Cancello Imperatore (The Emperor's Gate)
ElevationAscent: 1,750' 534 m
Descent: -444' -135 m
High: 5,432' 1,656 m
Low: 3,783' 1,153 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)
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“The price of admission to the Emperor's Field is a 1500 foot doubletrack climb.”— Lost Justpastnowhere
It's not technically demanding but it will test many people aerobically. You'll climb 1000 ft in the first 2.5 miles to about 1 mile overall altitude. The trail levels for a short distance, then there's a half-mile climb that is significantly steeper (>10%) before you finally head down into the Campo Imperatore.
This trail is particularly beautiful, and very isolated, passing through farmland with views of the Apennine Mountains. Just before you complete the first 1000 feet of climbing, you'll pass the Rifugio Fonte del Cane (Fountain of the Dogs Mountain Hut) where you may be able to obtain food and drink during the summer months.
As you crest the final 500 foot climb, you'll reach an intersection of two doubletracks. It is here that the Corno Grande (highest point in the Apennine Mountains) first comes into view with a large portion of the Campo Imperatore plateau in the foreground. Stop here to admire the view because this is why you came.
Then turn left to proceed downhill towards SS17bis. If you do this in late spring, as I did (or presumably late fall as well), you may find yourself walking through the snow for much of the last mile or so down to SS17bis, but you'll also find the entire Campo Imperatore covered in spring wildflowers, or at least the parts that are not still covered in snow.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Features, Electic Mountain Bikes Allowed