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Italy's Lys Trail — a trek at the foot of Monte Rosa

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Italy's Lys Trail — a trek at the foot of Monte Rosa

Hiking Collection by Marika Abbà

9

Tours

44:10 h

57.4 mi

24,775 ft

Lys Trail is a trek of around 86 kilometres (53 mi) that takes you through the Lys Valley across nine stages. The route starts from Pont-Saint-Martin, a municipality on the border between Valle d'Aosta and Piedmont, and ends in Staffal, the last village in the valley.

Over the course of the stages, the landscape around you changes dramatically and exceptionally; your eyes will hardly have time to get used to one panorama before another, even more exhilarating, will appear.

You start from a small village at the bottom of the valley and walk alongside luxuriant vineyards climbing the slopes of the mountains. The trail continues to stone and wooden villages; you walk on ancient mule tracks and skirt terraced slopes; you immerse yourself in coniferous forests, discover the biodiversity of the Mont Mars Nature Reserve and cross large pasture areas; you tickle the feet of Monte Rosa, coming close to touching its glaciers before descending to the valley floor and returning to everyday life.

In this trek, it’s not only nature that will be the main protagonist, but also tradition. In the Lys Valley, the Walser identity is very strong. This cultural identity has its roots in the 13th century, when groups of German-speaking people came down from the Swiss canton of Valais and settled in this area of the Aosta Valley and northern Piedmont. You will read many names written in 'töitschu', the dialect of the Issime municipality, and in 'titsch', the dialect of the Gressoney area, all of which share a Germanic origin. Here and there you will come across the coat of arms of the Walser community of Valle del Lys: a red and white heart with ten stars inside, surmounted by a peculiar runic cross.

This itinerary requires good physical preparation and experience hiking on alpine terrain, as there are some exposed sections. It’s therefore essential that you do not suffer from vertigo if you go on this trek.

The best time to set out is from July to September. In mid-September, a very famous race is held throughout the Aosta Valley: the Tor des Geants. This is a trail running race that lasts about a week, touches 34 municipalities, and runs along the paths and passes of the Alte Vie of the Aosta Valley, also covering the area covered by the Trekking del Lys. If you start your route at the same time as this event, you may not be able to find a place to sleep or see the traditional routine of accommodation, refuges and villages as everything is adapted to this competition, which is very much celebrated by the people of Valle d'Aosta.

I advise you to book your accommodation well in advance'. Wild camping in Valle d'Aosta is only permitted above an altitude of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft), from dusk to dawn, and is forbidden near refuges.

Clothing wise, pack for every eventuality, as the trail takes you to high altitudes and there are often temperature fluctuations or sudden changes in the weather. Don't forget sun cream, sunglasses, a good supply of bars, food and water. Ah, of course, a pair of sturdy boots and trekking poles are essential too.

You can get to Pont-Saint-Martin by train or bus from Milan and Turin, or by car, which you can park near the public gardens. For the return journey, there’s also a direct bus connection from Staffal to Pont-Saint-Martin.

Happy walking!

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Trekking del Lys

52.8 mi

22,850 ft

18,000 ft

Last updated: July 8, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Pont-Saint-Martin to Lillianes — Lys Trails

    Difficult
    05:05
    6.81 mi
    1.3 mph
    4,300 ft
    900 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first stage of the Trekking del Lys is among all the most demanding as regards the difference in height.

    

    Start from Piazza IV Novembre and proceed in the direction of the Roman Bridge. This bridge dates back to 25 BC. and is anchored on both sides to the living rock. If you look closely at the base

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  • Difficult
    05:08
    6.30 mi
    1.2 mph
    2,800 ft
    2,725 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The second stage surprises for the wealth of views. I wanted to enrich the original route by adding two peaks along the route, so as to make it even more exciting.

    

    From La Sassaz go towards Le Praz de Bosc on the path that crosses meadows and woodlands. From here continue until you reach the "Pian di

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  • Intermediate
    03:38
    4.10 mi
    1.1 mph
    2,925 ft
    875 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    I wanted to divide the third stage of the Lys Trekking into two distinct stages, in order to contain both the difference in height and the development, so you can enjoy them more.

    Return to Pian Coumarial and take the path that goes into the larch and fir forest. Larches are the only conifers that completely

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    by Marika Abbà

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  • Difficult
    07:23
    9.45 mi
    1.3 mph
    3,200 ft
    4,825 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The day begins with breakfast overlooking the lake in the quiet of the Mont Mars Nature Reserve. Today's stage includes some steep passages, sometimes exposed, so it is good that the weather forecasts are favorable. In case of a thunderstorm it is better to give up.

    

    Reassemble your backpack and return

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    by Marika Abbà

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  • Difficult
    06:56
    8.99 mi
    1.3 mph
    3,700 ft
    3,475 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The fifth stage makes you immerse yourself completely in the Walser culture. Before taking the wonderful, perfectly paved mule track that starts behind Gruba and leads to Colle Lazouney, take a quarter of an hour to walk through the streets of Gruba and Niel. The houses here have a very particular architecture

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    by Marika Abbà

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  • Difficult
    05:18
    7.12 mi
    1.3 mph
    2,550 ft
    2,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The sixth stage of the Trekking del Lys unfolds under the watchful eye of Monte Rosa, which will be a constant presence along today's journey.

    

    Leave the hamlet of Cialvrino, immerse yourself in the pines, flank Alpe Ranzola Superiore and reach Colle Ranzola. This pass, located at 2,171 meters above sea

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  • Intermediate
    02:37
    4.61 mi
    1.8 mph
    950 ft
    850 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Today's stage is very quiet, so you can take all the time you want and indulge in long moments of relaxation.

    

    Leave Alpenzu Grande behind you and proceed towards the village of Alpenzu Piccolo and, with a short ups and downs among the stone villages, you reach the town of Gressoney-La-Trinité.

    

    Gressoney

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  • Difficult
    03:19
    4.31 mi
    1.3 mph
    2,775 ft
    0 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Leave Anderbatt and head towards Staffal, cross the bridge over the Lys stream and begin the climb towards the glaciers of Monte Rosa. Today you will almost feel like you are touching them with your hand.

    

    Reach Alpe Mos and from there continue to climb through larch woods that flank rocky walls. As you

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  • Difficult
    04:48
    5.70 mi
    1.2 mph
    1,600 ft
    4,200 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The dawn of the last stage can only take place under the majestic Monte Rosa. Close your backpack and leave the Orestes Hütte, a breathtaking stage awaits you!

    

    Climb the valley until you reach Colle Salza at 2,882 meters above sea level in the company of groups of ibex. Leave the official track that descends

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    9
  • Distance
    57.4 mi
  • Duration
    44:10 h
  • Elevation
    24,775 ft

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