Published on: 11 June 2019 | Last updated: 15 February 2020
The Valle del Chiese follows the valley of the Chiese river as it runs into the Lago d’Idro on the border with Lombardia. This area is off the tourist map, although the lake is popular with kiteboarders and windsurfers.
The cycle route consists of two long sections of traffic-free cycleway linked by a stretch of very quiet road — thanks to a newly-opened section of road that diverts through traffic away from the villages on the route. There’s also a branch that follows a tributary of the Chiese.
At a glance
Easy, but with some very short climbs.
Twenty-seven kilometres on traffic-free dedicated cycleways, and 11 kilometres on quiet roads
Entirely on paved cycleways or roads.
Mostly well signposted
Distance: this guide isn’t divided into daily stages, as people differ in how fast and how far they want to travel each day.
‘Traffic-free’: many cycle routes include sections with roads with restricted access for residents or people working on the adjoining land. You may, very occasionally, encounter an agricultural vehicle like a tractor pulling a trailer of hay, but most of the time there is no motorised traffic. They are often indistinguishable from the cycleways that are legally set aside for the exclusive use of cyclists and pedestrians.
Map and altitude profile
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|Bondo to the Lago di Roncone||2 kms|
|Bondo to Lardaro (end of the first section of traffic-free cycleway)||4 kms|
|Lardaro to Visit Chiese tourist office (Cologna)||6 kms|
|Visit Chiese to Condino||6 kms|
|Condino to Ca’ Rossa||6 kms|
|Ca’ Rossa to the Lago d’Idro||7 kms|
|Lago d’Idro to Ca’ Rossa via Storo||9 kms|
About this table
The table doesn’t necessarily show the distances from one city centre to the centre of the next town — if a route skirts around a town the distances are measured to the nearest point on the route from the centre.
Options and variations
The route isn’t supported by a bicibus service, so if you are doing it as a loop, you may want to reduce the overall distance by starting from the Visit Chiese tourist office at Cologna (where there’s plenty of car parking) at the start of the main traffic-free section of cycleway. You could then return by the branch of the cycleway that runs beside the Torrente Palavico before a short section of quiet road takes you into Storo and then to the bridge at Ca’ Rossa from where you return the way you came. The total distance, out and back would be 33 kilometres.
You could also continue return from the Lago d’Idro on the Palavic branch of the cycleway, but instead of continuing via Storo, you could turn right and climb to the Passo d’Ampola and pick up the Valle di Ledro cycle route. For more about the Valle di Ledro cycleway see: (italy-cycling-guide.info: Valle di Ledro cycleway)
Overview map showing sections on traffic-free cycleways and on quiet roads
Getting there and getting back
The route is probably best suited to people who are staying in the area (eg on the Lago d’Idro or on the Lago di Ledro). The public transport options for reaching the area are limited.
There are bicibus services from Riva del Garda to Tione, Ledro and Ampola, so it certainly would be possible to use these services to reach the route by public transport if you don’t mind a ride at either end, but it’s not straightforward. (Note: be sure to check the bicibus timetables — see the transport and services section further on).
You could ride from Tione (which is on the Val Rendena cycleway). The initial climb out of Tione is on a relatively narrow road, but for most of the way the road is wide, with plenty of space for other traffic to pass you, although it tends to be fast-moving.
You could also cycle to Riva del Garda via the Passo d’Ampola and the Lago di Ledro, but note that bikes are banned from the road tunnel between Molina di Ledro and Riva. You can reach Riva using the old road (the Strada del Ponale) which makes a spectacular descent down to the Lago di Garda. this route is best suited to off-road-capable bikes, but the descent is so beautiful that it would be worth pushing your bike for the final couple of kilometres. For more about this route see: italy-cycling-guide.info: the Valle del Ledro and Strada del Ponale.
In more detail
Bondo to Lardaro
The start of the first section of cycleway is on your right as you leave Bondo. It runs for about 300 metres beside the road, passing a bar-ristorante before bearing away and bringing you into the park and nature reserve around the Lago di Roncone. Look out for a sign for Storo and Roncone. You pass a picnic area (equipped with barbecue), and very soon afterwards there is a beautiful little lake and wetland area. While you’re admiring the small lake take a moment to look back for a view of the Brenta Dolomites.
The cycleway brings you into Roncone itself, where there is a charming lakeside complete with a play area — not to mention pedalos. From here, the signs to direct you to Storo.
At the next junction turn left, cross over a wooden bridge and then continue, still following the river. Although this is the Valle del Chiese, the river you are riding beside is the Torrente Adanà, one of the waterways that feed into the main Chiese river. You pass, on the left, a troticultura (trout farm).
A kilometre or so further on you come to a crossroads with a bridge (on the other side is a building called Il Mulino), where the first section of traffic-free cycleway comes to an end.
