Ride time: 5 hours // Fitness: Level 3 // Skill: Level C
Read more about our fitness and skill grading system.
At a height of 2060 meters, Mt Altissimo is located beside Mt Blaldo on the eastern side of Lake Garda. The Mt Altissimo Epic is one of the most famous bike rides around Lake Garda. The popular Malcesnie Gondola provides easy access and takes most of the climbing out too! The refuge at the top is open during the summer months and warmly welcomes mountain bikers through its doors for some hot food and refreshing drinks. In 1905 the Refuge at Mt Altissimo became a base for Italian troops during World War I, and as a result the peak is littered with trenches and bunkers.
The starting point for this ride is the lake side town of Malcesnie. We provide a shuttle service with collection points at Torbole and Riva del Garda to avoid using the main road as it can be quite busy durig the summer months. Once the bikes are unloaded at the Gondola we are on our way. The Gondola from the lake to Mt Baldo takes just 15 minutes and we generally pick our ride times to avoid rush hour queues. The views from the Gondola itself are spectacular, one can look out over the disappearing lake as we climb and climb- without the pain!
The top Gondola station is at a height of 1760 meters and you feel the sharpness of the air as you exit the building. After a few essential photos we roll on down the road and make our way to the Mt Altsimo climb. The off road trail starts at refuge Graziani where we often stop for a coke or coffee break because it's all climbing from here on up to Refuge Altissimo! Typically it takes about and hour to get to the top, at a leisurely pace. The climb starts off on quite a steep fire road but soon turns to switchbacks which really take the sting out. The views from this climb overlooking Brentonico are just stunning. It really is the hidden alpine valley with the "Baby Dolimites" as the locals call them, but believe us, when you come from Ireland these are monster mountains!
Arriving to the summit to the 360 degree breath taking view makes the effort all worthwhile. A few photos are must up here and the sense of accomplishment is second only the desire to rest against the bar at refuge Altissimo! A full menu is available and the refuge even sleeps 20 people if you wish to stay the night. But for us bikers, the best bit is yet to come, the 2000 meter descent! We take the famous 601 trail off the top and follow the ever changing trail down.
The first section of the trail is loose rock switch back that are the most fun ever to ride! Coming out of this section we hit a grassy meadow and carry all our speed and momentum into the next section of opens turns. There are plenty of nice little rock drops and smooth grassy dips to pop off, if your looking for some air time!
Unfortunitely the Trentino Region has just had the heaviest snow fall in over 15 year and as a result a lot have trees have blocked the lower sections of the 601. But that's ok because we aim to arrive back to Malcesnie by bike anyway, so we must turn off onto the 6 trail. The 6 trails was initially built as an access route for the first world war but has since lent itself to being a smooth flowing mountain bike trail. There are rocky switchback turns, loose gravel, and some leafy single track, so there is something for everyone on this trail.
We pop out onto and old cobbled road just above Navene, a short pedal from Malcesine where we started out. So thats the Mt Altissimo ride, it's a great spin with a technical descent. Once you pace yourself and take the climb at your own pace, the views and descent are just the best.