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Refuge Prati del Vallone – Pontebernardo

Tipologia percorso



Anello delle Valli Stura Maira e Varaita

Dislivello in salita

1.150 m

Dislivello in discesa

1.550 m

Tempo complessivo

7 h

In senso inverso

8 h

Prati del Vallone 1712 m – Colle di Stau 2500 m – Rio di Forneris 1888 m – Colletto a sud dei Becchi Rossi 2235 m – Murens 1567 m – Pontebernardo 1322 m

This section is a bit long but not too tiring thanks to the good mule tracks which enable you to overcome considerable altitude gaps without any excessive strain on the legs. The landscape is very interesting with remarkable glimpses of the upper Valle Stura and the Stura-Maira watershed. Rich flora, especially in the first part of the itinerary, and fauna. In addition to this, the itinerary crosses one of the most important fortified complexes of the western Alpine arc.

From Refuge Prati del Vallone 1712 m, follow the road, still suitable for carriages for a short stretch (P 31), which passes near the Fontana della Salute and then rises (southbound) towards the upper valley of Pontebernardo. At an altitude of approximately 1780 m, the cart track ends and you take the beautiful mule track (P32) which with some hairpin bends, first towards the west and then towards the north, rises between small rocks and alder bushes with a completely peaceful route. Worth noting throughout the area, in addition to the abundant flowering (three species of lilies, gentians, etc.), is the presence of the rare and endemic wild artichoke (Rhaponticum scariosum) which alone would justify a trip to those places. After the first series of hairpin bends, the P 32 mule track rises up the steep slopes of the Panieris hill while the GTA itinerary (P 23) crosses some small streams and good sunny pastures and reaches Gias di Stau 2069 m, leaving the rocky coast on the left delle Garbe di Stau, and enters the valley of the same name which descends onto the Prati del Vallone which can be seen below.

To go up the glacial moraine and the wide alpine pastures, the mule track, always with a relaxing route, begins a new series of hairpin bends. Source. At the top left, clinging to the buttresses of Mount Peiron, you can see the military barracks, the only visible part of the imposing underground fortifications present throughout the area. A little further on, on the left, under the rocks, you will find a long barracks still fairly well preserved, then the mule track turns to the right and, among ruins of military buildings, faces the last climb that leads to Colle di Stau 2500 m; 2.30 hours. Good panoramic point over the pastures above Ferrere and the Stura-Maira watershed: Oronaye, Rocca la Meja, etc.

From Colle di Stau a path (P 33) begins the descent into the Forneris valley, first leaning to the left and then decidedly to the right (north). In the first stretch the path is a little difficult due to the steep slope and unstable terrain, but immediately afterwards it reaches the restful pastures of Comba del Pilone. The pastures are a little degraded and at times the trail is less evident due to the marshy ground and the presence of rhododendrons.

At an altitude of 2083 m, you leave the ruins of an ancient mountain pasture on the right and begin the descent into the narrow valley following a well-marked path that follows a long series of narrow zig-zags. Without reaching the large and flat Forneris Valley, the path then bears to the right and with a stretch halfway up the hill reaches the wooden bridge over the Rio Forneris 1888 m; 1.15 hours. This bridge allows you to continue on the itinerary (P 33) and reach, with an extremely easy and relaxing route, the town of Ferrere with its interesting construction typology. The GTA itinerary continues on the right orographic side (you do not cross the bridge!) with an initially flat route (source), on a wide mule track that was once traveled by smugglers who went from the middle Stura Valley to France via the Colle del Ferro, where an ancient salt route also passed. When the mule track begins the climb with some hairpin bends among the larches, the village of Ferrere appears behind it with the ancient access mule track going up the valley below which took its name from the mines existing there. After passing a comba, the mule track crosses the woods on a flat route and reaches (2042 m) a grassy clearing with ruins of an ancient mountain pasture. Upstream from the clearing (the last source before Murens) the mule track zigzags again among sparse larches and you soon reach the collar 2235 m located south of the Becchi Rossi, a rocky spur which owes its name to the color of the slate rocks; 1.15 hours. Arriving at the collar, note the profile of the rock on the left which looks extraordinarily like a mighty bull. On the right of the hill there is a fort connected by galleries and tunnels with those we will encounter further down.

We continue the descent to Pontebernardo following the mule track which, with wide bends, proceeds through the larch forest rich in undergrowth. Near the road there are powerful bunkers built with a great expenditure of public money to block the upper Stura valley, considered tactically very important judging by the fortifications that can be seen almost everywhere. Towards the halfway point of the descent you come across the first flat clearings and you soon reach the wide meadow saddle that leads to Murenz 1567 m, a group of houses set in a beautiful position overlooking the villages of Pontebernardo and Pietraporzio; Murenz derives from “mure” which means face, as the area seen in profile gives the idea of a human face. Once you reach this town, you leave the carriage road which takes too long a circuit, and take the old path which, with a few steep towers, leads to Pontebernardo and to the Le Barricate 1322 Refuge Stopover. Once you reach this town, you leave the carriage road which takes too long a circuit, and take the old path which, with a few steep towers, leads to Pontebernardo and to the Le Barricate 1322 Hiking Refuge Stopover. Once you reach this town, you leave the carriage road which takes too long a circuit, and take the old path which, with a few steep towers, leads to Pontebernardo and to the Le Barricate Refuge Stopover 1322 m; 2.00 hours.