Sondrio | Run 12 km | Boirolo for the bois and the gyals

Even though Valtellina is an alpine valley, there aren’t that many opportunities to truly break the tree line and enjoy being up there – as in, not too technical, not exposed, but nice and runnable. That’s exactly what this is.

Boirolo is a little gathering of houses at around 1,600 metres. The road up to it is marked with kilometres signs for cyclists so it is also highly recommended that you ride up before doing this run.

It’s a real beauty of a run and you’ll continually marvel at the scenery. if not, you should stop and look around. Take your eyes off your watch and your heart rate.

A lollipop-shaped run because that just happens to be as far as you can drive up with your car. Normally we wouldn’t advocate driving up the little roads as we like to keep them quiet for bikes, but we can make an exception in this case.

A fairly simple route to follow and in a very sunny spot. Summer only, of course.

Val Gerola | Run 22 km | Lakes, marmots, views, and boulders

Exactly as the title says, this is a beautiful high altitude route that’s a little technical in parts and definitely can only be done in the summer. They say Val Gerola is one of the sunniest spots in the valley – but it’s also one of the most snow-secure, so runs like this are only possible from late June onwards really.

Park in the very understated ski resort of Pescegallo, where the road ends. If you want to make an Alpine Bike of this, then you could do the 15 km climb up from Morbegno and leave your bike quite safely behind a tree (there are enough of them.)

There are rifugios on route if you need a sit down. About halfway around this route you’ll see the Rifugio Trona Soliva, that’s pretty popular as it has quite an easy route up to it (not the one you’re taking though). The food is great here.

Val Gerola is a treat for exploring, so don’t feel obliged to stick to this route.

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Morbegno | Gravel 56 km | Mixed terrain at its finest

The Only Way Is Morbegno – Gravel. Not the easiest route in the world, but worth every pedal stroke, apart from that 1km you have to ride on the main road.. It starts from the flat plains of Morbegno and begins with the early part of Passo San Marco. It’s a bit of a slog for 3/4 km before you jet off down a little lane when you reach the pass’ first major hairpin. This next stretch is a dreamy bit of gravel on an ancient lane with great views. A quick descent to Talamona before nipping around the Colmen to join the Sentiero for a bit. From here, you’ll head towards Buglio. The route looks complicated as it goes ‘off-grid’ here and takes a very tiny, very steep, very authentic cement climb that’s pure Panda territory. This rejoins the road after 10 minutes of climbing, so you could decide to stay on the main road (which is incredibly quiet). Once you’ve rejoined the road up to Buglio, the route again goes off-grid although it’s a very well used path that is signposted on your right on a big hair pin. You can’t miss it basically; there’s nothing else around. It’s a cool path, bit tricky in the wet, but worth it for the satisfaction of having ridden up it. Then you’ll turn a right when you hit the road at top of the zigzags, heading into the woods for a little bit of fun on a single track then a gravel road before rejoining the road that you skipped earlier.

From here, up to Buglio before a little more of a climb that cuts into the mountainside and escorts you towards Gaggio. Gaggio is a super cool village with great views and an even greater descent for gravel bikes with little cobbled alleys that cut across all the hair pins of the road. We like them a lot. Can be tricky though so don’t let go of the brakes too much.

Once at the bottom, head back towards the Colmen (the hill in the middle of the valley that sticks out). There’s a seriously cool trail that cuts off the main road. It’s lovely!

There’s one more little climb up to San Bello that awaits but it’s just a few minutes and has some of the valley’s coolest hairpins. You’ll then cruise through little villages and tiny lanes before a flat, mellow route back to Morbegno.

Mixed terrain at its finest.

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Sondrio–Tirano | Road 32km | The Scenic Option

Getting from Sondrio from Tirano can be straightforward or blissfully complex. This is the latter. And it’s worth every drop of sweat, every crank of your neck to look alternately at the bike computer and the views, and every pedal stroke in the direction of Tirano.

It sets off from the car park at the tennis courts on the outskirts of Sondrio, first heading along the trusted Sentiero before breaking free and heading towards Faedo and Piatedo Alta. This is the first climb of the route and it’s just a little lump to get the legs warmed up and the lungs opened. It starts with one long drag but gets more exciting the higher you get. You’ll then drop down again and rejoin the Sentiero for its nicest cobbled section. The next climb takes up you to Castello dell’Acqua and it’s a SUPERB bit of road. It skirts along the edge of the mountainside with prestigious views before a mellow drop down to San Giacomo. Quickly across the road and another, very short climb awaits.

This whole route has been conceived to avoid the main road and escort along the valley’s hidden gems. If you ask us, it succeeds on both fronts. A truly winning route, it gets even better after a 500m stint on the main road when you take a left turn off the main road towards Boalzo. This is where the roads get really quiet (although the earlier side sections are also very quiet), and there are a few lumps and bumps on the final, super scenic 10 km to Tirano.

