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Photo ©Paolo Sarteschi
Hiking in the Apuan Alps
10 itineraries for nature lovers
From the Lunigiana to Versilia, passing through the Garfagnana, here are some of the most beautiful routes in the Apuan Alps. High peaks, unique landscapes and exciting experiences.
Castelpoggio – Passo Gabellaccia – Campocecina
Campocecina- Credit:  Michele M.

This is the first leg of the “Alta Via delle Alpi Apuane” trail. It ends at the CAI “Carrara” retreat in Campocecina (1320 m). The entire excursion is divided into eight separate legs that run NE to SE in the Apuan mountains; stops at all of the major mountain retreats are included.

From the main piazza in Castelpoggio (545 m), the route (sineage: CAI 185) initially runs through a small western road that becomes a trail which leads up to the Gabellaccia Pass (MSL 895). Continue in this direction and pass the fork at trail 46 that goes down towards Ponte Storto. The trail runs underneath rock walls that led to caves where traces of primitive dwellings were found, in addition to ruins of the Dogana della Tecchia. It continues to the crest where we find the ancient boarder between the Tuscan Grand Duchy and the Modena Grand Duchy, today crossed by the Campocecina road.

After the road, the trail continues uphill passing underneath a unique rock arch; goes past two deviations with trail 40, and reaches the houses in Acquasparta—once a shepherding hub—before arriving at the private “Belvedere” retreat (1260 m) located at the end of the Campocecina road.  From here, take the small road through the woods to reach the “Carrara” retreat. This is the end of the first leg. The hike is approximately 3/3.5 hours with an 800 m altitude change. Local transportation runs from Campocecina back to Castelpoggio.

Campocecina – Monte Borla – Campocecina

Short excursion from the CAI “Carrara” retreat in Campocecina (1320 m) on trail 173 that crosses the green areas past the retreat. It continues with a pleasant walk through a beech wood.  Shortly after the wood, you will leave the main trail in favor of the one on your right, which leads up to the Casa Martignoni, located in a pleasant spot on the summit of Monte Borla (1469 m).  Views stretch to the Lunigiana, over the Apuan Alps and their marble caves, all the way to the coast. Take the same trails back to the “Carrara” retreat.  The hike takes roughly 1.3 hours, with an altitude difference of 150 m.

Campocecina – Casa Cardato – Foce Pozzi – Foce Ballerino – Campocecina

Circular itinerary that runs along CAI trails 171, 174 and 183. It begins at the CAI “Carrara” retreat in Campocecina (1320 m) on trail 171 which is found at the end of the Campocecina road and the Acquasparta houses. It continues horizontally towards a beech wood which takes you sharply downhill to the Casa Cardato (1100 m), beautifully positioned between large beech trees.

From here, follow trail 174 uphill to the Foce dei Pozzi (1220 m) which boasts a gorgeous view of the Apuan peaks before exiting into the high point of the small Valle dei Pozzi. You are near the entrance to the Pozzi caves, well-known for their speleological interest. The trail continues south before reaching the Foce del Monte Ballerino. From here, you can reach the “Carrara” retreat where the excursion began. The hike takes approximately 3 hours with an altitude difference of 200 m.

Colonnata – Case del Vergheto – Cima d’Uomo – Colonnata

Circle itinerary on CAI trails 38 and 42. From the main piazza in Colonnata (532 m), follow trail 38 that flanks the Canale del Vento up to an ancient chestnut grove that leads to the Case del Vergheto (837 m), once a shepherding hub, where you will find sweeping views of the Apuan Alps.

Beyond the houses, the trail meets the beginning of trail 48 that leads through chestnut woods to a spring—part of the Colonnata branch of the Torrente Carrione. From here, the trail opens up into stairs built into the rock. Once at the dominating crest of the Cima d’Uomo (968 m), take the south trail with beautiful views of the Colonnata caves and the town itself.

At the end of the crest, you will begin going downhill to an abrupt deviation on the right; follow it horizontally and you will reach a rocky coast and a smaller and more bare pine wood. You will reach a side road which you will follow for a bit before bending left towards a rocky incline that leads to the town’s higher point and the piazza where the hike began. The hike takes approximately 3/3.3 hours with an altitude difference of 450 m.

Vinca – Capanna “Garnerone” – Foce Rasori

Itinerary in the upper Valle di Vinca, in notably alpine environment and surrounded by the most well-known peaks in the northern Apuan Alps. The excursion includes CAI trails 38, 173/A, 37. From the town of Vinca (808 m), take trail 38 through the chestnut wood to a unique canyon. Take the nearby small road which leads to the Prada di Vinca and the beautiful views of the Pizzo d’Uccello, Cresta Garnenone and Monte Sagro.

