Length: 8,6 km from Armentara
Altitude metres: 586 hm
Recommended bike: eMTB, Enduro, all mountain
Biking technique: ●●●○○
Biking fun: ●●●●○
Best time for travel: May - October
Possibility for a stop: Heiligkreuz Hospitz
For us friends of the mountains are the Dolomites a hiking, road biking and increasingly a biking paradise. Alone the word “Dolomites“ triggers dreams in most of us. However, these mountains have “only” been carrying this wonderful sounding name since 1792. Back then, the French natural scientist Dieudonné-Silvain-Guy-Tancrède de Gratet de Dolomieu published an article about a new type of limestone discovered between Bolzano and Trent with the headline ”Analyse de Dolomie“ in the ”Journal de Physique“. This is how the Dolomites - the “world’s most beautiful mountains“ according to some famous mountaineers like Reinhold Messner - got their name. We found Trail N°15 at the base of the typically rugged rock needles in Alta Badia, and we knew immediately: This is a signature trail.
As usual in Italy, we are yet again pampered to our complete satisfaction. This time, Hotel Gran Paradiso in St. Kassian had the pleasure to present us the advantages of South Tyrolean culinary delights and hospitality. After a good night’s sleep and well-fed, we get on our E-mountain bikes with fully charged batteries. If you go on a tour in this region, you can bet that the route will lead uphill at some point.
Starting from the hotel, the road leads in direction Badia. There you have two options for conquering the around 700 altitude metres in direction Heiligkreuz Hospitz, one of our destinations today. One option is taking the Santa Croce and La Crusc lift, which offer bike transport and guarantee a scenic ascent to Heiligkreuz Hospitz and the Dliia da la Crusc place of prayer. The chairlifts float towards the huge limestone massif of the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park as if the end of the La Crusc lift is attached to the massive rock face of the Heiligkreuzkofel, which rises 2,900 metres above sea level towards the sky. Taking the second option, you bike from Badia to Wengen and follow the road to the trail access.
Like a fairy tale
Typical for the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park are the quaint alpine pastures and vast plateaus which have given the park its name: Fanes - Ladin for plateaus, and Sennes - Ladin for alpine pastures. The ascent from Wengen is leisurely; not only because of our tour and turbo modes on the E-MTB, but also because the incline is pleasant. A few altitude metres later and we have reached the unbelievably dreamy and lovingly cared for meadows of Armentara shortly before the access to the trail. The around 300 hectares of meadow area carries us into a fairy tale world. But we can continue dreaming another time. After all, we want action and the trail offers plenty of it.
The trail is initially rather steep and leads uphill away from the meadows of Armentara and closer to the west face of the Heiligkreuzkofel. We are constantly amazed how our E-MTBs manage obstacles on the way uphill. With a bit of effort and good balance, larger sections, rock gardens and root passages are easily crossed on the uphill route. The fun factor increases and is in the deep-red range as we approach the face of the Heiligkreuzkofel. Before we reach the downhill run from around 2,060 metres above sea level in direction Heiligkreuz Hospitz, we take a detour to the ”Grotta del Ghiaccio“, which is directly at the base of the Heiligkreuzkofel. The grotto is formed by accumulated snow after especially snowy and cold winters and is perfectly insulated by boulders and debris, creating an accessible cave with dripstones on the ceiling and a difference in temperature of perceived minus 20 degrees. If you are a daredevil, climb through the cave. If not, then enjoy the view. But not for too long, because the trail, promising fun, speed and some technical challenges, is already waiting up here. Judging from the topography, this is a typical enduro trail: ﬂowy, interlinked and here and there with short pedalling passages.
At Heiligkreuz Hospitz, which was founded as accommodation for pilgrims in 1718, we top up our energy levels with kaiserschmarrn. A new section of the trail starts here. Mainly downhill but also along the contour line for a long time, the trail meanders in direction St. Kassian. There are some stones on the way but the trail is fast, actually very fast. But thanks to our fullys, highly recommended here, the trail is always flowy and meanders almost to the hotel’s front door. Simply amazing!