by Cindy Doyle
Trails in the Gressoney Valley
Sentieri del Lys
There are any number of amazing trails in Gressoney. For example, the Sentieri del Lys on its’ own would make for a wonderful running trip. It is suggested that walkers hike it over 9 days and there are options to make the route more, or less, challenging. How many days you can do it in, depends obviously on the ability of your group.
As we arrived into Milan Malpensa around lunch-time, we used a shuttle bus transfer to bring us Coumarial (1450m), where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch with Stefano and his staff in the Bar Ristoro Coumarial.
Stefano speaks excellent English and is also a mine of information on the area. He became our guide for the afternoon as we stretched our post-travel legs by running up above Leretta (1788) to link up with the Sentieri del Lys and the Alta Via 1. Although it was only an afternoon leg stretch, the mountains were taunting us, giving us glimpses of what was to come. Tempting us to ignore our awaiting shuttle bus and keep running.
If you decide to run the Sentieri del Lys or part of it, I would recommend staying a night in the ancient Walser village(s) of Niel-Gruba. The accommodation found in Dortoir La Gruba looks extremely comfortable (I had a sneaky peek into one of the bedrooms while searching for the loo) and having sampled a sumptuous traditional meal here, I can vouch for the food too! Whoever thought cauliflower could be a cake??? They do have a guest kitchen also, so you could self-cater if you want.
The Giant’s Trail
Alternatively, for more of a mountain experience, you can opt to stay in one of the mountain huts as outlined in the guidebook for sections 4 and 5 of the Giant’s Trail (Alta Via 1). If you do opt for this method though, baggage transfers may not be an option, so you will need to check this out yourself with Trek Bus and/or the hut themselves. More planning required for sure, and you will have to carry additional kit, but it could help keep the price of your trip down by alternating huts and B&Bs/hotels.
After our afternoon saunter, we took our shuttle bus transfer to Gressoney-La-Trinité to our accommodation at Residence Oberteil. These clean, self-catering apartments were centrally located and the morning buffet breakfast was as substantial or as minimal as you wished. Our run the following morning left directly from the carpark out front!
The Monte Rosa Walser Trail organisers have great maps on their site. It’s worth taking a look at these as they show many other trails in Gressoney too. The contours and detail of the map are better than you will find elsewhere online and will assist you in your route planning.
Route Suggestions in Valle di Gressoney:
Suggested Route 1: 20km Loop. 1000m elevation gain (approx.):
Run ‘The Walser Trail’ from Gressoney-La-Trinité to Alpenzu Grande. Break for lunch at Rifugio Alpenzu, one of the Tor des Géants ‘life’ stations at Alpenzu Grande.
Alpenzu Grande is one of the ancient Walser villages, their old pastures have been reclaimed by ‘Paysage à Manger’, a local group of Walser enthusiasts who are trying to recreate the old methods of farming and have a deeper connection to the land. It’s possible to meet with Frederico, the brains behind this endeavour to discover more.
Continue running the Walser trail again to reach Gressoney-Saint-Jean, run through the village to the other side, cross the river and follow the easy trail up the valley back to Gressoney-La-Trinité.
Suggested Route 2: 23km Loop with possible add ons. 1600m elevation gain (min, mostly at the beginning.)
From Gressoney-La-Trinité, cross the river to the trail you were on yesterday and run upwards towards Lago Gabiet. The trail follows the Torrente Ruesse. It is a tough upward climb, so you may decide to break for lunch at the Rifugio Gabiet (with lunch options between €8 and €12) or continue on and break instead at the beautiful Orestes Heutte. I didn’t get to visit this hut, but it’s definitely on my wish list!!
From the Orestes Heutte, follow the trail to Colle Salza. If you are doing the route in one day, descend from here down the Salza to Staffal (refreshment options), crossing the river to ascend for a short distance, before making the gentle descent to Gressoney-La-Trinité (approx. 7km from Staffal ski area).
As implied, you can run this route using Gressoney-La-Trinité as a base or you can opt to do this over two days. Running the hard part of the trail as far as the Orestes Heutte, enjoy an afternoon of yoga, massage and pleasant views, spend the night here and continue the route the following morning with the add on options. It is a holiday after all!
If some of the group wish to continue running in the afternoon, but also stay at the hut, there is a track which descends to the lakes and ascends again to Punta Telcio, returning by the same route.
On the second day, there is the option at Colle Salza to elongate the route by running to the summit of Alta Luce (either up and down or in a loop). This section is not as runnable as the rest of the route, it’s more of a trekker’s trail, but the views are worth the effort!
Again, you can view these route options through the trail maps found on the Monte Rosa Walser Trail website.
Suggested Routes to Val d’Ayas:
Other things to do in Valle di Gressoney:
- Visit the Eco Museum in the main square of Gressoney-La-Trinité.
- Enjoy an evening with sommelier Paolo and hostess Alice at Castore Lounge Bar & Restaurant in the main square of Gressoney-La-Trinité.
- Visit the Savoy Castle, Queen Margherita of Savoy’s former residence at Gressoney-Saint-Jean.
- Run more routes.
- Hire a guide and try your hand at mountaineering or via ferrata.
- Come back in winter for snow-shoeing and a variety of skiing.
Sites and PDFs worth looking at:
- Alta Via Trails 1 and 2 of Valle d’Aoste
- Valle d’Aosta official tourism site
- Gressoney-La-Trinité’s community site offers information on summer activities, accommodation in the valley and more.
You can follow Cindy on her own blog at www.GoWild.ie