The Ponale trail in Riva del Garda: a wonderful cycling route
The Ponale trail, in Trentino region, is a must try for any skilled biker. This bikeway offers spectacular views on Lake Garda (that is even known as Lake of Benaco) and is recommended both to mountain bikers and hikers.
The origins of the Ponale trail
Ponale trail was designed in 1847, at the time it represented a miracle of engineering because, through a series of tunnels and hairpin bends, it allowed a great flow of people and goods in the valley.
This is the origin of one the most spectacular landscapes and historical stretches of the Alto Garda (Upper Garda).
The first cars passed through it in 1891 and the road was used until 1990, when the current one was inaugurated. Later, the road was closed and reopened in 2004 to allow cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the amazing panorama.
Along the climb, which measures about 10 kilometers (24 kilometers starting from Riva del Garda), there are numerous burrows, tunnels and Austro-Hungarian fortifications erected first to prevent the descent of Garibaldi troops from the Ledro valley towards Garda and then to defend the border of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with Italy before the First World War.
The Tagliata del Ponale or Forte Teodosio is a labyrinth of corridors and military trenches dug into the stone: the first 4 km of the rampart are overlooking the Garda, a truly unique panorama.
The description of the route
The route that we suggest starts from the historic center of Riva del Garda. Follow the lakefront Gabriele d’Annunzio, continue to the massive hydroelectric power station and reach the Gardesana motorway tunnel.
The beginning of the Ponale trail, which runs along the rocky walls of Monte Rocchetta, to the right of the tunnel. (trail sign D01, Via del Ponale, Ledro). You need about 2 hours (one way) to reach the Ponale waterfall.
Here, the road becomes paved and you may decide whether to continue towards the village of Pregasina, with its panoramic terrace and the statue of Regina Mundi (2 kilometers), or the Valle di Ledro (7 kilometers).
Valle del Ledro
The lake of Ledro is beautiful, here you can visit the Museum of the Stilt Houses which exhibits the archaeological finds of a prehistoric settlement. The whole lake is bordered by a cycle path (10 km).
Tagliata del Ponale
As mentioned above, the Tagliata del Ponale is rampart built by Austrians in 1860. The fortress is carved into the stone. It is the most daring work of military architecture of the entire resistance line of the Austro-Hungarian sector.
The complex is distributed on 5 levels and for a rock development of about one kilometer, until it reaches the level of the Lake. It is connected to lookouts, shelters, artillery posts that branch out from the last 3 tunnels of the Ponale, descending towards Riva. The maze of tunnels and galleries of La Tagliata cannot be visited.
The Sperone aqueduct
It was built and inaugurated in 1877. The source is no longer connected to the Rivano aqueduct: with the construction of the tunnel to the Val di Ledro at the end of the 1980s the groundwater was compromised, even if at certain times of the year the tunnel and the aqueduct can be flooded by the spring water.
The Ponale Waterfall
It’s possible to reach the base of the Ponale waterfall by following a path, not signposted, located near the Belvedere Restaurant.
Departure: Riva del Garda
Finish: Riva del Garda
Length: 25 kilometers
Recommended bike: mountain bike
Uphill altitude difference: 150 meters
Downhill altitude difference: 100 meters
Highest point: 657 meters
Lowest point: 66 meters