Forcella San Tomaso Ring Tour
Cencenighe Agordino – Forcella San Tomaso – Vallada Agordina – Cencenighe Agordino
by agordino dolomiti..it
Hi everybody, welcome back for a new article by our Team! We hope you will like it and that it will be helpful for you to get new ideas for your adventures in the Heart of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site! This article should have been entitles “When the Sunday afternoon walk turns out into an unexpected Dolomitic experience”, but we chose to be more synthetic for editorial needs.
We were thinking in the past weeks to write something about Forcella San Tomaso, a charming and wild mountain pass that connects the two Municipalities of Vallada Agordina and San Tomaso Agordino; so we started walk towards this place, and after reaching the spot, we thought it would have been a great idea to include some historical gems of Vallada Agordina in the article, proposing an interesting ring excursion to our readers. The tour described in this article is the result of this half day spent to explore one of the widest place of the Agordino area, that is the triangle formed by Mount Anime, Piz Croce and Mount Celenton. Enjoy!
We are talking about an area mainly covered in wild forests and definitely far from the most frequented hiking itineraries of the Val Biois and Val Cordevole, but nevertheless very interesting for those who like to discover new places of the UNESCO Dolomites and to walk in the mountains with enchanting natural surroundings.
We are definitely very satisfied with this hike, for a series of reasons that we will see together later, and we do hope you will like the article and our simple report of this day; ladies and gentlemen, here’s an interesting and original ring hike in the Heart of the Dolomites!
Important: the tour we’re going to talk about takes place on the side of the Val Biois of the above mentioned triangle formed by the Piz Croce – Monte Anime – Celenton; but it could have been taken place also on the side of the Val Cordevole, since the area is plenty of marvelous hiking trails also on that side. Because of this, we have indicated in this article all the different hiking possibilities that appears on each crossroad we met during the excursion, in order to give you the best information about the area. Furthermore, being this a ring excursion, you can freely choose where to start the hike; we have chosen the hamlet of Balestier, randomly, but please notice that you can start this wonderful tramp wherever you like.
Immediately after lunch, we started our trek from the sunny hamlet of Balestier in the Municipality of Cencenighe Agordino, a charming district dominated by the imposing Mount Pelsa. Right above the small group of houses of the hamlet, we met immediately the hiking signs of the CAI Path 681, that are clearly visible on a nice field with view on Mount Pape. The ascent begins immediately on an ancient and steep mule track in the wood.
Walking along the CAI Path 681, climbing the steep slope of the Monte Anime, we have the chance to enjoy some beautiful serial views on Cencenighe Agordino after a few minutes.
The path winds on a charming trail through the forest in this first part, and after a few minutes we were already approaching the summit of Mount Anime, from which we could enjoy a very charming view on the Cencenighe Agordino basin. On site there’s a nice picnic area and a beautiful wooden sculpture.
It’s important to point out that the whole area, although fiercely hit by the winds of the Vaia Storm in October 2018, has been marvelously tidied up by the Agordino volunteers: the hiking signs are always well visible along the CAI Path 681, bicolor indications are well displayed everywhere and there’s no difficulty to cross even the places in which the felled trees are the majority. Walking on this path is worth even if only for the efforts of this amazing volunteers that have cleaned up all the way to Forcella San Tomaso; if we add to this some wonderful views on Val Biois and Val Cordevole, well the hike becomes more than recommended to all the guests looking for a wonderful hike in the Dolomites UNESCO. A sincere thank you to all the people involved in the reorganization of our trails after the fury of the Vaia Storm.
We reached then Costa Dagher after almost half an hour; here we found many hiking signs on this important crossroads, indicating the different hiking destinations of each trail: San Tomaso Agordino on the Val Cordevole side, the San Simon Church on the Val Biois side, and Forcella San Tomaso between the two valleys straight ahead, the place were we were we wanted to go.
From here on, the sole of the Piz Croce is completely covered in felled trees scattered throughout the area by the Vaia Storm. But even were it seemed impossible, the way is clearly visible and walkable, and the bicolor signs of the Path 681 are always present everywhere, indicating which way to go.
After this last slope, we met the signs to Forcella San Tomaso. The path becomes in this place a mule track, wide and comfortable, that winds through meadows and nice woods with views on Mount Pape and the Pala Group. In this place, the fury of Vaia hit less violently, even if signs of recent works are clearly visible. The place is plenty of hiking signs, among which the ones of the CAI Path and the ones of the Alta Via dei Pastori, so no danger to get lost here.
Close to Forcella San Tomaso, we found ouserlves on a proper road; the area is undergoing in these days some works in order to make it wider and reachable also by car. At Forcella San Tomaso we found also the Madonna Monument built by the Alpini in 2016.
Right below the monument we met the hiking signs of the San Tomaso Tourism Association and of the Alta Via dei Pastori; on the right side, going downstream on a nice trail, you can go to the hamlets of Canacede and Pianezze in the Municipality of San Tomaso Agordino; we took on the other hand the path on the left, towards Cogul and Vallada Agordina, marked with the signs of the Via dei Papi.
