Walking

The Ponale Path at Lake Garda

From Riva del Garda to Pregasina, one of the most famous routes with the best views in Europe

porko
Text

Matteo Facchinetti

Mountain bike, trekking and snowboard
Angela Trawoeger
Photo

Angela Trawoeger

Creator, photographer and content manager

The Ponale Path is in the north of Lake Garda, in Trentino between Riva del Garda and Ledro Valley.

Because of its spectacular views over Garda and the environmental and historical characteristics of this walk, The Ponale is one of the best known and most walked routes in Alto Garda.

You can see the profile of the old Ponale road from the beaches of Riva and Torbole. This easy route starts from Riva del Garda, near the port and the HydroElectric Plant and steadily goes uphill to the Regina Mundi statue on the terraces of Pregasina.

This path isn’t difficult technically but it goes up along a rock wall which does suffer rock falls sometimes. For this reason, it is classified as an Alpine walk for expert walkers and needs to be undertaken with care.

Map and GPS Track

Details

  • Technical characteristics

    • Starting point
      Riva del Garda
    • Endpoint
      Pregasina (Regina Mundi)
    • Route
      Riva del Garda, Sentiero della Ponale, Pregasina
    • Starting height
      80m
    • Highest point
      450m
    • Altitude – ascent/descent
      470m/5m
    • Distance
      4,9km (one way)
    • Duration
      1,5 hr (one way)
  • Difficulty

  • Scenic appeal

    • Experience (1 to 5)
      5
    • Landscape (1 to 5)
      5
  • Type of route

    • Return track on the same route
    • Suitable for families and children
    • Panoramic route
    • Insider Tip
  • Best time of year

    • All year over
      without snow

Partner

Hotel Capri 360gardalife en 1
Hotel Villa Carmen en
Arco mountain guide 360gardalife 3

A bit of History

The Ponale Road was built between 1848 and 1851 when the architect, Giacomo Cis, died.

At the second and third tunnels, you will find the remains of the Ponale Cut – the most difficult military architecture work along all the lines of resistance. It’s constructed out of tunnels dug out of the rock and trenches that start from Lake level and finish high above the actual path.

Along the path you will find information cards that tell you about the history, the flora and fauna.

Up until the 1980’s, the path was used by carts to join Lake Ledro to Lake Garda and in 2004, the path was transformed into a cycle/walking path. For several years now, bike and pedestrian traffic have been separated.

On the website www.ponale.eu of the Giacomo Cis Committee, you will find lots of information about the path’s construction and history.

Route description

From the HEP station in Riva del Garda, walk south and at the first tunnel go uphill on the right to get to the start of the path.

The Itinerary takes you winding up over the waters of Garda going steadily uphill for about 3km on a rough road with a gradient of between 4.5% and 6% up to Belvedere at the height of the old Ponale gate and the Ponale waterfall. Here you will find a refreshment point..

Now go left following signs to Pregasina and after two more kilometres going uphill on a tarmac road, you arrive at the Pregasina Terrazza with beautiful views and the Regina Mundi Statue.

Variant

  • From the terrace you can go on uphill for another kilometre and visit the small village of Pregasina.
  • You can return by bus no. 214 Riva del Garda – Ledro Valley getting on at the “Pregasina bivio” bus stop on the ss240 road which you reach just after Belvedere taking a right turn. You can buy tickets on board.

Our suggestions

  • In the summer and on hot days, it’s best to start this walk in the afternoon when it’s already in the shade.
  • The Ponale is quite busy so in High Season try to avoid weekends and public holidays.
  • In the summer its great to do this walk in the evening to stretch your legs before dinner. Even if in the summer it gets dark later, don’t forget a headtorch as the Ponale is not lit.

For your safety

  • This path is open to bikes as well: be careful on the narrow parts, where there is reduced visability on corners and in the tunnels.
  • We don’t recommend that you do this route with prams or pushchairs.
  • You can take your dogs on this walk if they are kept on a short lead.
  • We recommend that you wear a helmet in case there are any rockfalls.
  • Don’t stop and rest under any sheer cliffs.
  • In freezing and thawing weather, when it rains or storms, we don’t recommend you do this route because of the increased risk of rockfalls. If an unexpected storm arrives, leave the path as quickly as possible.

The Ponale path in Winter.

As this path is at low altitude, it can be walked year round. Sometimes the path is closed in winter for maintenance.

On the Garda Trentino Facebook page, you will find information about and road closures and work.

Refuges, bivouacs or refreshment points close to the trail

At Belvedere

Partner

Hotel Maximilian 360gardalife
Xtreme bike malcesine 360gardalife
Hotel Nettuno 360gardalife

How you get to the start point of this route

Via Monte Oro – Riva del Garda

Parking

At Riva del Garda

Public transport

Trentino Trasporti

Similar route

From 360 Magazine