Lardaro to Cologna
There are no signs or road markings at this point, but you have a couple of options here. The first option is to turn right and cross over the bridge, and then join the SS237. The SS237 takes you past the Forte Larino, a fortified complex built by the Austro-Hungarian empire to control the road from Brescia and the border with newly-established Italy (for more information about the fort see trentinograndeguerra.it: Werk Larino/Forte Larino). The problem is that this involves a 700-metre long stretch on the SS237. The road is relatively busy until you get to a roundabout where it divides, and most traffic takes to a new bypass and disappears into a tunnel leaving the old SS237 blissfully quiet.
The second option is to continue straight on, keeping the river on your right-hand side and following a quiet country road which climbs up the valley side before crossing over the river. The road isn’t in the best of conditions, but it is perfectly rideable. Eventually, you come to a junction; the turning to the left is signed for the Forte Carriola and the Malga Rangla. You need to turn right here and make a short, but pretty steep, descent back down into the valley, passing a farmhouse and polytunnels where they were growing strawberries when I passed by.
The road brings you into Agrone. When you come out onto the SS237 cross over, and take the lane that is almost immediately opposite you to your left, this goes uphill, passing the village recycling point and a play area with a water fountain. You continue through the very quiet, and pretty village of Frugone, passing another marble water fountain. After the village, the road makes a fairly steep descent down to the bottom of the valley floor and the main road, or rather the old main road. You then follow the (old) SS237 as it heads through Strada and Creto.
Cologna to Condino
Just after Creto, at Cologna, you come to the Visit Chiese tourist office, where the cycleway resumes again on the right-hand side of the road. From the tourist office, the cycleway continues beside the main road as it squeezes past the hydro-electric dam at Cimego.
This stretch of the cycleway has kilometre markers along the way, but note that these count down to the boundary between the Trentino and Lombardia regions. The Lago d’Idro is another 2.3 kilometres of traffic-free cycleway further on.
After the dam at Cimego, as well as the Chiese itself there’s a massive green pipe carrying water from the dam. The cycleway follows the pipeline for a stretch before rejoining the river. The route takes you over the pipeline, passing the 16-kilometre marker, and then turns left, passing a small lake.
Further on, you come to a picnic/play area. There’s a junction with the SS237, but just before the junction, you need to turn right and take the underpass under the bridge. The underpass is at the 15-kilometre marker.
On the other side of the underpass, turn left and then, following the cycleway signs, continue on a quiet road (the Via all Porte) that heads downhill. Watch out, because, a kilometre or so further on, you need to make a sharp right turn as the cycleway resumes. There are no signs at this junction. The cycleway doubles back to go under the road and seems to be heading in the other direction. On the other side of the road, you turn right and then continue on the right bank of the Chiese (looking in the direction the river flows) with the river on your left-hand side.
A little further on, the cycleway crosses over a small river (the Rio Giulis) and then gives way to a road that continues past a football ground and tennis courts. You pass the tennis courts on your right-hand side and the 12-kilometre marker just after. Keep on, with the river on your left-hand side, heading for Condino.
About a hundred metres further on from the 12-kilometre marker, the route goes under the main road again. You come into Condino on the Via San Giovanni; when you come to a junction turn left onto the Via Roma (the main road through the town). The Via Roma would have once been the main strada statale, but the main street is now only used by local traffic. When you come to a fork in the road bear left following the cycle route sign and the sign for Brescia.
Condino to the bridge at Ca’ Rossa
The Via Roma takes you out of Condino, and, a little further on (passing the 11-kilometre marker) you turn left onto the Via Acquaiolo — following a brown cycle route sign, as well as a sign for the Chiesa di San Lorenzo, and another for the Centro Recupero Materiali (recycling centre).
At the bottom of the road, there’s an edicola (wayside shrine) with a statue of the Virgin Mary. Turn right, and continue, with the main road on your left-hand side. After about 150 metres, you come to an underpass where you turn left to go under the strada statale. On the other side, turn right and keep following the river (with the river on your left-hand side).
The road continues past the recycling centre and the Bicigrill Condino where you turn left and go over the river following the sign for Storo. At the bicigrill, you’ll find a workstation with tools plus an e-bike charging station.
On the other side of the river, the cycleway bears right. The surface looked (in 2018) pretty much brand new.
There are a couple of places where the cycleway fords a river (or at least, a stream) the fords are built with concrete and stone, and if you’re not expecting them, you could end up with an unpleasant shock. There’s a warning triangle with an exclamation mark on the approach to each one of them.
The stretch of brand-new tarmac continues for a couple of kilometres until you come to a picnic and play area by a waterfall (the Fontana Santa). The cycleway keeps on following the river embankment for 1.4 kilometres after the play area until it comes to a junction with two bridges (and beyond them the main road which also has a double bridge — the Ponte Ca’ Rossa). You need to turn left and then cross over a white pedestrian/cycle bridge over a canal. Once you’re over the bridge, you turn sharp right and cross over the road (there is a zebra crossing if you need it).
Ca’ Rossa to the Lago d’Idro
The cycleway resumes on the other side of the road, with the canal on your right-hand side as it flows into the main Chiese river.
From here, there’s a 4.4 kilometre-long stretch of tarmac cycleway on the top of the flood defence embankment on the left bank of the river. It comes to an end at the point where the main river meets two tributaries (the Rio Loro and the Torrente Palvico).