Avoid this route in the deep winter as the two first climbs are on the shady side of the valley. Obviously it can be ridden in both directions too – just reverse the route on Komoot.

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Triangia | Run 5 km | The Balcony

A fairly new trail called the Balcony Trail, this is a wonderful route that condenses the greatest views and a fairly techy trail into just 5 km, which renders it the ultimate trial mountain run. We highly recommend this for families and those new to mountain running and looking for a taste of its beauty. After this route, you will go on to far bigger achievements. But for right now, and for those coming back from injury, this has just enough spice to heighten your senses and get you hooked.

Park in Triangia (the perpetually sunny village above Sondrio). There’s a cafe in the centre of the village, or head 2.5km up the road to Ligari afterwards for coffee and cake.

Runnable ALL YEAR ROUND.

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Val Viola | Run 21 km | Dreamy trails

One of the most breathtaking routes of all the valley, this is the former race route of the Skyrace Alta Valtellina, which from 2019 onwards goes by the name Val Viola Trail.

The reference to a Skyrace is pretty misleading as this is not a technical route, not at all. It’s truly runnable, which meant you always had a great race on your hands. Flow trails, stunning single track, and imposing peaks. It’s a sun-soaked valley and usually spends the whole of June/July/August enjoying the rays. You are at altitude though, so conditions can be changeable. Windproof jackets are therefore recommended.

There are a number of options for parking, including in Arnoga on the corner of the pass to Livigno, or at any of the small, fee-paying car parks that lead into Val Viola. During the high season there might be a ticket kiosk at the start of the little lane – This is a good thing as the valley is so special that a high number of cars would disturb the peace.

Expect a lot of marmots and a lot of whooping for joy. The second half is super quick, while the first half is more mountainous.

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Livigno | Run 12 km | Crap Vert

Most definitely not ‘Crap Vert’, the name is highly misleading. Crap, in this area, refers to (piles of) huge boulders and that’s basically what this hill consists of. The route starts from a little car park for the most beautiful B&B in The Palle (away from the hustle and bustle of Livigno). It follows a beautiful, runnable trail around to the lake before starting the climb. it is not an easy climb, but it’s a solid marker of form. The views get better and better as you scale the mountainside, then before you know it you’re at the top and you’ve rewarded with the most sublime bit of flow trail that takes you across the pass road. From here, simply drop back down to the Bait de Angial, or wherever you’ve parked the car. Simple.

Nice bit of crap vertical that’s best done as the sun is setting. Dreamy views await.

(Komoot thinks some of the route is off-grid – it isn’t. There are signs).

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Sondrio | Run 9km | Not the typical athletics track

This is a really basic but truly wonderful route that sets off from the athletics track and essentially does an extended scenic loop above it.

It takes in the most exciting and accessible vineyard trails and takes you on a panoramic tour above Sondrio. The first part is mainly uphill before it flattens off then drops you down towards the track again. There are many ways to extend this route, but it’s a great, time-efficient, touring run for those with an hour to spare. The photo below is clearly not representative of the vineyard trails, but does signify where you’ll find free parking.

Laps on the track afterwards, optional.

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Postalesio | DH MTB | Slalom alle Piramidi

Not for the faint-hearted, this is a high-octane, all-thriller, no-filler mountain bike ride for those who dare. Bit of a climb up from Postalesio to Pra Lone but from there you’ve got so many potential descents. Take the brand new one from Santi down to the Piramidi, or from Lone to Ca’moroni, then from Ca’moroni to Postalesio you’ve got a choice between three alternative routes. Here’s the latest and most current offerings, curated into one ride. Apologies for the off-grid sections – at the time of writing (December 2018), the trails are in perfect order so you shouldn’t have a problem with navigation.

In any doubt, or if you just want local guides to join you, then we’d definitely suggesting hitting up 360 Valtellina Bike. Lovely crew that are always keen to ride and give guidance.

This ride starts from the church/school carpark in Berbenno, giving you a bit of a warm-up towards Postalesio on some mellow tracks.

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Sondrio | Road 50 km | The definitive Valtellina road ride – vineyards, orchards, tiny roads.

In winter it’s hard to know which roads are still passable by bike – is that stretch of tarmac getting any sunshine at all? A safe bet is to keep high on the south-facing slopes. That’s exactly what this sublime route does. A breath-taking excursion into Valtellina’s wine territory. We think it is unrivalled!

You’ll head eastwards up the valley along the main road for a short stretch – it’s very quiet though. After a few minutes of pedalling you’ll find yourself on back roads that careen along the bottom of the valley, taking you on a whistle-stop tour of the orchards to Chiuro. Once you reach Chiuro, there’s the beautiful Castionetto climb that takes you up to the Panoramica. That road, the Via Panoramica, is something else entirely. Unbeatable views, fairly quiet on the traffic front, it’s a real pleasure to cruise along. This route doesn’t follow it for long though; you’ll be spewed out onto back roads that bypass the bigger villages and go all-in for authenticity. Expect little archways, ancient buildings and a whole lot of character through the vineyards.

