Adventure Of The Week: Classic Walks Of Gran Paradiso
Alpine mountain trails arguably provide the greatest scenery. With the extra effort of walking up there, you are generally rewarded with a little bit more in the scenery department. However, often with this amazing scenery comes extra people, all wishing to bask in the glorious surroundings. Wouldn’t it be lovely to find a quieter part of the Alps, even better, one where the scenery is amazing, but you don’t have to put in too much effort to enjoy it? Well, Macs Adventure has nailed it again. Welcome to the Classic Walks of Gran Paradiso.
In a Nutshell:
Where: The Gran Paradiso National Park is located in the very north of Italy in the stunning Aosta valley. With its combinations of French and Italian culture, incredible peaks and world-class hiking, the Aosta Valley is a must-visit destination for any walker. This twin-centre trip is ideal for anyone wishing to experience these outstanding walking routes, combined with lovely accommodation and, of course, no need to carry your bags around with you.
Distance: With the trip being a twin-centre, there are some options on how far you walk each day (if you choose to walk at all!) so the distance varies from 59-67km. Between each of your accommodations we provide a private transfer, so you can relax and have a day of rest in between your walks.
Grade: Walking in the Alps is always tough isn’t it? Well, not this trip. We have graded this one Moderate, so if you have a decent level of fitness you will be absolutely fine for it. The distances vary from 9–20km, and while the ascent/descent ranges between 200 and 1000m a day, the walks can be shortened simply by turning back when you have had enough. The terrain is alpine, and paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, gravel tracks, boulder strewn-paths and faint, narrow grassy trails. There are sections of easy scrambling, and on the hike to Alpe Money, there are very short sections with rope/footholds to help over some tricky terrain, although there is no exposure. And there are a couple of easy river crossings, which is always good fun.
Why Walk Here?
If you are all about walking, then this trip is the one. While there are some other lovely features, which I will go on to explore, this trip is focused on the walks. All the quiet hype about the area is true. It is the ‘Alps’ best-kept secret,’ with huge dramatic valleys filled with clean crisp air, incredible vistas, wildlife and very little else. As you ascend the neighbouring peaks begin to pop up over the immediate mountains until you are witnessing great waves of mountains undulating and spiking into the distance. It is a truly awe-inspiring sight.
Gran Paradiso is Italy’s oldest National Park, founded in 1922 to protect the Ibex that roam here. This meant that the area was protected before the rise of the big ski-resorts and the park remains blissfully unbuilt upon, a rare part of the Alps where nature is left to its own devices. Hiking trails crawl up the sides of the lush green valleys, winding their way around Alpine lakes, through patches of trees.
Your home for the first couple of nights is Pont, a little Hamlet at the end of the Valsavarenche valley, Pont is like Base Camp for walkers looking to ascend the Gran Paradiso peaks. With it being so tiny, people tend to congregate in the few bars and restaurants in the evening and basically, you don’t go to Pont unless you love the outdoors, which can make for a very convivial evening, surrounded by like-minded people.
Lace fans take note! Cogne, your other town in your twin-centre experience, is famed for its lace-making. However, there is a lot more going on here than just this. This traditional Aostan town is massively proud of its heritage and there are regular workshops on all the things that have kept the town prosperous for so long without the interference of big business. There are also several outstanding restaurants with locally sourced and foraged produce being the order of the day. And of course, it is beautiful and surrounded by high peaks, pine forests and alpine flowers. A perfect haven from the modern world.
Planning and Preparation
To get walking on the Classic Walks of Gran Paradiso all you need to do is get yourself to Aosta or Courmayeur and we will pick you up from there and take you to Pont. We will also take you to Cogne and back to your chosen destination for onward travel, so it is as easy as we can make it.
If you have any questions about the route, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Destination Specialists, who will be more than happy to help.