Grandiose and challenging, this loop hike leads to the discovery of the lakes in the upper Antrona Valley. It is best to follow the route in a counter-clockwise direction. From the small car park below, cross the Campliccioli Dam and turn left to take the tunnel that leads to the ENEL utility plant. Follow along the flatland until the bridge over the Banella River. From here the uphill climb begins, which becomes increasingly difficult: only the basin of Alpe Banella grants a rare moment of rest before the final surge, which ends at the Camposecco dam. From the boarding point of the funicular, descend along the wheel-track until arriving to the cement walkway extending over flat ground for approximately 1.5 km (0.9 mi) until the long (2 km / 1.2 mi), narrow service tunnel for ENEL which contains a pipeline. There is a switch at the entrance to the tunnel to provide some illumination, but it is still strongly advised to carry a torch. It is damp and cold in the tunnel, and for safety purposes, wearing a protective helmet is also recommended. Once outside the tunnel, continue on the flat trail until you arrive below the dam, where the path climbs quickly and then crosses the dam, arriving at the guard house.
From there, begin the rapid descent to the panoramic viewpoint of Alpe Cingino, then cross the large valley to reach the ridge of Alpe Saler. Head steeply downhill again to Alpe Lombraoro, crossing through a larch forest with a number of monumentally-sized trees. Once you’ve reached the valley floor, continue on the left bank as it descends along the valley with a slight slope. The torrent of crystal-clear water will accompany for a long stretch. Pass the pretty clearing of Alpe Casalavera, head into the woods until Lake Campliccioli, then cross the bridge over the Troncone Creek. Proceed by following along the eastern bank of the lake. You’ll stumble upon the tracks of the old Decauville railway that was used for the transport of materials when the dam was being built. Follow the rails to quickly arrive to the departure platform for the funicular to Camposecco and, from there, descend to the car park below the Campliccioli Dam.
Notes: There are two bivouacs, one at Cingino Lake and another at Camposecco Lake, both operated by CAI Villadossola (tel. +39 0324 575245, www.caivilladossola.net).
Last update: 06/03/2018 ore 15:35:13