Hikes in Alpi Marittime Natural Park

Region in Italy

The soaring peaks of the Maritime Alps tower over the lush Piedmont valleys, creating a magical natural spectacle. As eagles soar overhead, you may catch a glimpse of a herd of ibex, grazing close to a crystal clear alpine lake. Wildflowers coat the rocky ridges, and high mountain passes beckon hikers, flanked by grey peaks and glistening glaciers. Welcome to Italy’s Alpi Marittime Natural Park.

The Alpi Marittime Natural Park, nestled close to the Mediterranean and the border with France, has long enjoyed royal patronage. In 1855, the Italian King Vittorio Emanuele II was so enamored by this magnificent region that he decided to make it his own royal hunting reserve. Many of the buildings and roads that you see in the park date from this period, although today the emphasis is on conservation, not hunting. Indeed, the Maritime Alps are home to some incredible flora and fauna, including ibex, chamois, grey wolves, golden eagles, delicate orchids and whistling marmots.

The Alpi Marittime Natural Park is twinned with its French neighbor, the Mercantour National Park, and these two beautiful regions share a lot in common. With high, craggy mountain passes, expansive grassy plains, and lush wildflowers, both the Maritime Alps and the Mercantour boast some magnificent scenery. Where the Alpi Marittime Natural Park may have the edge, however, is in the large number of impressive glaciers and shimmering lakes. These beautiful, tranquil waters reflect the grey peaks perfectly, creating stunning views on pretty much every hike on this list.

The Alpi Marittime Natural Park is often overlooked in favor of the Mercantour and other parts of the Italian Alps, but we think it’s worth taking a little time to get to know this fascinating region. To whet your appetite, here’s a list of some of our favorite hikes in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park.

Top 10 Hikes In Alpi Marittime Natural Park

The Alpi Marittime Natural Park offers tremendous variety when it comes to hiking, with towering peaks, pretty lakes and lush, green alpine scenery wherever you turn. If you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenge, you’re in luck, as some of these hikes will allow you to really push your limits and enjoy the thrill of the trail. However, if you’re looking for an altogether more leisurely experience, don’t worry. This region is littered with easy and moderate trails that will take you deep into the alpine backcountry without the need for anything too strenuous. There’s a trail here to suit everyone.

