a - BIKE - n.5: River Toce MTB route
THE FOLLOWING ROUTE REFERS TO THE MAP OF CYCLING ROUTES IN THE DISTRETTO TURISTICO DEI LAGHI MONTI E VALLI. A PRINTED VERSION IS AVAILABLE AT THE TOURIST OFFICES OF THE TERRITORY AND IN EBOOK FORM BY CLICKING HERE.
SEASON June-September (the low part also in April)
The route proposed can be done only on mountain bike and passes up the Antigorio Formazza Valley through the towns and villages near the main road (SS659). The abundant accommodation and catering facilities along the valley make it possible to choose the length of the stages on the basis of your level of training.
The route starts at the car park near the exit from the highway to Crevoladossola and Montecrestese. The car park can be reached from Domodossola following the In bici tra i fiumi (Cycling by the rivers) route.
Following the arrows in Via del Gries (trail code G00a) you take the nature trail of Lake Tana along the riverbank until you are under the elevated highway, turn slightly right and then turn left into the flat tarmac road to Roledo. Before climbing to the houses of Roledo an unmade road branches off to the left, passes under the viaduct of the highway to the bridge over the River Toce and then leads to the village of Canova di Oira. Following the signs for Arzaloo – Pontemaglio you pass again under the highway (a short steep downhill stretch) and take the path along the River Toce to the imposing distinctive stone bridge of Pontemaglio. After passing through the town you descend toward the road bridge and turn right just before it into an unmade path which, with a few ups and downs, runs parallel to the river. A little further on the path becomes increasingly narrow until a point where it becomes very wide and runs alongside the river to Gianzana. From here you continue on a tarmac road keeping to the left bank (looking downstream) to Alpiano Viceno. Following the signs for Via del Gries you cross the town, then go downhill and cross an iron bridge over the River Toce. Immediately after the bridge you follow the path on the riverbank that skirts the park of the Spa Centre of Crodo and the visitor Centre of the Veglia Devero Park. At the end of the park, following the signs for Via del Gries (signposted G00), it is better to take the state highway for a short stretch and then turn left toward the centre of Crodo. Alternatively you can continue along path of the riverbank which then enters a small wood, crosses the River Alfenza (ford) and continues through grasslands to the junction with the tarmac road immediately before the road bridge over the River Toce on the road to Maglioggio. From the centre of Crodo instead you continue, passing in front of the agricultural school, and then descend to take the road for Maglioggio which you follow as far as the turn off for Maglioggio. Turn left and continue on the flat following the pleasant road on the flatland that passes through beautiful meadows and arrives at the old ENEL power station of Verampio where you cross the bridge over the River Toce come to the Trattoria della Campagna. From Verampio, follow the signs for Orridi di Uriezzo (Uriezzo Gorges), take the unmade road that first fords the River Devero and then gradually climbs. First you come to Ponte di Maiesso (Maiesso Bridge) with the beautiful giants' potholes dug out of the white rock and then continue along the track (do not cross over the bridge) until you reach the mouth of the Orrido Sud (South Gorge), a deep gorge in rock equipped with metal ladders for visitors. After the visit to the ravine the route continues along the track up to the Oratorio di Santa Lucia (Oratory of Saint Lucy) where the road once again becomes asphalted. Follow the road up to Balmafredda with an impressive gorge excavated in the rock and equipped as a site for rock climbing. At the turn off for Crego continue toward Premia until the road meets the state highway for Formazza. Follow the state highway for 150 metres downhill (pay attention to the traffic!) and on approaching a chapel (Cappella dal Self) take the steep mule track with steps which drops down and crosses the River Toce, then climb again more steeply to the town of Cagiogno. Cycling is not possible on this stretch. Alternatively, to avoid carrying your bike on your shoulders you can continue on the state highway to Piedilago and take the tarmac road for Cagiogno. From Cagiogno follow the tarmac road almost to the bridge over the River Toce, turn left and following the tourist arrows and G00 signs you take a sheep track which skirts the artificial lake of Piedilago. From the end of the lake you return to the tarmac road which continues on the flat passing under the village of Cristo and continuing along the river. Further on the path becomes unmade again and offers beautiful views amid well kept meadows. You then come to the bridge right in front of Terme di Premia (Spa Centre of Premia). Instead