There are two wooden bridges at the meeting point of the three waterways. On the other side of the first bridge is the starting point of the cycleway that follows the Torrente Palvico towards Storo. You could turn left here and head for Storo, but for the Lago d’Idro go over both bridges and then turn right, following the sign for Lago d’Idro (2.3 kilometres from here).
You then come to the 0-kilometre marker which is at the border between the Trentino and the neighbouring region of Lombardia. The Lago d’Idro is a little way further on; while the Trentino cycleway ends at the border, another cycleway takes you to the lake a little way further on.
If you want to go to the east bank of the lake, simply continue following the riverside. If you’re going to go to Ponte Caffaro and the western shore of the lake, there are two new metal bridges built by the Regione Lombardia.
The Lago d’Idro is one of those understated and underrated places that I visit, and leave thinking I wish I had spent more time there, and I forget, and I come back, and again leave thinking I wish I had stayed a little longer.
The Lago d’Idro to Storo
If you plan to continue from the Lago d’Idro, you first need to retrace your steps to the two wooden bridges, and from there, take the branch of the cycleway that leads to Storo. It starts just after you cross the first bridge (ie the one over the Torrente Palvico), and the waymarkers have the words diramazione Palvico on them.
The route is very straightforward: from the bridge, there’s a continuous 4.2 kilometre stretch of cycleway on the right bank of the Torrente Palvico. The cycleway comes to an end at a junction with the SS240.
If you’re heading for the Passo d’Ampola and the Valle di Ledro, then turn right here and cross the river. Otherwise, turn left for Storo. The road is relatively quiet, but if you prefer, you can pick up the Via Gnesotti a little over 300 metres further on, on your left. Coming out of Storo, you can take the Via Papaleoni, Via Rossi, Via Martinello and Via Saletto which take you to the bridge over the canal at Ca’ Rossa and from there you can ride back to Cologna.
Places to stay
Hotels and B&Bs
Tourist information websites with accommodation search facilities
- visitchiese.it: accommodation
- vallediledro.com: accommodation
- Garda Trentino: gardatrentino.it: accommodation
Find and book places to stay with Booking.com
Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:
About these links
If you use these links to book accommodation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.
I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirmation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accommodation.
I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the opportunity to let me know if there’s a problem.
Many properties offer free cancellation but it’s a good idea to check the conditions as these vary from property to property.
There’s a hostel (the Active Hostel) at Ponte del Caffaro on the Lago d’Idro.
As well as the campsites around the Lago d’Idro, there are campsites near the Lago di Ledro: the Camping Albergo Casa Vecchia . On the Lago di Ledro itself there are three campsites: the Camping Azzurro, the Camping Al Lago, and the Camping Al Sole
Places to eat and drink
Places to eat and drink along the way include
- the Bar-Ristorante Miravalle at the start of the cycleway near Bondo
- Snoopy Lake at the Lago di Roncone
- the Bar alla Pesa in Condino
- the Bicigrill Condino near Condino
- the Bar Pergola and the Al Chicco d’Oro bar-café in Storo.
There are no bike shops on this route. There are lots (more than ten) in Riva del Garda and Torbole.
There are no train stations on this route. There are bike-bus services that connect Riva del Garda with the Val Rendena and with the Lago di Ledro and Lago d’Idro. Ask at tourist offices for the BiciBus+Trek leaflet, or you can download it from: gardatrentino.it: BIci-Bus+Trek flyer or from campigliodolomiti.it: Dolomiti-Garda bike-shuttle (it’s also available to download from the other tourist information websites for the area).
Tourist information websites
There’s information about the Valle del Chiese cycleway on the area and regional tourist information websites:
The visitchiese.it website also has a section with mountain bike routes: visitchiese.it: mountain bike.
Maps to print out or view offline
About the maps
The maps are in two versions: A4 portrait format - for printing and maybe also for viewing on an iPad, and A5 for smaller tablets and smartphones. (A4 and A5 are international paper sizes).
Links open in new windows unless you ‘save as’ etc.
- Valle del Chiese gps files
(.zip file containing seven gpx files)
- Italy Points of Interest
POIs are like waypoints, but while you can usually only store a limited number of waypoints on a device, you can store thousands of POIs. These files include information about campsites and hostels, bike shops, train stations, drinking water sources as well as warnings for tunnels and roads where bikes are banned. Please check the ReadMe file for instructions. Updated April 2018. The file format is only compatible with Garmin GPSes .
GPX? POI? WTF? … about the GPS files
The GPS downloads are zip files containing files with tracks and waypoints. You can use these with a GPS (eg a Garmin), or using an app on a smartphone or tablet. Depending on the software you use, the track files will display the route on a map, and let you view an altitude profile. The waypoint files show the location of places of interest, as well as other useful things like drinking water sources, train stations and campsites etc.
The track files will just display a line on a map; they won’t give you turn-by-turn directions.
The POI files will only work on Garmin GPSes. They work best on the handheld receivers (eg the eTrex family). They also work, but not as well, on the Edge cycling GPSes.