The Merano High Mountain Trail or "Meraner Höhenweg" is one of the nicest traverses in the whole Alps. It is characterized by a relatively constant altitude and extends in two different climatic areas: the Tessa area with a high alpine climate on one side, the Adige Valley with a submediterranean climate on the other. One can enter and leave the High Route in several points, that means you can start and stop your hikes wherever you prefer. The High Route is practicable nearly the whole year round, as the slopes (that reach an altitude of 1400 m.) are in a sunny position. As if you were on a terrace, it is possible to admire the Val Venosta, the Merano Valley, Val Passiria, Val Sarentina, the Stubaier and Ötztaler Alps. By clear sky one can enjoy a fantastic view on the Dolomites, the Brenta Group, the Cividale Massif and the Ortles. The hikers have also the opportunity of discovering an ancient rural world: the peasants, with their secular patient work, have modelled the landscape and handed down their traditions. Moreover, this High Route winds at the foot, and partly through the majestic Tessa Group Nature Park that, with 33.000 ha., becomes the ideal place to discover lakes, valleys and peaks. We suggest to program a 3-5 day long hike, in order to be able to cover the whole High Route. Obviously, you can start each single stage where you prefer, but pay attention to the accommodation facilities. In this way you can appreciate the fascinating natural contrasts that characterize the Merano area. The Merano High Route is divided into two paths: the first to the north, the second to the south.
Walking time: 3-5 days
Remarks: practicable by easy stages, too
Equipment: it depends on the itinerary you choose. The High Route, indeed offers both easy 1-day-walks and more-day-long hikes, but can also become a good starting point for your ascents to the higher peaks
The Nord Branch of the Merano Hight Route
The path starts at the foot of Mt. Santa Catarina (Val Senales), but this depends on the snow conditions, as Val di Fosse and Val di Plan are often covered with snow until late spring and subject to snowslides and landslips. Leaving Santa Catarina (1245 m.) you enter the Val di Fosse and continue to Nassereto (1534 m.), then to Casera di Fuori (1693 m.). After that we reach the Rablà huts and Maso Gelato (2069 m.). Some splendid high peaks (Cima Tessa, 3318 m., Roteck 3337 m., Bianca Grande 3281 m., Altissima 3481 m., Karlesspitze 3462 m. and Hintere Schwärze 3624 m.) crown this valley like a fantastic natural amphitheatre. Leave Maso Gelato and continue along the valley. The path becomes pebbly and climbs steeply to Passo Gelato (2908 m.), the highest point of the path. Refuge Petrarca (2875 m.) serves as a stop. The path descends to Plan (1622 m.), ends up into the Plan Valley, to rejoin the south branch of the Merano High Route near Ulfas (1500 m.), passing by Inner- and Ausserhütt.
Santa Catarina - Casera di Fuori 2½ hours
Casera di Fuori - Maso Gelato 1 hour
Maso Gelato - Refuge Petrarca 3 hours
Refuge Petrarca - Plan 1 hour
Plan - Innerhütt 1 hour
Innerhütt- Ulfas 2 hours
The best period:
late summer to autumn
follow the well-marked Path Nr. 24
The South Branch of the Merano Hight Route
From Ulfas (1369 m.), Val Passiria, the path reaches Christl (1132 m.), going by the lonely hut "Maso Gögelehof" (1295 m.). You can admire the Sarntal Alps towards the south and Pass Giovo towards the east. Past Cresta (1098 m.), Magdfeld (1147 m.) and Vernurio (1100 m.) you reach the huts "masi della Muta Alta" (1361 m.). This group of mountain houses is situated on the steedy slope of Cima della Muta. The path continues to Monte Santa Catarina (1245 m.) in Val Senales, going by the Rifugio del Valico (1839 m., the highest point in the whole south branch), Gojener Alm (1824 m.), the mountain hut Malga di Tablà (1788 m.), Nassereto (1523 m.), Montecuccolo (1535 m.), Hochforch (1555 m.),Innerforch (1460 m.), Linthof (1386 m.) and Kopfron (1436 m.).
The south branch of the Merano High Route offers the opportunity of going both for a 1-day walk and for more-day-long hikes. However, avoid this part of the High Route in case you suffer from vertigo, because there are some tracts of iron way.
Ulfas - Cresta 2½ ore
Cresta - Magdfeld 1½ ora
Magdfeld - Gander - Vernurio 3 ore
Vernurio - Gaveis - Muta Alta 4½ ora
Muta Alta - Rif. del Valico 2 ore
Rif. del Valico - Montecuccuolo 4½ ore
Montecuccolo - Monte S.ta Catarina 5 ore
The best period:
from May until the first snowfalls (November)