Slightly further ahead at a fork in the road, you will leave trail 38 to take trail 73/A to the Capanna “Garnenone”, a retreat run by CAI Carrara located in a large pine wood at 1260 m. It intersects various other valley trails.  Trail 37 run south alongside trails 173 and 186 and leads through a pine wood to the Foce di Monte Rasori (1320 m) on the main Apuan crest.

There are sweeping views of the Dolomite mountain group Garnerone-Grondilice, the island of Monte Sagro and the Versilia coastline. The hike takes 2 hours 15 minutes with an altitude difference of 550 m.  The trip back to Vinca can be done in 1.5 hours with the same trails; or, in roughly 2 hours by taking trail 37 north to trail 175 which leads down to Vinca.

Equi Terme – Ugliancaldo – Pieve di S. Lorenzo
Grotte Equi Terme
Grotte Equi Terme

Excursion can be done on the train with stops at the stations of Equi Terme (departure) and Pieve San Lorenzo (return).  Aulla-Lucca. CAI trails 176 and 181 run through chestnut groves and the towns near Ugliancaldo.  Argigliano and Pieve San Lorenzo (visit the ancient church of the same name).

From the town of Equi Terme (250 m) the trail runs west; take trail 176 across the Lucido stream and begin to go uphill towards a large chestnut wood until reaching the beautiful town of Ugliancaldo, located on the crest between the Equi Terme valley and the one towards Pieve di San Lorenzo and its vast surroundings. From the town there is a gorgeous view towards the north of Pizzo d’Uccello.

At the “new houses” in Ugliancaldo, the route feeds into trail 181 and begins a long descent in the chestnut grove towards the Pieve San Lorenzo valley.  Towards the end of the descent you arrive at the fork for Casola in the Lunigiana, then in the small town of Argigliano before reaching Pieve di San Lorenzo (368 m).  The hike takes 3 hours 30 minutes with an altitude difference of 500 m.

Foce di Pianza – Vetta del Monte Sagro – Foce di Pianza

Pleasant excursion up to one of the Apuan’s most popular peaks, Monte Sagro (1749 m), which boasts a sweeping view of the Lunigiana, the Appennines, the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian coast.

The hike begins at the Foce di Pianza (MSL 1280) and runs south-east. Follow the signs for CAI trail 172 to Foce della Faggiola (1468 m) running the entire crest that surrounds the Cave del Sagro. The trail then continues towards the peak on another trail (not numbered) that offers splendid views from the Pizzo d’Uccello of the town of Vinca and its valleys. Take the same path back to Foce di Pianza. The hike takes 3 hours with an altitude difference of 500 m.

Pasquilio – Monte Folgorito – Pasquilio

Itinerary in the heart of the Gothic Line. From the “Il Pasquilino” refuge (824 m) the trail runs uphill before going west on a small dirt road that goes up on the right. After the fork, stay right on the small road and follow it to the foothills of the Monte Folgorito.  A short trail leads to a stele that commemorates WWII events; from here the trail leads steeply uphill to a cross on the top of the mountain (911 m). Take the same trail back to the Pasquilio refuge. The hike takes approximately 2.5 hours taking CAI trail 140 with an altitude difference of 100 m.

Resceto – Rifugio “Conti” alla Finestra Vandelli – Resceto

The itinerary takes hikers through the 18th century “Via Vandelli” road to the Finestra Vandelli (or “I Campaniletti”), then to the Massa CAI refuge, called Nello Conti in the Resceto Alpine Guide.  Follow signs for CAI 35. There are several interesting stone works on the Via’s surrounding walls.

From the small town of Resceto (MSL 436), follow the Via Vandelli (slightly modified due to work in the caves above) along its original path. Note the excellent restoration of the numerous walls in the area. You will come to a large peak before reaching the Finestra Vandelli (MSL 1424) that looks out over western slopes along the crest of the Alto di Sella. From the Finestra, leave the Via Vandelli for a short and easy trail that leads straight to the “Conti” refuge (MSL 1442). Follow the same trail back to Resceto. The hike takes 5 hours with an altitude difference of 1000 m.

Fantiscritti – Canal Grande – Colonnata
- Credit:  Shutterstock.com / Giuliano Del Moretto

This itinerary allows hikers to visit the nearby marble caves in Carrara. From Fantiscritti (MSL 420) hike up to the Foce di Canal Grande, located between the Monte Maggiore and the Campanili di Colonnata. You will be on steep roads used for transporting marble where you will see a number of important working marble caves.

From Foce, take the roads on the other side of the mountain, called “Canaloni”. Excavation will be taking place there as well. The hike leads to the town of Colonnata (MSL 532), which deserves a visit thanks to its unique historic center. The hike takes 4 – 5 hours, depending on how many stops you make to visit the caves. The altitude difference is 400-500 m.

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