Mountain Hike recommended route Multi-stage route

Via Alta della Verzasca

Mountain Hike · Val Verzasca
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  • Via Alta della Verzasca
    Via Alta della Verzasca
    Photo: SEV - Società Escursionistica Verzaschese, Ascona-Locarno Tourism
The completion of the fifth hut – la Cornavòsa – in 2010 marked the restoration of all the bases on the Via Alta della Verzasca (high Verzasca trail). The Via Alta follows the majestic crest of the ridge between Verzasca, Riviera and Leventina, providing experienced mountaineers with a 4/5 day hike through an unspoilt and contrasting landscape. You will pass through the striking low lying areas at the bottom of the valley to the open spaces of the peaks with stunning panoramas, which are home to wild and fascinating flora and fauna. You can also discover some of Ticino’s most beautiful summits, for example Pizzo di Vogorno, balcone del Verbano, Poncione Rosso, majestic and unmistakeable, or Pizzo Barone, Verzasca's highest peak.
difficult
Distance 52.8 km
35:00 h
5,765 m
3,811 m
2,740 m
216 m

The Via Alta progresses along the ridge of smaller valleys – small and precious like forgotten jewels – such as Val della Porta, Val Carecchio, Val Pincascia, Val d’Agro, Val d’Efra and Val Vegornèss. The route (signposted white and blue) does have some aids (steel cables etc.) to help with some of the most difficult parts. That makes it easier, although you should still have good basic mountaineering knowledge, be surefooted, in good physical shape and familiar with alpine weather. The Via Alta della Verzasca has been rated as the first white/blue alpine route with a high level of difficulty in the Alps and is known as one of the most beautiful summit hikes in Switzerland.

The Via Alta starts from the plain (Gordola, Tenero or Cugnasco) or from Vogorno the first village in Verzasca. The two paths take you on quite a climb: 1700 m up from Gordola and 1500 m from Vogorno. When you reach the Borgna mountain hut, where the trek actually starts, you won't have to climb so much (800-1000 m) but each stage still lasts quite long (6-10 hours on average). You can also do the hike from the other end (from Sonogno), although it won't make much difference in terms of time.

Please note: in the event of unforeseen, violent storms the valley streams near the refuges in Borgna, Efra and Cognora can swell very quickly and may be hard to cross; so be on your guard. You may want to wait a few hours in such an event or even turn back.

Profile picture of Mariano Berri
Author
Mariano Berri 
Update: September 27, 2022
Difficulty
difficult
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
2,740 m
Lowest point
216 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Track types

Asphalt 3.44%Path 60.74%Road 0.35%Traces of trail 22.82%Secured trail 12.62%
Asphalt
1.8 km
Path
32.1 km
Road
0.2 km
Traces of trail
12.1 km
Secured trail
6.7 km
Show elevation profile

Rest stops

Mountain hut Borgna
Mountain hut Cornavosa
Mountain hut Fümegna
Mountain hut Efra
Mountain hut Cògnora
Mountain hut Barone

Safety information

ATTENTION!

Level of difficulty

The SEV Società Escursionistica Verzaschese (Verzasca outdoor association) specifies that it is an alpine crossing and not simply a hike: we therefore recommend good training and some experience to negotiate the hardest parts. Via Alta is rated from T4 to T6 in the new classification of the grades of difficulty published by the SAC (Swiss Alpine Club).
T6 - Includes ridges which are very exposed in parts, use of hands required (II° grade maximum).
T5 - Expert hikes with some exposed places.
T4 - Challenging hike.