of going toward the bridge follow the sings for Via del Gries and continue through the meadows alongside River Toce on a long flat stretch to until you come to Case Cini. After crossing the village continue on the sheep track which runs alongside the river until it meets a quarry road. Cross the River Toce at the ford (if there is water use the bridge at Case Cini) and you come to the state highway which take takes you to Chioso. Just after the village, in front of the beginning of the path for Alpe Vova, turn right and take a quarry road which crosses the River Toce again and then continues to a quarry (take care as this is a private road with moving vehicles!). The path continues until it rejoins the state highway at the road bridge. If you want to avoid this section on private roads, continue from Chioso along the state highway, passing Foppiano and arriving at the road bridge where the quarry road ends. From here continue following the state highway but instead of entering the tunnel you turn right and follow the old hairpin bends of the Casse which are no longer travelled by cars. You then come to Fondovalle. Here you cross the bridge over the River Toce and take the farm road, a long flat road which climbs up the valley on the left side (always follow the signs for Via del Gries) leading to Valdo. Here you cross the River Toce again and climb in the direction of the departure point of the chairlift but just before arriving you go straight on to the ENEL power station of Ponte. From here you begin to climb up a wide track which, above Brendo, becomes a path that takes you to Grovella. Now the route becomes steeper and to get to Canza you have to climb a ridge (the Cree) where cycling is impossible. On arriving at Canza do not cross the river but continue on a track which runs alongside the river. A little further on it becomes a steep path where cycling is impossible and which crosses another ridge before coming to Sottofrua. From here you can continue straight on along the wide path which leads to the bridge right at the foot of the Cascata del Toce (Toce waterfall). Alternatively you can cross the little wooden bridge immediately and take the state highway with the artificial tunnel which leads to the top of the waterfall. Climbing the mule track alongside the waterfall is not recommended as it is very steep, with large steps where cycling is impossible and which is busy with walkers. On arrival at the top of the waterfall continue to Riale following the tarmac road or the old mule track (signposted G00). When you come to the Centro del Fondo (Cross Country Ski Centre) of Riale cross the little bridge over the River Toce and follow the whole road of the San Giacomo Pass which was built in the nineteen twenties for the construction work on the Toggia and Castel dams. It is a real masterpiece, with low gradient and perfectly aligned hairpin bends. At the end of the uphill stretch you come to the Rifugio Maria Luisa (Maria Luisa Refuge) and then the Diga di Lago Toggia (Lake Toggia Dam). From here the road climbs gently skirting above the entire lake. Ignoring the turn off for Alpe Regina go straight on to the San Giacomo Pass where you can see the Bedretto Valley below.
From the pass you can co down into the Bedretto Valley to Airolo along the route promoted by Ticino Turismo know as the Strada degli Alpi (Road of the Alps), which half way up the slope passes the Alps of Formazzora, Valleggia, Folera, Stabiello, Cristallina and Pescium.
For reasons related to description we have divided the route from Crevoladossola to the San Giacomo Pass into three single excursions:
1. Crevoladossola Lago Tana – Premia
Altitude difference: 600 m uphill, 125 m downhill
Maximum altitude reached: 780 m asl (Premia)
Length: 18.0 km (only outgoing)
Points of interest: Nature area of Lake Tana, stone architecture in Oira and Pontemaglio, Visitor Centre of the Veglia Devero Park at Crodo, Maiesso potholes, Uriezzo Ravines
2. Premia – Ponte (Formazza)
Altitude difference: 600 m uphill, 85 m downhill
Maximum altitude reached: 1286 m asl (Ponte)
Length: 18.0 km (only outgoing)
Note: you pass along the hairpin bends delle Casse which, with the opening of the Fondovalle tunnel, are hardly ever used by cars.
Points of interest: Traditional stone architecture, Spa Centyre of Premia, Walser culture in Formazza, Casa Forte di Ponte
3. Ponte (Formazza) – San Giacomo Pass
Altitude difference: 1060 m uphill, 35 m downhill
Maximum altitude reached: 2313 m asl (San Giacomo Pass)
Length: 16.2 km (only outgoing)
Points of interest: Toce Waterfall, Walser culture at Formazza, Casa Forte di Ponte, Lakes of the Val Formazza
Cross Country Ski Centre Riale c/o Aalts Dorf Hotel
Town Riale - 28863 Formazza VB
Tel: 0324 634355
Terme Premia s.r.l.
Locality Cadarese n. 46 28866 Premia (VB)
Tel: +39 0324 617210
Town Valdo - 28863 Formazza VB
Tel. mob. +39 333 9168986
AUTHOR Alessandro Pirocchi