Ride time: 5 hours // Fitness: Level 3 // Skill: Level C
Read more about our fitness and skill grading system.
The Passa Notta ride is the most epic mountain bike route for visitors to Lake Garda. Starting out from Riva on the old road called Via Panale which takes us into the Ledro valley. Here in the Ledro valley we stop for lunch at the side of Lago di Ledro before taking on the steepest and hardest part of the climb to Bocca dei Fortini. Once on the ridge, we make our way to the Refuge at Passa Notta. At 1200 meters Passa Nota was a key military vantage point during the first world war and the artillery which rests along the past is a constant reminder! Form Passa Nota it's all downhill to Riva along some of the best single track trails in the area.
The ride can be broken into two parts, the climb, then the descent. So once we put the hard work in at the start, we can reap the rewards. The starting point for this ride is Riva Del Garda. Here head out on the flat road on the western side of the lake for approximetly 200 meters before we turn off on the "Old Road" called Via Panale. This is the first time we ride off road. The local council have actually dumped soil and gravel onto the road to make it better for bikers and walkers.
We continue to climb up along the waters edge, weaving our way along the contours of the cliff face that towers above the lake. The galleries or tunnels offer a nice cool break from the sun as it can get quite hot down by the lake during the day. The old road trail can be seen from any of the towns along the northern end of the lake. Look for a scar like ridge reaching down to the south of the lake and thats it! After 30 minutes of the old road climb we turn off up into the Ledro valley. On turning we are met by a very pleasant tail wind which keeps us cool and pushes us up the hill a little!
The next stop is Lago di ledro, along a really nice rolling trail to a height of 650 meters. Here we usually break for lunch at the lake side and soak up the atmosphere. After a nice relaxing pit stop and some photos we move onwards for the last stretch of the climb. This section climbs for 6 kilometres, so there is no rush. Once everyone paces themselves and keeps drinking and eating well, its very manageable indeed. As we crest over the "Chima" in italian or peak of Bocca dei Fortini we instantly feel the fresh air and cooling breeze brought about by Lake Garda's very own micro climate. From here we make our way to along the contour to Refugo Pass Notta, the farthest and highest point on oure mountain bike ride!
At the top there is the option to stop at the Refuge where they offer water and wine to mountain travellers. The most amazing thing about this refuge is that is is operated on a trust basis! There is nobody minding the shop, just a collection bucket when you leave what you feel is appropriate. Its a great system and really says it all about the mountain culture in Italy.
Its all downhill from here, but before we depart, we roll over to the emergency helli pad and take the most stunning photos of the view. This is one of the best vantage points in all of Garda as you can see! The following trail gives us goose bumps just thinking about it. It's one of those happy trails you could just ride over and over again! A perfect mix of soil, sand, rock. The first few kilometres contour the mounatin, flowing along really nicely.
Half way down the descent we arrive at Passa Rochetta, another famous destination in the mountains above Lago di Garda. We have two options at this point, one a steep rocky trail with loose turns and some serous sideways action, the second a more mellow gradient but more fun! You can really let loose on this descent and hit some nice little drop lines. The most fun of all is trying to ride the smart lines and look super smooth.
We pull up at a water stop under the trees for some refreshments because there is so much descending we can barely hold on any longer! The next section, in keeping with the ever changing Garda trails, turns down an old dried up river bed. This is a super flowing trail where you're just letting go of the brakes and taking everything the trail throws at you.
Pregisina is the next town on our list and the last before we arrive back to Lago di Garda. More picturess and more drinks here ; ) before we ride cruise down through back gardens and hidden path ways. To end the cycle we pop down onto the old road Via Panale again, this time with gravity by our side so its much more fun this time, sweeping the turns and bombing the banks back down to Riva.
What follows next is the most important part of any All Mountain Experience mountain bike ride. ICE CREAM TIME!! We stop off at a great spot called Flora which sells only the best homemade Italian Gelato, where the actual ice cream looks better in real life then it does in the menu. Big smiles all around, what a great day.