Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy covering some 370km2 with a length of 50km. That’s pretty damn large. Garda is located in the north of Italy around 3 hours south of Innsbruck, making it a convenient destination for us after the ski season finished up in Austria.
We had a good friend visiting from Australia who was keen to get a taste for mountain biking in Europe. Garda is considered one of the premier destinations for mountain biking and rock climbing in Italy with many people heading there for the sun, biking, climbing, and sailing over the summer. We decided to base ourselves at the north end of the lake near Riva Del Garda, where we found an airBnB just outside of the village of Tenno. Tenno is conveniently located far enough from Riva Del Garda to get away from the hustle and bustle and the throngs of tourists. Its surrounded by olive groves and vineyards and there is a small lake ‘Lago di Tenno’ which is close to the town. All in all it has a great italiano vibe!
Enjoying a coal fired BBQ at the Air BnB
The Lago di Tenno, so crystal clear & not too cold to get into!
Due to being on a budget we researched and downloaded a number of potential mountain bike tracks before arriving in Lake Garda rather than splurging on a guide for the week. We had mixed results with this technique. Most notably on the first day we ended up hike-a-biking down the majority of 1000m after taking an alternate track that descended down a mountain face largely dominated by vertical cliff faces. We later discovered that this track is considered a “very difficult hiking track”, go figure!
The upside of the cliffs was the unbelievable view!!
Picking the tracks ourselves also lead to a number of discoveries including these old battle stations from the war.
Pranzo, one of the little towns we passed through on our rides.
After the “adventure” of the first day we learnt to stick to the tracks and visited a local mtb (mountain bike) shuttle company to get the low down on the best tracks. The guy at the shuttle company recommended three tracks on the north-eastern edge of the lake. These were “The Skull”, “Track 601” and the “Enduro Track” (map to come, will update later). We did the Enduro track and Track 601. Both would be described best as unrelenting & ultra technical riding from top to bottom. The tracks are both around 4.5km long and descend close to 1000m, so you get the idea that they are heading down at a pretty steep rate. By and large the surface was a constant line up of 1-2ft drops on dolomitic rock. Pretty intense, but a lot of fun if that’s the sort of riding you are into. There were smiles all around at the bottom; pleased that we had made it down in one piece!
Halfway down the “Enduro Track” looking over Lake Garda and Riva Del Garda
On our last day of riding we attempted to find something with a little more variation than just “super steep and technical”. The guy from the shuttle service had suggested the tour of Rigugio Nino Pernici. Traditionally this tour starts and ends in Riva Del Garda following a trail that goes along the edge of Lake Garda heads east past Lago di Ledro, up past the town of Lenzumo to the Rigugio at 1600m. The trail then descends back down through the town of Campi to Riva Del Garda. Hana had tweaked her shoulder climbing and offered to drive us to above the town of Lenzumo cutting out around 1350m of climbing. At the rifugio the waiter tipped us off to an alternative track that was hands down the best track of the week. “Track 454” descends to Lago di Ledro (600m asl) from Monte Caret (1800m asl) and consists of a good range of fast and flowy along with steep and technical riding.
The view from Rifugio Nino Pernici
From Lago di Ledro you can follow the road all the way back to Riva Del Garda. We highly recommend this trial to anyone visiting Garda, keeping in mind it is still a little technical though.
Our friend Chris at the top of Monte Caret
View coming into Lake Garda
Climbing in Lake Garda; in particular the area around the town of Arco is well known for rock climbing. it is very common for climbers though so can be quite polished to climb. We spent a morning climbing a number of routes at a local crag.
A dip in ‘Lago di Ledro’ was a must, it’s away from the hustle & bustle of Lake Garda so offers a relaxing atmosphere.
When not adventuring around the cliff faces & rock walls of Lake Garda; we made the most of €1 espressos – these are tasty wherever you go, the cheap beer – Birra Moretti was our pick of the bunch, the amazing italian food and the endless amounts of gelato shops! Lake Garda is truly an amazing destination.
Danny & Timmy enjoying a well earned Weissbier in Riva Del Garda after the adventures of Day 1.