Taibon Agordino – Rifugio Scarpa
CAI Path 769
Hello everybody, welcome back on the pages of our blog for another adventure from the Heart of the Dolomites, the Agordino UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site!
Today we talk about a wonderful hike in the Conca Agordina area that we have recently had the pleasure to walk along last weekend and that can be a valid autumnal hiking proposal (and also a wintry one, until the first snow falls, obviously). The CAI Path number 769 is a charming mid-mountain trail that connects the valley floor of the Municipality of Taibon Agordino to the Rifugio Scarpa – Gurekian at the foot of the impressive Mount Agner (the “Giant of the Dolomites”) in the famous Pala Group (Pale di San Martino). This hike is long and thus suitable for well-trained hikers; but it is at the same time free from technical difficulties and thus stimulating for those who like to hike in the mountains surrounded by the marvellous spectacle of the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site!
It had been a while since we had noticed this trail; we bumped into it several times during our explorations of the base of Mount Agner but we never had the chance to entirely walk along it from the beginning to the end. Asking around for more information, we found out that this path was not really well-known among our friends and in general among the hikers in our area, even if it was considered from everybody an interesting alternative to the usual one that reaches Rifugio Scarpa – Gurekian from Frassenè (Municipality of Voltago Agordino). Taking advantage of a sunny and warm November Sunday, we eventually decided to see what this proposal had in store for us; as usual, we hope you’ll like this article and that many of you will come to try this wonderful hike in the Pala Group next Summer.
We started off relatively early in the morning (unfortunately there are a few hours of light in this season) from the sporting areas of the Municipality of Taibon Agordino in the town center, where there are plenty of free parking choices. The valley floor has been hardly hit by the Vaia Storm in 2018 and the place has undergone (and it is still undergoing) many works aimed to restore its fruibility and enhance its touristic usability. These works are also testified by the remarkable amount of recently reopened paths and mule tracks, which are now perfectly walkable and well marked. This collective effort deserves in itself the appreciation of the enthusiasts of the Dolomites, that we warmly invite to visit these marvellous surroundings. The CAI Path 769 starts off in proximity of the entrance to the wild San Lucano Area, almost half a mile upstreams; but given the position of the parking lots of the sporting area, the path can be easily reached also using the above mentioned new trails. As usual, we recommend to get prepared for every hike in the Dolomites, also for the easiest ones, by studying the itinerary on books, maps and websites; to consult the local Tourist Information Offices for useful updates (especially after an event like Vaia); to bring a good trail map, supply of water and, of course, clothes suitable for excursions in the mountains.
Following the trail signs towards Fason and the Rifugio Scarpa – Gurekian, we rapidly gained altitude and we enjoyed some very nice views on the hamlets of Taibon Agordino and of the Dolomitic Heritage that surrounds them. As said above, this area deserves the attention of tourism for the incredible arrangement work that has been carried out by the CAI and by the many local volunteers on the historic trails and mule tracks; even if the conclusion of these works is still long to come, considering the violence of the Vaia Storm, what has been realized here is a little Dolomitic miracle that deserves esteem and support. Bravo CAI!
The first part of our hike towards Fason took place in an enchanting autumnal wood and always on a very comfortable mule track. The trail signs to Rifugio Scarpa – Gurekian and the CAI bichromatic trail marks are usually frequent and well-visible, even if in some parts Vaia has damaged the woodland so much that many years will be necessary to completely arrange the signage.
After crossing the charming Fason, we bumped into the most conspicuous of the damages of the Vaia Storm: an entire conifer forest lies on the ground, felled by the fury of the winds. If one would follow what was the trail before the Vaia Storm, it would be necessary to cross this sea of felled trees; the path is of course still present in many maps that have been printed before the storm. But luckily there’s no need to do it: by following the same main road, even if it seems to go down towards the valley floor, you will find the conjunction with the original 769 path after ten minutes. The accommodation work carried out in this place is remarkable and worthy of praise.
A very enjoyable passage in the woods, that sometimes allows the view go wide on the San Sebastiano, Cime di Zità and Talvena, Celo and Monti del Sole groups, led us in a few minutes in Malga Agner de Fora; we already visited this place some weeks ago, on the occasion of our article about the Miniussi Nature Trail (if you have missed it, you can read it here). The view on Mount Agner that we enjoyed approaching the Malga was something truly unique and striking: try to believe.
