General notes on our trip: June 2015
Great routes exist but some are hard to find without detailed information. Routes through chestnut and beech woods are often covered with deep leaf litter that can conceal loose rocks and holes. We have marked mountainbike routes on a scale of zero to three stars, à la Michelin. Three stars is worth a special trip, two stars a detour, one star worth doing if youre nearby. Zero stars is dont bother. We have not given scores to road or gravel-road routes.
For Garfagnana the best source of information is Daniele Saisis website. We also used the Kompass maps which are pretty good but many footpaths marked dont really exist, and many good paths are not shown. There are two maps that cover the area, no 646 covers a small area south of Castelnuovo and the bigger one no 2451 covers all that and much further north as well. They do disagree. The bigger one seems more comprehensive and certainly it marks more so-called cycle routes but in some places the other map 646 is more accurate.
At the end of the week we finally got round to visiting the tourist office, who were quite well informed. Although there is not much documented information the lady there suggested a couple of rides, suggested Wikiloc and also the route of Danieles two-day Garfagnana Epic.
For Lunigiana it is harder to find routes. We found a route on Wikiloc, and a video of a group doing the Via Francigena, which looks fun. Theres a website for Lunigiana mountainbiking but the routes look quite tame and non-technical.
Note on GPS: we didnt have a bicycle GPS unit when we went to Garfagnana. We pored over Wikiloc to get the gist of Daniele Saisis routes and tried to follow them afterwards, sometimes without success. After getting home we eventually bought a unit and also wrote some web software for editing and displaying routes. Not having tracks of our own we downloaded some of Danieles from Wikiloc and put them (lightly edited) on our own website. The labels and photos were added some months after our return so their positioning may not be exact.
Sun 14, morning (18km, 500m ascent)
AntiscianaSillicano, track linking to Poggio-Careggini road. Decent rugged double-track through woods (*).
Afternoon (33km, 775m)
Tried to find CAI no34 from Roggio Puglianella Valle Vigne but its overgrown and abandoned.
Notes: Daniele records 5hr 27' for this route starting at Castelnuovo;
our ride time was 6hr 35' from Antisciana (which slightly shortens it though it adds a
sharp climb at the end).
The gravel road after Verni is a few hundred metres after the Agriturismo Summer. It is a newish and well made track but unsignposted, and not on the 2451 map. It peters out at a fork, where theres an ambiguous GTE sign. We took the right fork which was a little too steep to ride and came out at a clearing, from where another doubletrack leads to San Luigi (not named on the new Kompass 2451, but it is on the 646). Path 111 was overgrown and challenging, and we didnt bother with the Sopra-Sotto path. The gravel road to Foce Pompanello was undergoing a big reconstruction after a landslide. The path down to Trassilico has a few diversions from the gravel road. The Zappello descent is quite hard, despite being marked as medio.
When we reached the valley we followed a path parallel to the road back to Gallicano.
Road to Casatico, then good old gravel road to Roggio marked as Via del Funghi or something. The Kompass map marks a track to Casciana as a possible mtb route. It was hard to find and we think we got the right path but its horribly overgrown and derelict so we turned back. Instead we rode up the gravel road to above Vagli, which presents you with great views. On descent we followed paths through Isola and Roccalberti, nice route.
Notes: Daniele did a longer version of this route. Our GPS track chops
off the parts of his route we didnt do but we havent attempted to add the joining section.
Thurs 18: Pieve FoscianaP. delle ForbiciP. delle RadiciLe LameBarca (***) (56km, 1630m)
Great ride. Main road to the Albergo Casone di Profecchia, then turn L after a few 100m to follow gravel road to Passo delle Forbici. The main road is very quiet. From here gravel road to Passo Giovarello, in woods then in the open, then onto the ridge path thats a push at first, then a lovely ride in meadows, though in a little narrow rut at times. Then into the woods where its great fun even if you have to push some of the steeper ups. All well signposted. Near the end you join a double track. Albergo Lunardi at Passo delle Radici is wonderfully old fashioned and has good food.
