“Climb to a pristine alpine lake admiring the many waterfalls coming from the 2,500 meter peaks.”
— Lost Justpastnowhere
This ride starts in picturesque Tirano heading south through the beautiful Valtellina valley. The Valtellina is hemmed in on both sides by steep 2,500 m (8,200 ft.) and higher mountains lined with vineyards and old castles. It then climbs up the side of the valley before following the contour on an old farm road. At the end of this farm road, you reach the Torrente Belviso river. More climbing ensues before you reach Lago Belviso at around 1,500 m (5,000 ft.) elevation.
Ride this in early May when the snows are still melting off the peaks. The entire climb along the Torrente Belviso was lined with waterfalls large and small. At the far (south) end of the lake, the snowpack comes down to the lake, and you might enjoy lunch on your own private glacier.
Need to Know
You can arrive by train in Tirano from throughout Lombardia and Italy, but remember you must purchase a separate ticket for the bicycle.
The ride starts at the train station in Tirano, which is the terminus of the Sentiero Valtellina Path: Colico to Tirano
. This is a dedicated bike path that runs through the picturesque Valtellina valley along the Fiume Adda (river). You'll pass through some pastures and farmland along the river and there are numerous vineyards higher up in the valley. Follow the Sentiero Valtellina Path: Colico to Tirano
southeast for 15 km (9.3 mi) through Tresenda to San Giacomo.
Just after you cross the bridge for the Sentiero Valtellina Path: Colico to Tirano
in San Giacomo, turn left onto the next paved road, which is via San Giacomo. This begins the first long climb (8km/5mi average 7–8% grade). The road passes through pastoral farmland, and you can stop to say "ciao" to the cows and/or to admire the view across the valley if you need a break. You'll pass through a couple of small mountain hamlets: San Sebastiano and Caprinale.
Just after Caprinale, (around 22.5 km, 14 mi), a gravel farm road forks to the left near a dilapidated farm building. This Balcone Tresenda
follows the 900 m (3,000 ft.) contour for about 5 km (3 mi) through a thick forest. Most of the Balcone Tresenda
is a rocky doubletrack but there are some short singletrack sections. About 2 km (1.25 mi) into the farm road when the trail crosses the Torrente Caronella, the trail is a little washed out, and you might have to hike-a-bike for a short distance. The trail ends at a paved road near a dam (the first) on the Torrente Belviso
At the first dam, you begin the second and more difficult climb on the Torrente Belviso
forest (mostly gravel) road which parallels the namesake Torrente Belviso stream. You'll climb steadily up this forest road through a peaceful forest. After 4 km (2.4 mi) and 300 m (1,000 ft.) of climbing, you'll reach a clearing. In the clearing there is the Rifiguio Cristina (mountain hut) which is a good place to stop for a hearty meal and/or beverage before continuing the climb. After the rifugio, there are another 250 m (800 ft.) of climbing up to the level of the lake in about 1.8 km (1.1 mi).
You'll know you are finally reaching the lake when you cross a bridge over the Torrente Belviso as you approach the second dam, which holds back the lake itself and which is guarded by several gnomes cut into tree stumps. From this point, it is still 1 km (0.6 mi) to the dam, including the steepest part of the climb. After you pass the dam, you've earned an easy 3.2 km (2 mi) stroll on the gravel road that runs along the eastern shore of the lake. Meanwhile 2,500 m (8,200 ft.) peaks tower above the lake on either side. Come during snow melt season, and you'll see quite a number of waterfalls coming down from the mountains on both sides of the Torrente Belviso
forest road. One or two of them will run over the path into the lake, and you'll have to ford them.
After taking some time to enjoy the far end of the lake, turn around and descend Torrente Belviso
to the first dam and the main road. Turn right at the dam onto via Liscedo. This takes you to the main Strada Statale (state road) SS239. Follow SS239 to the 54 km (33.5 mi) mark. Here, take a sharp right turn onto Strada Provinciale (provincial road) SP25. This takes you back to Sentiero Valtellina Path: Colico to Tirano
which you can follow back into Tirano.