Valle di Ledro cycleway and Strada del Ponale Ciclabile Valle di Ledro

Published on:  | Last updated: 15 February 2020

Cyclist on the Valle di Ledro cycleway

Cyclist on the Valle di Ledro cycleway

The waymarked section of the Valle di Ledro cycleway runs for about 8 kilometres from the Lago d’Ampola to the Lago di Ledro. However, it’s worth extending it by following the peaceful road along the southern shore of the Lago di Ledro, which takes you to the village of Molina di Ledro, and from there, make the memorable descent to the Lago del Grada, anding at Riva del Garda.

At a glance

Distance

13 kilometres (to Molina di Ledro) or 23 kilometres if you continue to Riva del Garda

Difficulty/terrain

Easy —⁠ ⁠if you are heading east to west it is mainly downhill.

Traffic

Partly on traffic-free cycleway and partly on very quiet roads

Surfaces

This route is mainly on tarmac cycleways or roads but it is most suitable to off-road capable bikes. There are road altern­atives for most of the route, but the final couple of kilometres on the Strada del Ponale are on a gravelly compacted-aggregate track.

Signposting

Partly signposted.

Public transport

There is a bicibus service from/to Riva del Garda and Torbole, as well as boat services on the lake.

Notes

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.


Distances
Lago d’Ampola to Lago di Ledro (Pieve di Ledro) 8 kms
Lago di Ledro (Pieve di Ledro) to Molina di Ledro 5 kms
Molina di Ledro to Riva del Garda by the Strada del Ponale 10 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.


Kilometre marker on the Valle di Ledro cycleway

Kilometre marker on the Valle di Ledro cycleway

Getting there and back

The cycleway is relat­ively easy to reach using the Dolomiti-Garda bicibus service between Riva del Garda and Ampola, and there are also private shuttles (see the Transport section below). Bear in mind that you aren’t allowed to cycle on the most of the road between Riva del Garda and Molina di Ledro (there’s a 3.5 kilometre tunnel, so it really isn’t a good idea).

Coming from the the other direction it’s pretty easy to ride from the Lago d’Idro on a quiet road with a gentle gradient and pick up the cycleway at the Lago d’Ampola.

Options and variations

This route has three main parts: the first is the waymarked cycleway that takes you from the Lago di Ampola to the Lago di Ledro, you can then continue, following a combin­ation of a lakeside path and quiet road to Molina di Ledro. You could ride this section on its own or as an out-and-back loop, but if you are in the area you’d be mad to miss the oppor­tunity to ride the Strada del Ponale.

There are road options that enable you to avoid most of the sections of unsur­faced bike path, but you can’t avoid the final couple of kilometres of the Strada del Ponale. Important: there’s a 3.6 kilometre-long tunnel between Molina di Ledro and Riva del Garda and most of the main road is off-limits to bikes.

The Valle di Ledro cycleway and Strada del Ponale

  • ━━━━━   cycleway
  • ━━━━━   mountain bike route
  • ━━━━━   road

  Map:  Valle-Ledro-Ponale-overview-map-show map in overlay    |    Valle-Ledro-Ponale-overview-map-show map in new window   

You could combine this route with the Valle del Chiese cycleway, by taking the road via the Passo d’Ampola (see: italy-cycling-guide.info: Valle del Chiese cycleway).

In more detail

The Lago di Ampola to the Lago di Ledro

The bike-buses from Riva del Garda stop at the Locanda d’Ampola, at the junction between the SP127 and the SS240. This is as good a starting point as any.

From the locanda, you have a couple of options: one is to head along the SP127 for a couple of hundred metres or so, and then take the track that starts on the left-hand side of the road. The track skirts round the southern side of the lake and, after a kilometre, becomes a tarmac cycleway.

The Lago d’Ampola

Be sure to make a stop to see the lake, which is now a nature reserve, and in summer is covered with water lilies. There are paths that lead to a couple of viewing platforms on the lake shore.

The track is in reasonable condition, but it’s easy to avoid it by riding on the SS240, which is fairly quiet on this stretch.

The road option doesn’t mean missing out on the lake. Turn off the road when you get to a small turning area that is the entrance to the biotopo. If you want to see more of the lake, there is a boardwalk that takes you into the heart of the wetland. Note that you must get off your bike to use the boardwalk; if you push your bike the short distance to the end of the boardwalk, there’s a clearing where you can safely leave it well away from the road.