Then gravel road along ridge, just below ridge, in the open, very nice. At Le Lame (unmanned refuge) CAI 46 starts. This is brilliant. Its well marked but we slightly went off line at one point. It has a spell as a double track then theres a lovely technical section out in the open on quite a precipice, followed by some delicious tricky rocky obstacles. We came out at a saddle where theres a house. We think Danieles Epic has a bit more on the path from here but we just took the road back. Its a great little road.
A bit useless. Rode up Montaltisso to GT/CAI 127 junction. Descended on GT/133 to just below San Antonio, which must be nice as a walk but was mostly a push for us. Some good views. GT path follows the road now which is boring, boring, until just after Le Piane where it forks right away from the road and theres a lovely steep bendy section, obviously well used by mountainbikes.
In the morning Colins gel saddle finally exploded in icky fashion and Colin had to do the mornings ride with a section of cut up inner tube repair. In the afternoon we went to the bike shop. We rode into town via the Pontecosi reservoir, where theres a nice bit of single. We went to the tourist office, got the Epic map and followed its a route round the Fortezza Alfonso, and across from Buggina to Antisciana all on interesting paths (*). None of these paths are marked on Kompass.
Sat 20: Ugo Park (21km, 680m)
Transfer day to Baccana. We thought wed try out Ugo Park. Drove to Corfino, found a rider-made route (*) down to Pianacci but couldnt find the continuation and gave up. Rode back on the road, lunch at the Albergo Panoramico. This had an interesting consequence...
... which was we discovered wed left a bag at the Albergo, and had to drive back to pick it up. To rescue the day we devised a ride in the Orecchielle park. From Lamarossa, the Airone 3 path down to the visitor centre. (We first took the wrong path, marked with a blue square, but this was fun anyway.)
Mon 22: ComanoPasso Giove (23km, 820m)
Tried to find Grande Ippovia trail from Lagastrello to Comano which is advertised on a map in Comano, but we couldnt find any sign of it from the Giove pass nor the Lagastrello. It also rained. Back in the village we met Ian, who told us about the route to Bastia.
Rained in morning. In Afternoon rode Ians walk to Bastia and back, all of 7.73km, total. A nice doubletrack with some testing climbs.
From Pallerone, rode up through . Down the road a little towards Canepari then right up gravel road back to ridge. Along here, past former bar, to picnic table where an unmarked but irresistible looking trail leads. We followed it. Mostly benign but with a fearsome chute. Turns out its the course of a local Enduro. At junction at Prulla, course continues down, we forked left where there was a choice, I think following the marked footpath. Some pretty difficult sections to come. But overall a great find.
Followed route exactly as described by Daniele. Parked at Magliano, then rode up to Rif M Tondo. Theres a steep climb in the woods then youre out in meadows. It becomes a narrow path on the left, then the right of the ridge, which is lovely riding. In and out of woods to the Belfiore pass. Back into the woods, a long push up then out on a precipitous narrow path that leads to a formidable piece of rock. Quite an obstacle. After this its still scarily narrow, part of the danger being catching pedals in the shrubbery. It relents and enters the woods to a lovely extended downhill section to the Cavolsella pass. Here its up to the Pradarena pass where for once we have lunch at a reasonable time.
We rode up to Varano on the other side of the valley, then followed the high gravel road to Panicale. Then road to Bagnone. Bagnone is an attractive little old town thats not too touristy. From here to Virgoletta, a very beautiful old village. Then followed the Via Francigena. At first is goes up an overgrown steep path which turns into doubletrack, somehow we went off course but regained the trail at the road. Now its a wide track but tricky descent, a ford, and a long tough uphill. Thats followed by a gravel section (look for the singletrack on the right that we think cuts a corner) and this turns into an ancient way through the woods. Very pleasant.
We came out at the road near Fornoli, and muddled our way to Amola. From here theres a steep road climb to Molesana where theres a dirt road through to Panicale. This is slightly non-obvious, its to the left of a farm, and we had to ask the way at the farm. Its a steep uphill and quite hard but its a nice route. Then back on the Varano road. Apparently theres a short cut down from Varano to the Maesta junction, but it was late and we were more interested in lunch.