Excursions in the wild valleys above Menaggio
The trail is divided into 3 sections. The first one leads from Breglia to Malé and is 13 km long, the second section starts at Malé and ends at Cavargna and is about 19 km long, and the third leads from Cavargna to Dasio (13 km).
You can hike each of these sections as a day-excursion, or you can hike for three days.
Breglia can be reached by bus (line C13) from Menaggio (7 km). In order to find the beginning of the 4 Valley Trail, from the bus stop at Breglia go back slightly along the road, pass in front of the hotel Albergo Breglia and enter the village following the trail signs. Breglia is also crossed through by the Via dei Monti Lariani, a hiking trail of 125 km which starts at Cernobbio and runs to the northern end of the lake connecting the small rural settlements scattered along the slopes on the west side of the lake.
During the first part of your walk you will find the signs of both trails as, for a small stretch, they follow the same itinerary.
Leave the village Breglia behind you and enter the woods. Cross a small wooden bridge near the spring of Troi and then continue uphill. You reach the area called Ponte where the path leads on to a small road, which you follow downhill to the pastures of “La Piazza”. At the intersection where there is a little, chapel, called “del Bergum” turn right. The 4 Valley Trail leads immediately again to the right, the Via dei Monti Lariani continues straight on, so turn right.
The cart track leads through the pasture field and then enters the woods. It passes the area called Ferée and then reaches Monti Dosso, with a beautiful view of Lake Como and of the Val Sanagra valley. Here follow the cart track leading down to the right. You enter the Val Sanagra on a trail half way up the steep south west face of Monte Grona. You reach a fork above Monti Tampiglia, continue to the right. The path leads uphill and crosses some streams, and then turns to the west face of Monte Grona. You now enter a wooded area called Bosco di Varòo. You walk among tall trees with thick undergrowth and after crossing the stream Varòo, the path leads on to a vast meadow, just below the restored mountain hut of the ancient farm Alpe Varòo. Ascend the meadow in order to reach the continuation of the path. After a stretch through thick woods with lots of high conifers and beech trees the path reaches the river Sanagra, which you can cross without any problems if the water is at a normal level. Then the trail goes up steeply and comes out on the cart track leading up from Naggio.
Follow this track downhill for about 1.5 km to the pastures of Alpe Erba. Continue downhill on the cart track for another kilometre, then leave it and pick up a cart-track closed by a bar on the right. Follow this track uphill and you arrive at the beautiful pasture of Alpe Logone, which is the watershed between the Sanagra and the Cavargna valleys. You cross the pasture adorned with beautiful beech trees in a straight line. The recently restored farm house, up on the right produces excellent cheese.
At the far end of Alpe Logone pick up the cart-track leading up to the right and after about 100 meters you reach a small parking place. The ones continuing the walk turn right and continue per second section below. Those spending the night at Malè must turn left; Locanda Maria at the far end of the village offers accommodation and meals.
Reach Cusino where you can get the bus to Menaggio.
The second section of the walk is the longest and leads completely through the wide catchment basin of the Val Cavargna valley, rich in water and vegetation and with ancient settlements surrounded by mountains more than 2.000 m high.
From the car park just before the hamlet Malè pick up the wide track that leads up to Alpe Rozzo. Leave it almost at once and pick up the trail to the left that leads through the woods. The trail runs downhill across numerous streams, and then reaches the bridge over the river Cuccio di San Bartolomeo. The trail then leads uphill through the woods to the green meadowland of the village Costa. Keep to the upper part of the village and follow the path that leads uphill and eventually reaches the road. Cross it and pick up the continuation of the path, which passes the house called Selva. Just past the house pick up the path to the right, that leads through chestnut woods and beech woods. You meet the mule track leading up from San Bartolomeo and follow it to the left to the settlement of Vraccia. At the beginning of the village go up to the right in order to reach the church. Just above the little church, you once again reach the road that finishes at the neighbouring settlement Oggia. Cross the road and walk through this charming village following the signs on the houses.
