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Monday, September 16, 2013

Walking: Excellent Trail Maps

With the start of autumn, cooler temperatures, and colorful foliage, I'm so happy that I was shown this link, on the CAI Stresa website, of the best maps I've ever seen for the official hiking and walking trails around this area.  CAI, Club Alpino Italiano, has, for more than 150 years now, promoted and organized all sorts of outdoor activities in the region, focusing primarily on trekking and cycling. The Stresa chapter is more than 60 years old. 

Many visitors write asking about walking trails in Stresa. I've even been stopped on the streets and asked for directions to the beginning of the trails and for other trail information. I knew the basics, but these maps go far beyond the few trails I already knew. There are three maps, each giving a mid-aerial view of the hills, first over Stresa, and then over Baveno and Verbania. Here's Stresa:


  (    continued ...    )


Beautiful perspective, that really gives a clear sense of the area in a way we can never see from the ground. Mt. Mottarone, for example, may be farther, both in distance and elevation, than you were thinking. Or once you've done Mottarone, did you know there were so many others to try? I didn't...

Now, I know the map looks too small to be useful. But on the website, you can zoom in a good distance by clicking once, giving this closer view. Then, you can hold down your mouse and move around the map.


On the website images are much larger than my screenshots here. They are definitely large and clear enough. For example, although street names are not given, I think one can discern where to find the entrance to the L1 trail to Mottarone, a common question. (Walk up via Selvalunga until you see first the entrance for the L5, and then for the L1 at the first sharp turn, in case you are interested.)

But the maps offer much more than just this. There are two links just above the map on the top right. One is a legend, explaining that red lines are the hiking trails and the yellow are mountain biking trails, white are roads, as well as sleeping, eating, and scenic information. The other link lists each trail, offering specifics such as the length, the estimated time needed to complete it, and the level of difficulty.


As you can see, the L1 is considered medium difficulty, and takes approximately 4 hours and 10 minutes. Having walked it, I can say that is accurate.

My thought is that I will use these as maps to print out and bring when doing a particular trail for the first time. Although the trails are known to be well-marked, I think it would be a helpful thing to have along. 


Official CAI membership costs 41 euro a year, with additional members in the same family costing 22 euro (those under 18 cost 16 euro). The membership allows one to participate in all activities, and covers insurances as well.  Whether a member or not, thinking of joining or not, the website offers a wealth of information and ideas, also available in English, such as the maps featured here. 



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