratt, Bar Pinki, Bar Miky, Bar Circolo Al Sert).


Access to the Tracciolino Tail

Returning to the circular route: we park in the large car park for the patrons of the beach on Lake Mezzola, immediately beyond the bridge over the Codera. We cross the bridge on foot again and go along the road which, going up alongside the bed of the Codera, takes us to the entrance of the path to San Giorgio.


Once you have taken the path, with every step you take the landscape becomes more interesting. Rising up, the view opens onto Lake Mezzola, surrounded to the south by the masses of Legnone and Legnoncino.


Legnone and Legnoncino
The snow-capped Legnone, the Legnoncino and Lake Novate Mezzola seen from the path to San Giorgio

With hairpin bends, increasingly overlapping and dug into the bare rock, the route soon gains altitude; when the slope finally reduces and the route turns east, we emerge into the very green meadows of San Giorgio .


San Giorgio, entrance to the Tracciolino path
The village of San Giorgio. The Sentiero del Tracciolino cuts the mountain a few tens of meters above the village.

We are immediately struck by the beauty of the church and its bell tower. The small Museum of San Giorgio is worth a visit, which we find by taking a short walk downhill on the opposite side of the village. As with Codera, San Giorgio is too an inhabited village that can only be reached on foot.


After a necessary stop in this oasis, we go catch the Sentiero del Tracciolino, going up the meadows and woods behind the village for about twenty minutes.


The Tracciolino Trail in Val Codera

We turn right on the Tracciolino. The tunnels are not far: a few steps, already aerial, and we find a first very short tunnel, then another and yet another. One short, one longer, one drawn with a ruler, the other curved like a crescent, all pleasantly fresh: we have 30 truly interesting and fascinating minutes to spend.


Tracciolino path, tunnel
One of the tunnels of the Sentiero del Tracciolino, in the Val Codera section

The route, entirely secured by a slender parapet, is accessible to everyone and is particularly suitable for children (not only because they can have the most fun, but also because they are more comfortable passing through the lower tunnels).


Tracciolino path, tunnels — Val Codera
One of the most spectacular sections of the Sentiero del Tracciolino, with galleries and tunnels dug into the rock

Suddenly, at the end of a tunnel, the path becomes wider to make room for a narrow-gauge railway, which comes out of a cave in the mountain to accompany us (in reality, a very uncomfortable presence for our feet), along the last but also longest Tracciolino tunnel (there is a switch to turn on the light).


The longest tunnel of the Sentiero del Tracciolino
Inside the longest of the tunnels, the one that takes us from Val Codera to Val dei Ratti, and the only tunnel to be illuminated

Once past this last tunnel, the landscape changes radically: no more vertical cliffs, no more tunnels, no more wild gorges, the landscape is now the sweet and wooded one of the low mountains. We have left Val Codera behind us, now we are in Val dei Ratti; the following stretch, although still suggestive and not very tiring, does not bear comparison with Val Codera.


The Tracciolino Trail in Val dei Ratti

It takes us more than half an hour to reach the house of the guardians of the Val dei Ratti dam. If we have a bit of luck we can meet a guardian who, reluctant to walk the 5 minute flat walk that separates him from the dam, rides a motorized grinder that rattles on the old tracks of the Tracciolino (if instead he feels particularly sporty he might be using the bicycle train).


Bridge over the Tracciolino path, Val dei Ratti
A bridge along the Sentiero del Tracciolino in the Val dei Ratti segment


From here we can decide to reach the dam (5 minutes' walk away, or 2 minutes by train) and/or go up to the village of Frasnedo (1287m, 40 minutes), otherwise we can immediately undertake the long and sultry descent to Verceia (the path starts a few tens of meters ahead). This is where the new road mentioned at the beginning goes.


The descent to Verceia consists of a pleasant path in the woods; a small path allows us to cut through almost all the bends of the road. Once we get off at Verceia we can return to the car along the beautiful cycle path on the shores of Lake Mezzola (about 1.5 km), or by taking a train to Chiavenna and getting off at the next station (Novate Mezzola).

Mappa

MAP

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PHOTO GALLERY

EQUIPMENT

The mountains are a dangerous environment: make sure you always have the right equipment — hiking or trail shoes, warm clothes and waterproofs in case of unexpected changes in weather conditions, a small emergency kit.

 

I've made an Amazon "shopping note" to make sure you have everything — ps if you buy from these links, 3% goes to support the development and maintenance of Hikes of the World 🙏.

 

  • Breathable t-shirt ( example )

  • Sweatshirt, fleece, or light jacket

  • Waterproof windbreaker (for example: men / women )

  • Gloves and hat (you never know)

  • Backpack with rain cover

  • Trekking poles (not essential, but they help to unload the weight of the backpack and ease the impact on the joints)

  • Trekking or trail running shoes (in great vogue lately because they are lightweight. These Salomon ones - for men and women - are an excellent entry-level, preferably Gore-Tex)

  • For via ferratas: complete via ferrata kit (I have this one , very light and compact, with this harness and helmet — or you can buy complete kits ). Buy in store to receive ad hoc support

  • To sleep a night in a refuge: sheet or light sleeping bag

  • Water bottle or thermos

  • Light crampons if you think you will find ice or snow on the route

  • Power bank or cell phone charger

  • Camera

  • Drone, for those who love to "fly" (used in moderation and at a distance from other people. I have had the DJI Mini 2 for over 2 years and have found myself very happy with it. The DJI Mini 3 also allows you to take vertical photographs)

  • Small emergency kit ( example )

  • Sun cream (essential)

  • Sunglasses

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