From Oggia the path leads over steeply sloping meadows, to Piazza Mezzana in Val dei Molini. When you get close to the stream, it goes down to the left and soon reaches a concrete footbridge over the stream in the Val dei Molini. Here you will notice the entrance of an old abandoned iron mine used till the end of the 19th century. The path then follows the right side of Val dei Molini, continues uphill and passes through the upper part of Darni.
Here the trail ends onto the road leading up from San Bartolomeo, which you follow uphill for about 300 meters. Taking the path on left, you can reach Pizzo di Gino and Cima Pianchetta.
The trail enters the Val di Lana valley and without any difficulty, you cross the stream. After a stretch of about 300 meters, at a fork, pick up the path to the right, which leads steeply uphill to a beautiful viewpoint. You then soon reach Tecchio, where there are some wooden bungalows and a fountain. The path leads on to the rural road, which leads up, from the town San Nazzaro to the pastures of Piazza Vacchera passing by the mountain shelter Rifugio Croce di Campo.
Cross the rural road and pick up the trail that leads into a pinewood. The path reaches a waterworks cabin, where there is a fountain. Here you pick up the trail on the left, which runs around the Val Ruina half way up the slope. Just out of the conifer woods near another waterworks cabin, you pick up the trail to the left and follow it slightly downhill. Go right and keep to the upper part of the settlement; direct yourself to an isolated white house on the ridge; keep to the left of the house, and pick up the trail near a birch tree. The path then goes off in the direction of Valle Piazza. Follow the trail, passing Monti Bezzaco, Monti Gromia and Monti Carava. Going slightly downhill, you descend to the river Cuccio di Cavargn. A bridge makes it possible to cross the river.
The trail then ascends, through a thick state forest plantation. Then going downhill and crossing another stream you get on to the mule track leading up from Cavargna.
After a stretch through beautiful woods, you arrive at Cavargna, the highest town in the province of Como. The bus stop is 50 meters past the church.
This section of the trail leaves the Val Cavargna just below the mountain pass S. Lucio (on the Swiss/Italian border) and enters the green and wooded Val Rezzo passing through the village Seghebbia. From there it goes on through the rocky Valsolda.
Cavargna, can be reached by bus line C14 from Menaggio or Porlezza. Leave Cavargna through the upper part of the town; after crossing the bridge over the stream in the Val Molino, the trail ascends the opposite side of the valley. At the fork turn right and follow the track through the pastures to the top of the slope to the settlement Monti Coloné, from where the view embraces the valley of Cavargna.
From Monti Coloné keep to the cart track, which enters the woods and leads to Roccoli situated on the watershed between Val Cavargna and Val Rezzo. The trail meets the cart track leading up from Buggiolo to Passo San Lucio. You follow it downhill to the left, to the fountain near the chapel, from where there is a lovely view of the Valrezzo. You leave the cart track and pick up the path to the right, which descends through a beautiful beech wood. You then cross a stream just before getting to some farmhouses situated above the village of Seghebbia. Pass through the town (follow the signs on the houses) and then follow the road for about 50 meters. Just past the cemetery leave the road and descend to the right. Walk through the green meadows, passing some farmhouses, to a stream. Cross the stream and follow the ascending trail through the woods, which ends in a beautiful clearing with an antique farmhouse.
The path then enters a beautiful little valley that connects Val Rezzo with Valsolda. It leads through a beech wood to end up at Pralugno. At the end of the meadow, the trail re-enters the woods, crosses a stream and leads to Alpe Riccola, where the farmhouse has been recently restored. The landscape here resembles the Dolomites.
The path follows the stream of the Val Riccola and leads to a narrow passage where you leave Val Rezzo and enter Valsolda. The trail then descends giving views of the Lake Lugano basin.
The trail now goes down steeply, closed in by the valley, and passes some cabins with picnic area, which are part of the Nature Reserve Valsolda. From here, a comfortable cart track that passes along the gorges of the valley leads down to Rancò. Reach Dasio following the path down. From Dasio there is a conncetion to Porlezza, then to Menaggio.