From San Bernardo, follow the flat street until the bridge over the Rasiga River, go up to the first bend where the trail (part of the Grande Traversata delle Alpi, or GTA) begins, climbing into the woods along the hillside until reaching Alpe Casariola. Following the edges of a burnt forest, you will reach Alpe Dorca, a good place for a nice panoramic view. Continue on, passing over a ridge and then heading up again for high altitude meadows, towards the simple wood cross of Alpe Variola above, with large chalets (baite) in stone. Leave the GTA trail here and follow the faint traces that climb (with the sign indicating “Sentiero dei laghi” - “trail of the lakes” in English) over grassy crags and rocks smoothed by ice. You’ll first reach the intermediary lakes of Variola and the larger lake of Variola, in a pretty basin where you can still see the signs left by the force of glaciers. If you’d like, you may follow the trails that border the lake on its western shores and then, once over a scree, reach the col called Bocchetta del Rovale, which offers a spectacular view of the Divedro Valley, Cistella and Mount Leone.
Returning on the same arrival trail, instead of descending to Alpe Variola, follow the signs for “Sentiero dei laghi” in the direction of the Lakes of Paione (Laghi di Paione). The trail is at times not very evident, and it ascends up the hillside until climbing over a ridge. It then descends down a steep trail until coming to the small signpost that indicates the junction for Dorca located on a second ridge. Head towards the Lakes of Paione by taking the now-evident trail that skirts the burnt forest followed by a long stretch along a rather torturous hillside, then reaching the rocky basin of lower Lake Paione. From here, along trail D10, quickly descend to Alpe Paione. To return from San Bernardo from the grassy hills either follow the paved street or, after descending to the lower part of the ample clearing, continue on to the trail that enters the woods. Once you arrive at the junction with the trail taken on the way out, which arrives to the first bend in the street above the Rasiga River bridge.
Notes: This route’s severe, wild natural environment is satisfying because it contrasts with the sweet, serene harmony of other parts of the valley. Be careful if it’s foggy, as the trail signage is rather lacking.
Last update: 06/03/2018 ore 15:05:28