  • Lagarot di Lourousa Hike: In the local dialect ‘lagarot’ means ‘little lakes’, and this hike takes you to a peaceful, picturesque region dotted with small lakes. You’ll be walking in royal footsteps, as this path was constructed in the 19th century for the pleasure of Vittorio Emanuele II, who enjoyed hunting chamois and ibex in the region. This moderate hike shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge, and the beautiful landscape makes this route a real joy.
  • Giro del Valasco Hike: This popular trail offers some magnificent mountain views, rising past the royal hunting lodge at Valasco and a series of military tracks that were constructed by the Italian army in the 1930s. The trail climbs steadily, and is relatively long, so you may wish to break it up with an overnight stay at one of the pretty rifugios along the way.
  • Vallone Argentera Hike: The Argentera is the highest mountain in the Alpi Marittime region, and this hike takes you into the beautiful valley that lies in the shadow of this immense peak. You’ll enjoy magnificent views over the peaks that make up the Argentera massif, and the rest of the Alpi Marittime Natural Park. This region is rich in mountaineering history, much of it based at the Rifugio Bozano, where generations of mountaineers earned their reputations. If you’ve got the time, we’d highly recommend an overnight stay here, where you can expect a friendly welcome and some excellent wine and cheese!
  • Rifugio Remondino Hike: The Rifugio Remondino is situated on a rocky outcrop in an incredibly picturesque circle of tall, craggy peaks. The trail ascends in a series of switchbacks, passing through beautiful landscapes littered with pretty, rare flowers and chamois or mouflon sheep. The rifugio itself is a wonderful place for a pit stop, and you’re sure to receive a warm welcome from the friendly hosts. If you’re a keen rock climber, this is also an excellent base for exploring some of the fantastic routes on the higher peaks in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park.
  • Gorge della Reina Hike: The famous ‘canyon of the queen’ is a magnificent spot behind the village of Entracque. The canyon is particularly picturesque, and in May and June it’s possible to find a dazzling array of wild orchids strewn across the path. One you reach the top, you’ll enjoy wonderful views over the village of Entracque and the Alpi Marittime Natural Park, including the Vallne Barra and the Lausetto Mountain.
  • Il Piano del Praiet Hike: This fantastic hike offers views over one of the last remaining glaciers in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park, on the steep northern slopes of Mount Gelas. The route follows the river, ascending through forests and green pastures with the towering peaks of Mount Gelas and the Cougourda looming overhead. The destination of the hike is the Rifugio Soria, a friendly, welcoming refuge with fantastic views over the surrounding landscape.
  • Lago del Vei del Bouc Hike: The Vei del Bouc Lake is one of the most picturesque lakes in the whole of the Alpi Marittime Natural Park, and that’s saying something! The trail is somewhat challenging, with a steep, relentless ascent but the reward is worth every bit of effort. The lake itself is a peaceful spot for a picnic, surrounded by dramatic mountains such as the Gelas peaks and the Maledia peak. We think this is one of the best hikes in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park.
  • Rifugio Pagarì Hike: Looking for a challenging hike in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park? Look no further than this popular hike, which takes you to the highest rifugio in the region. The rifugio itself makes a great base for activities in the region, whether it be rock climbing, hiking, or simply relaxing and observing the beautiful scenery and wildlife. The trail is steep and strenuous, but this is a deeply satisfying and rewarding hike.
  • Laghi Arbergh Hike: The Arbergh Valley offers tremendous diversity for hikers, passing through lush forests, green meadows, limestone cliffs and sandstone rock formations. The local flora is remarkably diverse and lush, with many rare flowers endemic to the region. With tranquil lakes, lush forests, and dramatic boulder fields, this hike has it all, and makes a wonderful day out in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park.
  • Rifugio Garelli Hike: The Rifugio Garelli lies in the heart of the Valle Pesio, surrounded by beautiful limestone mountains and with views over the Ligurian Alps. The path snakes through sparse woodland and across open grassy plains, before ascending to the rifugio where you’ll have magnificent views at every turn. This hike is best completed in July, when the rhododendrons are in bloom and the mountain prairies are studded with purple.

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Alpi Marittime Natural Park?

The best time to hike in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park is between May and October, when you’ll have the chance of the best weather out on the trail. October and November can be very wet in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park, and you’ll find that snows block many of the higher-elevation trails. In the peak of summer (July and August) the trails can be somewhat crowded, and the weather is often very hot, making some exposed trails a little uncomfortable. As a result, we think the best time to go hiking in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park is in June or September. This way you avoid the crowds, get the best of the weather, and you’ll have the chance to see either spring flowers (in June) or the turning autumn leaves (in September).

Other Outdoor Activities In Alpi Marittime Natural Park

In addition to its stellar hiking trails, there are plenty of other outdoor activities on offer in the Alpi Marittime Natural Park! This beautiful region is ideal for rock climbing, backpacking, camping, and even tackling a vertiginous Via Ferrata! The Alpi Marittime Natural Park is a haven for wildlife, and there are many opportunities to take a guided nature tour, including trips where you might get the chance to catch a glimpse of a wolf. Wildlife watching and stargazing are on the agenda in this natural paradise, or you can brave the cold waters and try a little wild swimming in one of the many lakes. What’s more, this region has many distinctive cultural attractions, from picturesque villages to charming churches, not to mention the fantastic cheese and wine of the Piedmont region!

How To Plan A Trip To Alpi Marittime Natural Park

If you’re looking for a hiking adventure with a difference in the Italian Alps, look no further than the Alpi Marittime Natural Park. To help you navigate your stay and get the most out of your holiday, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to planning a trip to the Alpi Marittime Natural Park. Check out our top recommendations on where to go, where to stay, and what to do when you’re in the area, as well as the lowdown on all the best hikes. This beautiful park is often overlooked in favor of its grander, taller neighbors – why not buck the trend, avoid the crowds, and make the Alpi Marittime Natural Park your next hiking getaway?

