Gran Paradiso National Park
Step into Paradise!
by Roberto Calcagno
If you live in Turin (or are just visiting), mountaneering could become a way of life. There are literally hundreds of valleys in the Alps that you can reach from this beautiful city in the Northwest of Italy in a couple of hours by car. After 20 years of hikes and exploration I still have lots of places to discover in Piedmont!
My passion for hiking started when I was a child and, with my family, we spent our summers in Gran Paradiso National Park. After all these years of wandering in the Alps, Gran Paradiso is one my favourite places to visit. In all seasons you have a very good reason to go there. Summers are fresh and cool, Autumn is so colorful, Spring is simply amazing and Winter is like a snowy fairy tale.
Enjoy Hiking in the Gran Paradiso National Park During All Seasons
The great thing is that you can enjoy Gran Paradiso all year long. In the summer it’s a bit busier but you can do longer hikes. During the Spring and Autumn you’ll enjoy the mountain scenery in intimacy. In winter it’s particularly suitable for cross country skiing and ice waterfalls.
Gran Paradiso National Park offers the perfect alpine environment for trekking and hiking with waterfalls, alpine lakes, glaciers and many different valleys to explore. The park offers easy walks as well as challenging climbs along rock walls and iced waterfalls. It is suitable for all mountain lovers and nature enthusiasts.
The park is the eldest and largest national park in Italy and has an amazing bio diversity. From here, ibex could survive and were re-introduced into all of the Alps. Today, you can easily come across ibex, chamois, marmots and eagles.
Vegetation is the typical alpine vegetation with amazing glaciers…always reminding you that you are in a high mountain evnironment. Regarding hiking opportunities, there are lots of different walks fit for every level – from easy hikes in the woods to mountaneering and trekking between valleys.
Gran Paradiso’s territory is partly in the Piedmont region and another part is in Aosta Valley. You can approach the park from one of these two regions. If you want to visit the Piedmont side, you’ll need to go to Locana Valley. If you want to enter from Aosta valley side, you should go to the Cogne Valley. While, for climbers, probably the best part to recommend is in the Piedmont section. For hikers and families the Cogne Valley is more suitable.
Cogne is a tiny village in the middle of the mountains. There are no elevators for skiers and the fact that the area has been a National park since the 1920’s protected the area from overurbanization of the valley. Because mass market tourism in the mountains comes from ski resorts, Cogne preserved its intimacy and spirit through the years. The locals still work mainly in pasturing and cultivation even though tourism certainly brought an important income to the valley.
There are so many places to recommend to hike. I became a hiking Guide 3 years ago and now I am very happy to have the opportunity to hike with my clients in Gran Paradiso many times a year. I find this work to be very valuable as I help travelers discover the amazing beauty of the Italian Alps. In the hikes, I propose different options but I mainly organize trekking for many days from rifugio to rifugio (a rifugio is a place hikers can stop for food and shelter between hikes).
Enjoying the sunset and sunrise for many days in the mountains is the experience I like the most in my life and I feel so lucky I could turn this passion into a job! Going back to basics for a few days is an important experience for everyone and usually people coming back from a hike in Gran Paradiso (as well as from other areas of Piedmontese Alps) are just amazed. The most common comment is: ”This is the best experience I have ever had”!…
If you prefer to have a peaceful hike by yourself. you can go from Cogne to Valmiana in the Aosta part while, from Noasca, you can visit the picturesque waterfall and walk to the rifugio Noasca or to the Dress Lake – starting from Ceresole Reale. In order to do this hike you need a little bit of experience, a good map…be prepared for an adventure and a step into paradise!
For more about Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso
About Guest Contributor: Roberto Calcagno
I was born in Torino 30 years ago and after many adventures I settled here again. I am originally a Telecommunications Engineer. I travelled quite a lot studying in Chile and Thialand for a couple of years. I’ve always loved nature and especially the Alps and I changed my career to be a hiking guide some years ago. Now I work full time as a Guide, for Trekking Alps, bringing hikers all year round to the magnificent mountains next to Torino, including Gran Paradiso National Park.
Featured photo top of page by: Massimo Pinca