Water lilies on the Lago d'Ampola

Water lilies on the Lago d’Ampola

The cycleway

After a little over 700 metres, from the locanda there’s a turning on your right-hand side, on the bend, just after a farmhouse. On the corner, there is a sign that says ‘Casa RL’. On the other side of the road is a turning leading to an Agritur (agriturismo/restaurant). Turn right, and then, a little bit further on, you should come to a sign that says Transito Biciclette.

The cycleway starts at a junction a hundred metres from the main road where you turn left. The cycleway continues from here to the Lago di Ledro, keeping the main SS240 to the left. This section is signposted and waymarked with the kilometre markers for the Pista Ciclopedonale Ledro. The markers count down to the Lago di Ledro.

At the seven-kilometre marker, you come to a junction where you turn left (there didn’t seem to be any signs). This road heads downhill, passing a large sawmill. At the bottom of the hill, just before you get to the junction with the main road, turn right following the brown cycle route sign. This takes you past the local football ground.

Timber and forestry seem to be the main economic activity of the area as the route passes more sawmills.

At the 6-kilometre marker, bear right. Just before the 5-kilometre marker, the route crosses over a small river (Rio delle Sacche) and then, a hundred metres or so further on, crosses back over it. There’s then a section of quiet road (the Via Alla Costa). A little under 700 metres further on, you come to a cross­roads where the cycle route makes a bit of a detour. You could opt to continue straight on, but otherwise, you turn right and then head briefly uphill before turning left again onto a stretch of cycleway. The route takes you past a play area and a water tap. Keep following the yellow cycleway markings, and this should bring you to a bridge, just after the bridge, you turn left, passing the Parco Don Renzo where there’s another water tap. You then come to a junction with a church on the corner, where you turn right, rejoining the Via alla Costa.

Just after the three-kilometre marker, a bridge takes you over a river (the Torrente Massangia). From here you follow another quiet road, the Via Imperiale for 1.4 kilometres until you come to a junction where you need to bear right onto a section of cycleway that takes you to the Lago di Ledro. If you want to go to the village of Pieve di Ledro, stick with the Via Imperiale and keep straight on when you get to the strada statale.

 The Lago di Ledro


The Lago di Ledro

The Lago di Ledro

The final stretch of the cycleway brings you to the Lago di Ledro with its lively lakeside. The lake may be overshadowed by the much bigger and better-known Lago di Garda a short way further on, but it’s a beautiful destin­ation in its own right, as you can see from this tourist promotion video:

The official Valle di Ledro cycleway seems to come to an end here (or at least there are no more waymarkers). You have a couple of options: just after reach the Camping Azzurro you can bear left, following the unsur­faced lakeside cycleway. The unsur­faced cycleway continues for a little over a kilometre. It is very scenic, and in good condition, but if you prefer, you can continue by road: bear right, and then, after a short climb, bear left, heading downhill and left again before continuing following the lungolago

A very scenic and peaceful stretch of road takes you for the next three kilometres or so into Molina di Ledro passing the Museo delle Palafitte del Lago di Ledro. The museum includes a recon­struction of a bronze-age settlement of stilt-houses. The remains of the village were found when the lake was partially drained during the construction of the hydro­electric plant in Riva del Garda. The site is one of 111 pile-dwelling sites that have been listed by UNESCO as part of World Heritage (whc.unesco.org: Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps). For more see: vallediledro.com.

Cyclist on the lungolago (lakeside road) around the Lago di Ledro

Cyclist on the lungolago (lakeside road) around the Lago di Ledro

Molina di Ledro to Riva del Garda

From Molina di Ledro you start the descent to the Lago di Garda. After the museum, there’s a fork in the road. The right-hand fork is signed as a mountain bike route. It mainly follows asphalt-surfaced minor roads, but there’s a section of about 500 metres that is aggregate-surfaced. I don’t know how smooth (or rough) this is. The left-hand fork brings you out onto the main SS240 which you can follow for 1.3 kilometres before you have to turn off to the right, following the signs for Prè (the next stretch of the SS240 is off-limits to bikes). 

At Prè the two routes diverge again: the mountain bike route crosses the river Ponale and then continues on an unsur­faced section of the Via Ponale. If you’d rather avoid this, then you can bear left to rejoin the SS240. 

Continue straight on through the village following the road as it descends. The road brings you out onto the SS240, and you continue downhill through the village of Biacesa di Ledro. 

Almost a couple of kilometres further on, the SS240 brings you to the entrance of the 3.6-kilometre-long tunnel that leads to Riva del Garda. Bikes are banned from the tunnel —⁠ ⁠although you’d have to be mad to consider taking it. There’s a big no bikes sign on it, as well as a sign that says Direzione Consigliata (advisory route —⁠ ⁠not that you have any other choice).