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Best Hikes in Alpi Marittime Natural Park

Open details for Lagarot di Lourousa

Lagarot di Lourousa

Moderate
9.8 km
819 m
4-5.5h

As you hike through the larch forest, the trail will switchback an awful lot, although it isn’t steep. The path was built at the end of the nineteenth century to allow King Vittorio Emanuele II to ride on horseback while hunting chamois and ibex.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.5
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Giro del Valasco

Giro del Valasco

Very Hard
21.6 km
1,511 m
8-11h

If the Valle Gesso were to have a flagship hike, it would be the Giro del Valasco. From the King’s Valasco hunting lodge, the walk rises to the military tracks, built by the Alpine army in the 30s. They served to replenish the “Vallo Alpino” war system, which today is a monument to man’s talent and abilities, as well as to the stupidity of war. Overall, it’s a very popular trail.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.6
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Vallone Argentera

Vallone Argentera

Hard
8.1 km
994 m
4-6h

The mountain views on this hike are spectacular, which is saying something when every walk in this region takes place in the Alps. The Argentera is the highest mountain in the Alpes-Marittime. Climbing into the valley of the same name and up to Rifugio Bozano, allows admiration of this majestic mountain.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Rifugio Remondino

Rifugio Remondino

Hard
10.8 km
975 m
4.5-6.5h

If you don’t want to climb the whole mountain, this is a great day hike whose views make for a great walk. The Remondino Rifugio is also the trailhead for the South Argentera peak (3,297 m) the last of the Italian Alps’ great peaks. The Rifugio is 2,430 m high nestled inside a circle of mountain summits.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.4
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Gorge della Reina

Gorge della Reina

Moderate
9.2 km
655 m
3.5-5h

Behind Entracque, the "village between waters", winds the trail that leads hikers to Monte Lausa and the Gorge della Reina (the canyon of the queen), a small canyon dug into the limestone. While you hike the slopes, you can see many species of wild orchids.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Il Piano del Praiet

Il Piano del Praiet

Moderate
13.8 km
710 m
4.5-6h

Il Piano del Praiet, at the foot of Mount Gelas, has been a well-known hiking destination in the Alpi Marittime throughout history. On the northern slopes of the Gelas is one of the last glaciers in the Alpes-Marittime fading quickly due to climate change. From there, you can reach the Colle di Finestra, and walk down into France on an old salt-smugglers’ trail.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Lago del Vei del Bouc

Lago del Vei del Bouc

Hard
16.3 km
979 m
5.5-8h

The Vei del Bouc Lake is one of the most beautiful lake hikes in Alpi Marittime Natural Park. There’s something special about going on a hike that ends at a lake. Even if you don’t go for a dip (it’s too cold for that!), it’s a refreshing reward for all your hard work.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Rifugio Pagarì

Rifugio Pagarì

Very Hard
22.1 km
1,638 m
8.5-12h

The Pagarì Rifugio is the highest Rifugio that you can hike to in the Alpi Marittime. If you stay at the Rifugio there are many activities to do. Alpinists can climb up some of the peaks, or you can observe ibex and alpine rock ptarmigan. If you are looking for silence and a low impact philosophy a hike and stay here is perfect for you.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Laghi Arbergh

Laghi Arbergh

Moderate
11.1 km
879 m
4.5-6h

The Arbergh Valley (roughly translating to the high meadows) is a particularly interesting place to hike because you’ll walk past many different landscapes in a few kilometers, dominated by limestone, sandstone, beech forests, lush meadows, and more. This high biodiversity allows visitors to observe many endemic plants.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.3
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Rifugio Garelli

Rifugio Garelli

Hard
10.5 km
1,555 m
6-8.5h

One of the many great Rifugios to hike to, the Garelli Rifugio is the only Rifugio in Valle Pesio. From its windows you can enjoy the view of Punta Marguareis, a limestone mountain in the center of the Ligurian Alps. In the mountain water and time have carved some crevasses that are 700 m deep. From the Garelli Rifugio, you can get to France, or to the Vermenagna and Ellero valleys.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.

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Open details for Planning Your Trip to Italy’s Alpi Marittime Natural Park

Planning Your Trip to Italy’s Alpi Marittime Natural Park

By Richard Campbell
December 8th, 2017
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