From Malga Agner de Fora we followed the last part towards Rifugio Scarpa; the wonderful, sunny day attracted dozens of hikers around the rifugio, despite forced temporary closure of the structure due to force majeure. This area, exciting and easily reachable, lives a second Golden Age among hikers thanks to the work of many local people, among which we cite Marco Bergamo, Mountain Guide and manager of the rifugio, that has been able to pump new life in this business. Our best wishes from our Team goes to him and to every tour operator of the Agordino and of the Dolomites, people that are facing a very difficult moment due to the Covid epidemic. Let’s hope to be able to return looking at the future with serenity soon and to be able to welcome guests from all over the world in the heart of our land, a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site.
A pleasant picnic under a warm November sun prepared us for the return to Taibon; we chose to take the Miniussi Trail for a while, just to vary a little bit our hike, going back to the 769 after a few minutes, before reaching Malga Agner de Fora. The day offered us the best weather conditions to properly admire the wonderful Dolomites groups of the Conca Agordina, of the Val del Mis and of the Valbelluna.
The return was fast and enjoyable since being almost exclusively downhill and on the practical mule track. When we had almost arrived, we took a small detour to visit the interesting Sass de le Cros (the “Crosses’ Rock”), a historical attraction that we never had the chance to see in person before. This rock, located in the woodland of Taibon Agordino, displays more than 200 cross-shaped engravings, many of which are centuries-old, with letters and strange forms. The engravings were probably made as a kind of ex voto tribute by the local inhabitants throughout the Centuries, but the legend tells that they were made by the “Userta”, a local outlaw and hit man from the 17th Century, that made a cross for each one of his victims. A historical gem that enthusiasts of Dolomitic history cannot miss!
To sum up, we spent a wonderful day of sporting activity at the foot of the Pale di San Martino, visiting some of the most charming places of the Agordino side of this mountain range and some of the (unjustly) lesser known ones in a marvelous autumnal day. The CAI Path 769 definitely deserves the attention of the hiker enthusiasts, even just for the care and efforts spent from the CAI and from the local volunteers to clean it up and arrange it after the Vaia Storm.
To reach the Scarpa – Gurekian from Taibon almost 3 hours and a half are needed; the altitude gap is remarkable (almost 1000 meters) but the path is free from technical difficulties and from climbs that are too demanding. The CAI Path 769 represents a wonderful, original and valid alternative to the well-known itinerary that reaches the Rifugio Scarpa from Frassenè; if you are looking for a nice trail for a good walk or run in the Conca Agordina area next summer, you should take it into account.
We’d like to spend a few words on Taibon Agordino to conclude this article; this marvellous Dolomitic village of the Conca Agordina, surrounded by remarkable peaks that suddenly plummer to the valley floor for hundreds of meters, is really throwing itself into tourism promotion to get a rid of the nightmare of Vaia and to look for a future, even if not completely based on it (since industry remains its main source of incoming), at least enhanced by the turistic fruition of its enchanting territory.
Obviously, considering the dimension of our villages and the lack of huge hotel complexes, there couldn’t be any mass tourism, like in Cortina d’Ampezzo for instance; but this is not what the village is trying to attract. Tour operators are looking for a conscious kind of tourism, built up by lovers of nature, of the Dolomites and of the originality; crafty and intelligent people looking for the true Dolomites and untouched nature, far away from mass tourism and confusion, able to appreciate the unique features of these small villages surrounded by the impressive peaks of the Dolomites. A lot of new things are about to come out for this kind of guests, and we’ll have for sure other chances to talk about them. In the meanwhile, feel free to deepen into these topics by reading our pages on Taibon Agordino (click here), on the Conca Agordina (click here) and on the Dolomites in the Agordino area (click here).
A strange winter season is about to begin, overshadowed by the spectre of lockdowns and the uncertainty of a situation that is evolving too rapidly to make programmes; in this sad time, our best wishes go to those who are in difficulties because of the epidemic and to all that fight every day to stop it. We wish you all the best for the days to come, hoping we will be back to normal soon, waiting to welcome you again in our wonderful Dolomites. Stay tuned for other adventures and stories from the Heart of the Dolomites!
Tourist Information Office:
Ufficio Turistico di Agordo
Tel. +39 437 62105