The places of the heart
The entire territory of the Park has special features and peculiarities. However, there are some environments and some landscapes, that for their beauty and for the importance of their natural character or for their history, assume special significance in the collective imaginary. We call them Places of the Heart, because in discovering them, one can only feel an intense emotion, that is possible to perceive immediately in the heart.
La Val Canali
Extraordinary Dolomitic valley surrounded by mountains characterized by a series of very suggestive towers such as the Cima Canali (2900 meters), the Sasso de le Lede (2580 meters) and the Cima d’Ostio (2405 meters) between Val Pradidali and Vallon delle Lede, and the Cima dei Lastei (2846 meters) between Vallon delle Lede and Val Canali.
The “organ pipes” of Cima Canali are striking; a mountain “with a very beautiful and marvelous shape … tall and swift as a construction of the Gothic order” (Brentari). Also striking is the high glacial circus of Vallon delle Lede, suspended on the Val Canali. The junction point of Val Pradidali with Val Canali is in the locality Cant del Gal, whose name refers to the capercaillie crowing arenas. Here you will find a large parking area and refreshment points. The boundary of the park is just below, at the Piazmador bridge. From the bridge to Malga Canali, the road crosses a spruce forest with white fir. From time to time beech trees of considerable size make a fine show and in some points – near Prà dell’Ostio, for example – some larger groups offer an undergrowth characterized in particular by the white sedge (Carex alba).
A sight not to be missed, in late March – early April, before the leaves appear, is the flowering of the undergrowth with the colors of the starry onion (Gagea lutea), the Corydalis cava and the nine-leaved toothwort (Cardamine enneaphyllos). The smooth pastures with alpine bluegrass (Poion alpinae) and fescue (Festuca rubra) in the Malga Canali area are also pleasing to the eye.
The Colbricon lakes are one of the most extraordinary contexts of the Park: they can be reached from Passo Rolle after half an hour of walking. Along the way you can see both the splendid panorama towards the Pale di San Martino with the Cimon de la Pala and the Lagorai chain. Beside the vegetation rich in centuries-old tree plants such as larches and stone pines, it is not excluded that various specimens of alpine fauna can be observed, such as chamois, marmots, eagles. After walking along spectacular forests, the splendid scenery of the Colbricon Lakes appears almost suddenly to the visitor’s gaze.
The lakes have both a tectonic and glacial origin: the smallest, rise at 1909 meters and the largest at 1922 meters. These pools of water are immersed in an extraordinary landscape of dwarf bushes, rhododendrons and junipers. From here it is possible to see the top of the Colbricon in front. The area was the scene of war between Italians and Austrians between 1915 and 1918.
The Pale di San Martino
The Pale di San Martino is one of the Dolomitic mountain groups that have become a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. Elegant and majestic, the Pale dominate the gaze of the mountaineer. The highest peaks exceed three thousand meters in height and form a wonderful circular crown bordered by a plateau.
The central area of the Pale di San Martino is a huge, empty, rocky, vast and hidden plateau only partially included in the Park. It is about 10 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide and extends at an altitude between 2,500 and 2,700 meters. A marked tectonic fracture crosses it from west to east: the Riviera Manna. Its surface does not have major differences in height, but bears the signs of surface waters, which have affected it by forming small depressions.
In ancient times here there was a hospice which, together with that of Saints Martino and Giuliano in Castrozza, was used by travelers who faced the passes of Rolle and Valles along difficult paths. By the hospice there was a small church built in 1733 and some saw mills and lumber yards.
Paneveggio is in the center of the province-owned forest that covers the two sides of the upper Travignolo valley, from the slopes of Cima Bocche to the Lagorai Chain.
The extension of the Paneveggio forest is about 2700 hectares. The tree layer consists mainly (85%) of spruce (Picea abies), which occupies the altimetric range between 1500 and 1900 meters. It is the famous resonance wood that has always been used by luthiers for the construction of sound boxes, which makes this place known as the “Forest of violins”.
Higher up, up to around 2200 meters, larch (Larix decidua) and Swiss stone pine (Pinus cembra) become more frequent. The spotted nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes) plays an important role in the renewal of the cembreta: in fact, during the ripening period of the pine nuts, this corvid creates real pantries of these seeds, which it then uses in lean periods.
The Lagorai is a vast and varied mountain range characterized by wild nature. It is dotted with a myriad of alpine lakes and here you can go on long hikes listening to the windy silence of the mountains and the chatter of spring water.
Only the extreme north-eastern part of this vast and solitary chain of volcanic rocks is included in the Park and it is an almost inexhaustible reservoir of nature; a very rich alpine fauna lives in its woods, in the high altitude meadows, in the scree and in the rocks.
The Lagorai is an austere, rugged mountain, which, with its dark colors almost contrasts with the shapes and changing shades of the neighboring Dolomites. The Lagorai chain was one of the great theaters of the tragic events of the Great War and by walking along its solitary paths it is easy to discover the signs of the conflict: trenches, posts, barracks, mule tracks and other infrastructures built in stone. Today, a hundred years from those tragic events, they perfectly integrate into the landscape almost making us forget the madness that led to their construction.
The main access to the Lagorai from the South is the Vanoi Valley, whose two main settlements, Canal san Bovo and Caoria, together with the numerous hamlets, represent an excellent starting point for long and sometimes demanding excursions.