The Strada del Ponale

Cyclists on the Strada del Ponale

Cyclists on the Strada del Ponale above the Lago di Garda

The Strada del Ponale was originally built in the mid nineteenth century with the aim of ending the isolation of the Ledro valley. It is one of the most spectacular and memorable rides in all of Italy. I try to avoid using the adjective ‘spectacular’ but the Strada del Ponale deserves it. If you don’t believe me, watch this video:

The bad news (at least if you’re on a road bike) is that the final couple of kilometres are a gravelly track —⁠ ⁠the official name for the route is the Sentiero del Ponale and it is graded as a sentiero alpino (alpine hiking path).

A short tunnel hacked out of solid rock brings you out onto the old road —⁠ ⁠the Via del Ponale. The views from the road over the Lago di Garda are spectacular —⁠ ⁠especially when you get to the section that overlooks Le Zette (the z’s) —⁠ ⁠a series of four tight switch­backs set against the backdrop of the lake.

After the fourth bend, there’s a bar (Ponale Alto Belvedere), which has probably the most magni­ficent view anywhere around the lake (and if your mind is on more practical things, it also has a pump, workshop stand and a set of tools). 

The view from the Strada del Ponale

The view from the Strada del Ponale

Just after the bar, the tarmac runs out, and the road continues as an aggregate-surfaced track. When I rode this in summer 2018, the surface was pretty rough —⁠ ⁠although still doable with care. The local author­ities did a lot of work on the path over the winter of 2018-19, but so far as I can tell it is still relat­ively gravelly and best suited to mountain bikes etc. Having said all that, I rode the route with a full-loaded MTB tourer and the only anxious moment I had was when I hit a pothole on the asphalt road at the bottom.

This final section continues for 2.3 kilometres. On a sunny day, there are great views of the lake, and what seemed like hundreds of small dinghies. Eventually, you come down to a road junction where you turn left. This road brings you down to the main strada statale. Don’t ignore the no-entry sign —⁠ ⁠turning left takes you over the entrance to a tunnel, if you go right you end up having to cross the main road. 

The Strada del Ponale as it descends towards Riva del Garda

The Strada del Ponale as it descends towards Riva del Garda

As you come into Riva del Garda keep an eye out for the hydro­electric plant on the right and in particular the statue (Il Genio delle Acque) with fist-full of thunder­bolts. Just after you pass the hydro­electric station, you can turn off the road and onto the quayside. 

Cyclist on the lakeside cycleway near Riva del Garda

Cyclist on the lakeside cycleway near Riva del Garda


More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs etc

There are lots of hotels and other accom­mod­ation around the Lago di Ledro. See the listings on

Tourist inform­ation websites with accom­mod­ation search facil­ities:

Find and book places to stay with Booking.com

Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:

Ledro | Valle di Ledro | Ledro & Alto Garda

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.

Hostels

The nearest hostels are the Active Hostel at Ponte del Caffaro, on the Lago d’Idro, and the Ostello Benacus at Riva del Garda. Both are within reasonably easy reach of the cycleway.

Campsites

There are four campsites on or near the route: the Camping Albergo Casa Vecchia at Tiarno di Sopra, about half-way between the Lago di Ampola and the Lago di Ledro. On the Lago di Ledro there are three campsites: the Camping Azzurro, the Camping Al Lago, and the Camping Al Sole.

There are two campsites on the northern part of the Lago d’Idro: theCamping Pian d’Oneda and Camping Miralago, and four more further south

Services

Places to eat and drink

  • Ampola (0 kms): the Locanda Ampola
  • Lago di Ledro (8 kms): there are restaurants at the lakeside near Pieve di Ledro
  • Molina di Ledro (13 kms): more places to eat
  • if you decide to continue to Riva del Grada there’s the Ponale Alto Belvedere bar, which has quite possibly the best view of any bar anywhere on the Lago di Garda
Antipasto - Franco&Adriana Pieve di Ledro

Antipasto: Hotel-Ristorante Franco&Adriana Pieve di Ledro

Bike shops and bike rental

Ledro Bike Rentals is based at the Camping Al Sole. There are loads of bike shops in Riva del Garda and Torbole:

Bike shops in Riva del Garda and Torbole

Cicli Pederzolli | Energia Bike | Garda Bike Shop | GardaOnBike | Gobike (Viale Rovereto 31) | Happy Bike | Leoni Cicli | Rosa’ Bike Service | The Lab


Guest Cards

If you’re spending time in the region, it’s worth checking out the Trentino Guest Card. The major benefits for cyclists are free use of the train and bicibus services, as well as free entry to many museums and other attrac­tions.