The day was sunny and warm, and the afternoon light make this part of our like even more charming; in a few minutes we were already on the asphalt road that leads to Vallada Agordina. At the crossroads between the hamlet of Cogul and Piaz, we definitely suggest you to take a small tour of Cogul, if you have time enough once you reach this point. Cogul is a fascinating mountain village in which time seems to have stopped; the nice small church of the village welcomes guests in a true, genuine Dolomites place, full of delightful tabià (the wooden barns of the Dolomites) and bucolic views on the Marmolada Group.
Then we went donwstream following the main road of Vallada Agordina through the hamlets of Piaz and Andrich; Vallada is a Municipality among our favorite ones in the Dolomites, a place so original and untouched that it is worth a visit. The small hamlets of this town are full of barns, historical houses, churches, frescos (the Val Biois is also called “the Valley with Saints at the Window” for the presence of many centuries-old frescos depicting sacred scenes and enhanced by a collection promoted by the Veneto Region) and many other hidden gems to be discovered. The unique charm of this village, common to many other of the Agordino area, consists in the fact that everything is almost exactly as it was 100 years ago, so the places have maintained their aspect which is something guests can’t find in the more famous tourist destinations of the Dolomites, full of plastic attractions and mass-tourism offers.
From Andrich we reached the hamlet of Sacchet; here we took the side road to the ancient Church of San Simon, an Italian National Monument since 1877. Located at the foot of Mount Celentone, the Monumental Church of San Simon in Vallada Agordina is a gem of historical and artistic importance. It is the oldest church of the Val Biois (historically attested at least since the 10th Century but probably older) and one of the oldest of the Province of Belluno and of the entire Dolomitic area. The legend says that it was built by Celentone, a Romas soldier that came in the Val Biois as a consquence of the Barbarian Invasions. This place is full of charm and mystery, and the church houses many remarkable artistic treasures, as some frescos from Paris Bordone, one of the most famous Italian artists of the 16th Century.
Also the nearby Oratoy of the Confraternita dei Battuti deserves a mention here; this building has been recently added to the list of the Luoghi del Cuore of the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (an association that promotes precious artistic monuments in danger of being lost). You can contribute to sustain this building by signing in the dedicated campaign on their website (link here).
After leaving the San Simon Church, we took the path in the wood that starts right below the monument, that leads to the hamlets of Celat and Mas. Trails are very well marked also here. We took the one leading to Celat, that allowed us to cross the Biois River after crossing the 346 Provincial Road and to take the cycling path that connects Canale d’Agordo to Cencenighe Agordino. In Celat, looking up on the Anime, the path we walked a few hours ago is clearly visible.
The Cycle Path of the Val Biois has been hit very fiercely by the Vaia Storm, but is currently in good conditions after the restoration works of the past months. In order to get further information about this attraction, we definitely suggest you to contact the Tourist Offices of the area (contacts here below). The natural context in which the cycle path finds itself is beautiful, with the bucolic Biois River and the striking canyon formed by the Pape and the Anime; in a few minutes we were reaching the Municipal Road towards San Tomaso Agordino, ready for the last part of the hike.
After the second curve going towards San Tomaso, we took the mule track on the right side leading to Balestier. This is another path cleaned up and re-opened by the many Agordino volunteers after the Vaia Storm. Once we reached Balestier, the starting point of our today’s adventure, we enjoyed the last sunlight reflexes on Mount Pelsa after this marvelous trek.
It took 6 hours for us to finalize this hike, with not particularly fast pace and with numerous photographic breaks and small detours. The road to be walked is anyway long, so this is a tour addressed only to hiking enthusiasts and sporting guests looking for a nice walk in the Dolomites. The altitude gaps of the tour are not particularly remarkable, even if some challenging slopes are present in the first part of the hike until Costa Dagher. We like to repeat that CAI Path 681 is perfectly kept and deserves a visit, and along the way there are many other very clearly indicated hikes equipped with hiking signs. We suggest you, as usual, to take a good hiking map with you for this trail (we used Tabacco 015 to plan the excursion).
So, we started with the desire of taking a small walk and we returned at the starting point with a some kilometers and with a lot of satisfaction. There are many fabulous landscapes you can admire with this trek and you will for sure appreciate the great effort the volunteers use to maintain this path. Perhaps in the future we will return here to write an article on the detour leading on the Val Cordevole, it is definitely worth it. This said, thank you very much for being with us today and stay tuned for many other adventures and news from the Heart of the Dolomites – See you soon!
Tourist Information Offices
Pro Loco Cencenighe Agordino
Tel. +39 437 591549
Pro Loco San Tomaso Agordino
Tel.+39 437 598390
Pro Loco Vallada Agordina
Tel. +39 324 5906493
Tel. 2 +39 349 5483129