Cina Bocche and Lusia
The Lagorai chain and the Cima Bocche massif are the last offshoots of a large expanse of mountains carved into the volcanic rocks of the “Atesina porphyritic platform”. From Passo Valles there is a view on the entire mass of porphyry on the right of the Travignolo river, from Cima Bocche up to Lusia.
The side of Val Travignolo that climbs towards the Lusia and Cima Bocche ranges is covered by spruce forest. The pasture of Malga Bocche, surrounded by the forest, is dominated by small tufts of thread-like but rough and tenacious leaves of a grass called nard, typical of an acid soil. Here it is already possible to find many species typical of alpine meadows such as arnica and gentian.
Towards 1800 meters above sea level, the wood changes; it becomes more sparse and isolated specimens of stone pine and larch appear, composing the famous “larch-stone pine grove”. The undergrowth can therefore be enriched with shrubs, which at times almost completely cover the ground. These are mainly rhododendron and dwarf juniper.
Il Laghetto Welsperg
Leaving behind the Castel Pietra which rises at the top of an erratic boulder at the entrance of the Val canali, the gaze is captured by a small mirror of water: the Welsperg lake, one of the symbols of this splendid dolomitic valley.
In this area, the decrease in the slopes favors the stagnation of water forming a network of wetlands.
Set in a nature of rare beauty, its waters reflect the peaks of the southern slopes of the Pale; a mountain massif with characteristic ridges, pinnacles and towers. Sass Maor and Cima Canali, elegant and majestic, stand out almost alone in the sky in play of light and clouds that constantly changes the color of these rocks.
In recent years, the lake has been the subject of an important action by the Park of environmental redevelopment and renaturalization which has made it possible to recreate a habitat suitable for the life of amphibians and the fresh water crayfish.
Near the lake there is the “Palù Grant”, the great swamp, an area of botanical and faunal interest that hosts rushes and marsh thistles as well as the typical water reed (Phragmites australis) and some interesting species of orchid: Orchis tridentata , Epipactis palustris and Dactyloriza traunstaineri.
Pradi di Tognola
The upper Vanoi valley is one of the landing points of the Ethnographic Path.
The Pradi di Tognola is a typical mountain settlement and one of the four rings within the path that is called the meadows ring. The common thread of this ring is haymaking and seasonal life on the meadows. The other themes of the Ethnographic path are wood, mobility in the mountain paths, water, stone, war and the sacred. All together, they make the path a “journey through time and space”.
The “Pradi” are an example of the mid-altitude pastures, which were deforested in the past to allow grazing. Here, at just over 1200 meters above the sea level, we can get to know up close a settlement made up of “casere” (huts) and “tabiadi” (barns). The roofing of these buildings is the typical one with shingles, made with spruce or larch wood, with a very ancient technique. The meadows are surrounded by the spruce forests of Valzanca and Valsorda where the capercaillie and the black grouse nests.
La Val Venegia
The Venegia Valley is the upper part of the Travignolo stream basin: it is a typical valley of glacial origin, set between the dolomitic bank of the northern chain of the Pale di San Martino and the Mount Castelaz. There are interesting lava outcrops near Passo della Venegiotta, on the ridge between Mulaz and Passo Valles. From the gently undulating grassy slopes of the Costazza, facing the northern chain of the Pale group, you can admire the most celebrated panorama of this Dolomite system.
In the past centuries the trunks cut in the Juribrutto forest were destined for the construction sites of the Serenissima: they were dragged to the Valles Pass and transported by water along the Biòis and Cordévole streams. The northern chain of the Pale is a bed of Dolomia dello Sciliar over 1200 meters thick, fractured by high icy forks and shaped by the action of frost. This chain includes the highest peak of the Pale di San Martino, the Cima della Vezzana (3192 meters).
This mountain (2,333 meters) overlooks the Rolle Pass. The view offers an extraordinary spectacle: a natural panoramic terrace that allows you to see the Pale di San Martino chain in all its beauty. From the top of Castellaz, the Paneveggio Lake is also visible in the distance. All around, the panorama is very wide and suggestive on the Pale di San Martino, The Rolle Pass, the Lagorai, the Cima Bocche massif, and the Marmolada Group.
Mount Castelaz is located in a strategic position between the Pale di San Martino massif, the Lagorai and the Bocche-Iuribrutto group. For this reason, during the First World War, it played a role of military importance.
The Nature Park carried out some carefully targeted interventions in order to redevelop and enhance the area. Specific information signs allow you to get to know the nature and history of these places up close.
The lake mirrors in its still waters the vertical cliffs of the Cimon de la Pala with its typical inclined thrush; all this, framed by the spruce forest that closes the basin of the lake.
This area is of greatest interest for the Trentino flora and has been known since the early days of the floristic exploration of the province.
At an altitude of 1605 meters, Calaita is a natural lake originated by a glacial morain. It is half a kilometer long, 200 meters wide and about 3 meters deep. Downstream of the morain, the water re-emerges in several springs. The water level is not constant and this creates a muddy strip of land that is periodically submerged. The rarest and most interesting floristic species in the area are linked to this particular environment. The fact that most of these species were known already in the early 19th century shows that instability in the water level is a longstanding phenomenon.