The card is available from parti­cip­ating accom­mod­ation providers (including hostels and campsites). For a list see: visittrentino.info: Guest Card: parti­cip­ating accom­mod­ation providers . You need to be staying for a minimum of two nights — but the website also suggests that you ask about the card even if you are only staying for a single night, as you can buy it for a very special price. If you’re planning on doing a lot of sight­seeing, you can also buy the card for 40€ for a week.

There’s a pdf map/brochure if you want to find out more. There’s also an app for Android/iOS.

Most of the holiday areas in the region have a local Guest Card that offers similar benefits.

Transport

A bicibus service runs 2 or 3 times a day between Riva del Garda and Ampola. For timetables see: vallediledro.com: bicibus-trek

Between mid-June and the middle of September, there’s a network of five bicibus services in the north-western part of the region (the area between the Lago di Garda and the Brenta Dolomites). In general, the services run four times a day in each direction; three of the lines run every day, while the other two run five days a week.

The five lines are:

  • Line 1 (Carisolo-Madonna di Campiglio-Dimaro) links the Val di Sole and Val Rendena cycleways
  • Line 2 (Comano Terme-Tione-Carisolo) supports the central section of the Val Rendena cycleway
  • Line 3 (Sarche-Comano Terme-Molveno-Fai della Paganella) and Line 4 (Torbole-Riva del Garda-Comano Terme) connect to provide a return option at the end of the Sarca cycleway
  • Line 5 (Ampola-Lago di Ledro-Riva del Garda) links the Val di Ledro cycleway with Riva del Garda.

Fares depend on the distance travelled, plus a flat 2€ per bike, but you can travel for free with the Trentino Guest Card or one of the other local guest cards. You can buy the tickets on the bus.

The buses (or at least all the ones I’ve seen) have trailers that can carry 28 bikes.

According to the English-language leaflets advert­ising the service you have to book before 18:00 for buses the following morning, and by midday for services in the afternoon, but the Italian-language version of the leaflets says booking is advised; it’s probably a good idea to book, but even if you don’t have a booking it may be worth turning up anyway.

Map of the Dolomiti-Garda Bicibus network (2019).

There are also several firms in Riva del Garda and Torbole who offer bike shuttles to destin­a­tions in the Valle di Ledro (ask at the tourist office) or the gardatrentino.it website.

In addition, according to: visittrentino.info: Cycling Path of Valle di Ledro, the bus 214 between Riva and Storo can carry three bikes .

Boats on the Lago di Garda

During summer the towns on the Lago di Garda are served by frequent boat services. You could use these to connect with the mainline train network at Peschiera del Garda. The most bike-friendly option are the two old car ferries, which have a huge amount of space for bikes. These sail a couple of times a day in either direction, giving four sailings in total. The smaller boats (batelli) have only limited space for bikes, and bikes aren’t allowed on the fast hydrofoil services.

Ferryboat coming into shore at Torbole on the Lago di Garda. The picture shows one of the larger boats with more capacity for bikes

Ferryboat coming into shore at Torbole on the Lago di Garda. The picture shows one of the larger boats with more capacity for bikes

Resources

General tourist information

Cycling information

Transport information

For inform­ation on the BiciBus services around the Lago di Garda see:

For inform­ation about ferry and boat services on the Lago di Garda, go to the Lago di Garda section of navigazionelaghi.it. Note that many services only operate in summer, so the winter timetables aren’t much help for travel planning.You can also download the timetable as a pdf: navigazionelaghi.it: Lago di Garda timetable Summer 2019 .

The visittrentino.info regional tourist inform­ation website has a useful page on taking your bike on public transport in the region: visittrentino.info: cycling-and-public-transport. For inform­ation on taking your bike on Trentino Trasporti trains see: Trentino Trasporti: Transporting Bikes

Trentino Trasporti timetables

You can download a pdf copy of the timetables for the Trentino Trasporti trains from the train section of the company’s website: trentinotrasporti.it: train.

Downloads

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).

 sample map page.

Links open in new windows unless you ‘save as’ etc.

GPS files

  •  Valle di Ledro and Strada del Ponale gps files
    (.zip file containing 10 gpx files)
  • Italy Points of Interest

    About POIs

    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.

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