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Merano to Lake Garda over the Brenta Dolomites in 6 days

Travel blogger Sanne hikes from south Tyrol to Trentino
Hiking group

On her family travel blog Travelsanne, Sanne inspires people to take their children and teenagers travelling, hiking, and to have special experiences in the natural world. She was practically born in a love of hiking; even as a child, she explored the most beautiful corners of her homeland Baden-Wurttemberg and the Alps with her hiking-enthusiast family.

In mid-June, Sanne tested out one of our most popular hiking tours in South Tyrol and hiked from Merano to Lake Garda with her husband, Jochen, and some good friends. In her travel report, she shares her experiences and some of the most beautiful impressions with us.

Hiking group

Lake Garda, dream destination

Even just thinking about the stunning region of Trentino-South Tyrol gets people excited. It is no coincidence that the 8-day hiking tour from Merano to Lake Garda is one of the most popular Eurohike walking tours. This year we also want to hike this route, because for us it is the direct continuation of our first long-distance hike from Lake Reschen to Merano.

We will be accompanied again by our dear friends who, like us, discovered last year the joy of long-distancing hiking without luggage. In 6 daily stages, we will walk from Merano past Lake Molveno and the Brenta Dolomites to Lake Garda.

Thanks to our detailed Eurohike travel documents, with comprehensive descriptions of all stages, maps and snack stop tips, as well as personalised advice for our first travel day, we are well prepared for our hiking adventure.

On the wonderful ‘Waalweg’ paths

Full of anticipation for the coming days of hiking, we catch the bus from Merano to Marling and climb up to the Marling ‘Waalweg’ trail. These paths contour along the sides of the valleys, running beside the irrigation channels that are several hundred years old. Keeping alongside the refreshing water, the trail goes through apple orchards and vineyards to Lana.

There, at Lana, we switch to the second ‘Waalweg’ of our tour, the Brandiswaalweg. After a delicious snack stop on the way, we pause for refreshment at the roaring Brandis waterfall. Then we have a long and strenuous climb to the town of Tisens ahead of us, renowned for its chestnuts. After an adventurous descent over rocks and tree roots on the steep cattle path, we reach our destination, Nals.

Hikers on the Marlinger Waalweg

Via the Eppaner Höhenweg and the Burgenweg to Lake Kaltern

We climb steeply up from Nals to the panoramic Eppaner Höhenweg (a high-altitude trail) today. After Andrian, we continue via the Burgenweg to the striking chalk tower and the majestic Hocheppan castle, where we enjoy some south Tyrolean specialities and the magnificent view in the castle tavern.

The next section of the route takes us up and down over adventurous ladders and steps to Boymont castle. We had a welcome cooling off from today’s heat by walking through the famous Eppan ice holes.

From our hotel, we have a wonderful panorama of the mountains and Lake Kaltern.

Hikers on the Eppaner Höhenweg

From Mendel Pass to the unique San Romedio monastery

Today, the Mendelbahn (cable car) takes us comfortably up to the Mendel Pass. Taking the Sentiero Margharita, we hike through the wonderfully green Nonstal, and past the idyllic Ruffre lakes on the ‘Dria al Foss’ Waalweg path to Cavareno. We have now crossed the border from south Tyrol into Trentino, and enjoy our first ‘real Italian’ cappuccino in the rustic mountain village of Don.

The hiking route then takes us through a green river valley framed by steep rock faces. The mighty monastery of San Romedio looms completely unexpectedly in front of us. Here several churches were virtually stacked on top of each other and connected by steep staircases. This pilgrimage site is very impressive and our absolute highlight from the stage!

Our destination for the day is the small village of Coredo, which has a wonderful panoramic location on the Predaia high plateau.

Monastery of San Romedio

Through the Non Valley to Lake Molveno

Our next day's stage starts after a short transfer in Spormaggiore, the gateway to the Adamello-Brenta Natural Park. We climb steadily uphill through a large forested area to Cavedago on the footpath Sentiero “Sulle trace dell’orso”. From the small Gothic church of San Tommaso, we have a amazingly panoramic view over the Non Valley and the Brenta Dolomites.

Our hike continues over the Paganella plateau and on wooden walkways through a fantastically green fairytale forest with huge ferns. After a long descent along forest roads, the turquoise-blue Lake Molveno with the town of the same name suddenly lies at our feet. How nice that we get to spend two nights here!

View of Lake Molveno

Circular hike in the Brenta Dolomites

Lake Garda will have to wait for us, because today we want to explore the rugged mountains of the Brenta Dolomites. We take the cable car from Molveno to the Pradel plateau. A breathtaking hiking trail awaits us, which meanders securely along steep rock faces.

After a short stop at the Rifugio Croz dell’Altissimo, we decide to climb further to the second mountain hut. On the following section of the route, a head for heights and surefootedness are really helpful. But soon it's a relaxing journey again through a forest to the Rifugio Selvata, which is beautifully situated on a panoramic plateau.

Hiker with a view at Rifugio San Pietro

For the descent to Lake Molveno, we don't take the easy route along a forest road, but rather the more demanding route, which involves a small via ferrata. Because of my concentration, I even forgot my fear of heights and mastered my very first via ferrata very well!

We recover from the exertion and our efforts at the new Rifugio Malga Andalo alpine hut before we descend completely to Molveno, via a steep and slippery path. Once we arrive in the valley, we jump straight into the cool water of the turquoise blue lake.

Rifugio Selvata

Lake Garda at our feet

After a short transfer we reach the lonely Lomason Valley, the starting point of our last stage to Lake Garda. Today we experience the very first rain of our hiking tour, which attracts countless mosquitoes from the wet meadows of the biotope and surrounding habitat. We therefore climb Monte Calino in no time and after around 400 meters reach the idyllic Rifugio San Pietro. From here, we see the destination of our hiking trip for the first time, but we still have around 900 meters of descent ahead of us to reach Lake Garda.

Halfway up the mountain, we are amazed by the medieval fortress village of Calvola, whose winding streets and flower-decorated stone houses take us back in time. On narrow, bumpy paths we reach Tenno with its impressive castle.

This last stage officially ends in Varone with its famous waterfall, and you could take the bus to Riva del Garda. However, we definitely want to reach the lake shore on foot and so hike in 35-degree temperatures through the suburbs of Riva right to the shores of Lake Garda, the destination of our long-distance hike.

View of Lake Garda

Summary of our hiking tour with Eurohike

We would not have thought it possible, that we would enjoy the hiking tour from Merano to Lake Garda even more than our tour from Lake Reschen to Merano, because it really was simply breath-taking!

This years’ long-distance hike had so many highlights in store for us at every stage, that we are completely thrilled. The circular day walk in the Brenta Dolomites in particular will stay in our minds for a long time yet!

We also definitely want to experience that unique feeling of satisfaction of arriving at the destination of a long-distance hike again!

Gantkofel in Merano Country

Read further

You can find the detailed travel report about this great long-distance hike from Merano to Lake Garda with many other impressions and tips on Sanne’s family travel blog. She’d be glad of your visit!

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