This route starts and finishes at Sondrio train station, which even in the winter should get a fair amount of sun.


Have a good one!

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Ponte in Valtellina | Run 13km | Rifugio ramble up high

This route is very close to hearts of runners from Lombardy as the rifugio ADM (Amici delle Montagne) used to be the summer training base for many of the region's top runners. They'd train twice a day, chop wood and clear trails. Pretty idyllic way to spend your summer and very different from pounding the track at St Moritz, where the mountains just make a nice backdrop. Here, the mountains are truly 'lived'.

 

Great route, it goes high, breaks the treeline and offers beautiful views. 

Not really doable in winter. Unless it's one of those winters with very little snow. 

Basso Valtellina | MTB/Gravel 64km | Crank up the bass in the basso valley

So many variations are possible with this route, and it's always an option to shorten the climbs. There's an extra one above Talamona, just 'cos. No pressure to ride it and you have to come down the same road anyway – it just gives you another perspective on the valley. 

Once you've crossed the valley floor and started climbing up towards Cino and Civo, there are countless cement, cobbled and gravel diversions that bypass the road. Take as many or as few of these are you feel like – they tend to be significantly steeper than the road. The real jewel in the crown of this route is the high altitude gravel track that traverses the south-facing mountain slopes. Depending on your bike handling skills, you could get away with a sturdy gravel bike here. Best ridden in late spring, summer and early autumn.

 

Buglio | Gravel 26km | Lost lanes and adventurous climbs

A solid route of tiny tracks, disused and half-finished gravel roads, some cute villages and views galore. Starting and finishing at Sesterzio. 

Year-round but watch out for the descent down from the reservoir at Lotto as shady tree-covered corners could be a bit icy in winter. 

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Morbegno | Run 17km | Racing shoes on in Rasura

Starting up the valley into Val Gerola, this is a fine example of fast running, Valtellina style. A  mixed offering of terrain, this is a run that twists and turns on the mountainside with a host of treasures that reveal the centuries of life that has gone on in this valley. 

Spring, summer, autumn. 

Campo Moro | Run 20km | Digging the diga

A bit techy and arguably at altitude so you really want to pick your day to do this route. It's one of the blow-your-mind loops with beautiful trails, boulders, ridges and the crystal clear water of the reservoir, hence the name 'diga' which is Italian for dam. 

A choice of rifugios up here for a post-run cake and cola.

Summer only. Works in both directions. 

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Sondrio/Valmalenco | MTB / Gravel 54km | Vert metres for Valmalenco

Riding out of Sondrio on the Sentiero Rusca isn't the most inspiration start to a mountain bike ride so some might argue that you don't really need a mtb for this route. However, there are trail diversions galore once you've got those vertical metres in your legs in Valmalenco. 

Summer and early autumn only. 

Chiuro | Road 58km | A for adventure, B for b-roads, C for Chiuro

Loose description of 'road', this one wouldn't be averse to somewhat extra grip on certain roads on the northside of the valley. The first half is almost totally traffic-free until you reach the main pass road down from Aprica. In summer this gets a little busy so just watch out for motorbikes careening their way up the pass, in a mad dash to overtake lorries. It's not great but it'll whizz by. Then you're back onto small roads. You have to rejoin the main road super briefly before you start the climb to Teglio, but it isn't a dealbreaker, we promise. 

A hilly route, but unfortunately off the cards in winter. All of the climbs will be worthwhile. 

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Val Viola | Run 7km | A sprightly rifugio ramble

For anyone sleeping over at Val Viola's Rifugio Federico in Dosde, this route is an absolute must. A pre-breakfast dawn raid, a recreational hike for a jump in the lake on really hot days or a post-hike gentle cool-down jog, this 7km takes you through the most breathtaking scenery of the valley. 

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Val Viola | Run 43km | A very special hut-to-hut run

Here's a particularly mind-blowing route that starts in Val Grosina, just above Grosio. From there, a number of tracks and trails head up the valley towards Rifugio Eita. (There's also a road with restricted access but the trails on the righthand side of the road are much more interesting). From Eita, continue in the same direction and run and over Passo Verva along a gravel track. Drop down the other side and you're into Val Viola. Swing left, follow the single track and keep going until Rifugio Federica in Dosde.

Tip: sleep here and carry on the next day. 

Once you've regained your energy at the rifugio, head up towards Passo Dosde at 2,800 metres. It's pretty amazing. A slightly techy descent to a lake (the deepest in the Alps), before the downhill gets super runnable towards Malghera. This is where you might start meeting other hikers, but you'll be going to fast back to your parked car at Fusine that you won't notice. A great way to round off a hut-to-hut. 
 

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