The Salassi Trail in Val d'Aosta

Cycling on the old trail of the “mountain guardians”

Splendid panoramic views of the high alpine peaks that surround Aosta, from the Grand Combin to the Rutor all the way to Mont Blanc, cycling along the old Via dei Salassi (Salassi Trail), ‘guardians of the mountains’. It is a legendary road, once controlled by a Celtic-Ligurian population of gold diggers who, before the Roman domination on the area, ruled on these lands, demanding tolls to passing travellers.

A path between history and myth, in which you can truly enjoy the scent and silence of this alpine landscape, testing yourself with its insidious twists and turns and abrupt changes in altitude.

Itinerary description:
The ring route is 58 km long (height difference: 1,450 m), with departure from and arrival in Aosta.

From the centre of the main town, take the road to the Great St. Bernard Pass, going up to Arpuilles; Here take the SR 41 “Dei Salassi”, which gains altitude passing through different hamlets up to Ville-sur-Sarre, where you can enjoy a full view over Valle d'Aosta.
After passing Bellun (1,382 m), continue towards Saint-Nicolas; the highest point of the route is near Verrogne (1,600 m).

From here you cycle towards Charbonniere and Cerellaz, where a narrow and tortuous downward stretch starts leading to the bottom of Avise with wide views of Mont Blanc.
From Arvier we recommend taking a detour to Introd, Villeneuve, and Aymavilles, where you can then follow the signs for Gressan. The return to Aosta takes place on the easy cycle path that runs along the orographic right bank of the River Dora Baltea.

Technical advice:
The route is demanding and therefore requires good basic training.

Points of interest

AOSTA
AOSTA

Regional capital of Valle d'Aosta, the city extends like a fan toward the centre of the region, in a wide plain crossed by the River Dora Baltea. Surrounded by high mountains, including the Grand Combin, the Becca di Nona, Mount Emilius, the Pointe de Chaligne, and the Testa del Rutor, Aosta is considered a crossroads of the Alps, rising at the confluence of the roads leading to France and Switzerland through the tunnels dug under the Mont Blanc and the Great St. Bernard. The city was founded by the Romans and traces of their passage still remain, like the Arch of Augustus, the Porta Praetoria, the Roman Theatre, the Roman Cryptoporticus, and the near-complete walls. Medieval masterpieces are instead the Cathedral and the Collegiate Church of Sant’Orso, which contain important works of art (Ottonian frescoes and floor mosaics) and the 70-metre aqueduct bridge just outside the town. Also noteworthy is the megalithic area of Saint-Martin de Corléans, one of the most interesting archaeological sites in Europe.

SAINT-NICOLAS
SAINT-NICOLAS

The resort is located on a large plateau on the left bank of the River Dora Baltea, 1,200 metres above sea level, in a panoramic position on the central valley that stretches from Mount Emilius to the Rutor. In the area of Saint-Nicolas there are some conformations of particular geo-morphological interest, the calanques, characteristic erosions in the sandy soil. Moreover, the area includes numerous nature trails, both in the educational park “Bois de la Tour” and in Comba di Vertosan, a valley full of pastures where lovers of hiking and mountain biking find their ideal environment. In winter, sport lovers can find a number of cross-country skiing trails. Last but not least, the borough of Fossaz-Dessous is the home of one of the most important centres of study of the Franco-Provençal language, the “Centre d'études francoprovençales René Willien”.

INTROD
INTROD

Located in a panoramic position at 880 metres above sea level, Introd takes its name from the French “Entre Eaux” (‘between the waters’) due to its location between the River Dora di Rhêmes and the Savara stream. Of considerable historical interest is the castle of the Sarriod barons (1260), formed by a body of houses with a square keep in the middle. Worth seeing near the castle is the farmhouse “L’Ola”, a 16th-century rural building in wood and masonry. The village also features the bell tower of the parish church of San Paolo, first built in the 1500s but modified various times over the centuries. In the village of Villes-Dessous you can instead visit the Maison Bruil, one of the greatest examples of rural architecture of the Gran Paradiso, and the recently-created wildlife park, where you can admire animals typical of the Alps.

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Technical data

City of departure: Aosta

Departure: Aosta

City of arrival: Aosta

Arrival: Aosta

Length (Km): 58

Difficulty: Hard

Discipline: Cycling

Type of Itinerary: Full day

Difference in height (m): 1450

Difference in downhill (m): 1450

Highest point (m): 1603

Lowest point (m): 562

Duration (h.): 6