 

Start

Capanna Borgna
Coordinates:
SwissGrid
2'710'047E 1'115'361N
DD
46.180721, 8.863872
DMS
46°10'50.6"N 8°51'49.9"E
UTM
32T 489493 5114136
w3w 
///rotation.tactical.pythons

Destination

Capanna Barone

Turn-by-turn directions

Capanna Borgna-Capanna Cornavosa-Capanna Efra-Capanna Cognora-Capanna Barone

Coordinates

SwissGrid
2'710'047E 1'115'361N
DD
46.180721, 8.863872
DMS
46°10'50.6"N 8°51'49.9"E
UTM
32T 489493 5114136
w3w 
///rotation.tactical.pythons
Get there by train, car, bike, or on foot!

Author’s map recommendations

Swisstopo: 

1:25.000 Foglio nr. 1313 Bellinzona

1:25.000 Foglio nr. 1293 Osogna

1:25.000 Foglio nr. 1273 Biasca

1:25.000 Foglio nr. 1272 Campo Tencia

Quadraconcept:

1:25.000 Valle Verzasca Tenero

Equipment

Equipment
Alpine equipment is required: good boots and the right clothes (sudden changes in the weather may occur with snowfalls below 2000 metres even in summer). It’s also advisable to carry 20 m of 8 mm rope, two or three clips, a lanyard, webbing and provisions.

Things to remember
- Leave the huts as early as possible (especially for the second and the fourth stage).
- Pay particular attention to the weather forecast, so you can avoid going onto ridges in bad weather or fog.
- Do not underestimate the difficulty of managing a large group.
- If you're unsure, don't do it.
- During heavy storms, beware of materials in the small streams near the mountain huts (they usually return to normal after a few hours).

Similar routes nearby

  • Via Alta Vallemaggia
 These suggestions were generated by our system
Difficulty
difficult
Distance
52.8 km
Duration
35:00 h
Ascent
5,765 m
Descent
3,811 m
Highest point
2,740 m
Lowest point
216 m
Multi-stage route Linear route Scenic Refreshment stops available Flora Fauna Geological highlights Summit route Ridge traverse

Weather at the route's trailhead

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Features
Maps and trails
  • 5 Stages
Mountain Hike · Ascona-Locarno
Via Alta della Verzasca - Stage 1: Gordola-Capanna Borgna hut
recommended route Difficulty difficult Stage 1 closed
Distance 15.7 km
Duration 6:00 h
Ascent 1,128 m
Descent 548 m

You can reach Capanna Borgna hut, the departure point for Via Alta della Verzasca, from Gordola or by taking two alternative routes from Vogorno or ...

from Mariano Berri,   Ascona-Locarno Tourism
Mountain Hike · Ascona-Locarno
Via Alta della Verzasca - Stage 2: Capannna Borgna-Capanna Cornavosa
recommended route Difficulty difficult Stage 2
Distance 8.5 km
Duration 7:00 h
Ascent 1,458 m
Descent 1,047 m

The second stage goes from the hut at Borgna to the Cornavosa hut in 6/8 hours, depending on your physical condition. A route that takes in ...

from Mariano Berri,   Ascona-Locarno Tourism
Mountain Hike · Ascona-Locarno
Via Alta della Verzasca - Stage 3: Capanna Cornavosa-Capanna Efra
recommended route Difficulty difficult Stage 3
Distance 13.2 km
Duration 8:30 h
Ascent 1,300 m
Descent 1,260 m

From Cornavosa you go towards Efra mountain hut, which is about 8 h 30 min walk away. With a difference in altitude of 1300 m, this is one of the ...

from Mariano Berri,   Ascona-Locarno Tourism
Mountain Hike · Ascona-Locarno
Via Alta della Verzasca: Stage 4: Capanna Efra-Capanna Cognora
recommended route Difficulty difficult Stage 4
Distance 8.2 km
Duration 9:00 h
Ascent 1,213 m
Descent 1,314 m

The fourth stage starts at Efra mountain hut and is a 9-hour hike away from Cognora mountain hut. The peaks of Pizzo Cramosina and Madom Gröss are ...

from Mariano Berri,   Ascona-Locarno Tourism
Mountain Hike · Ascona-Locarno
Via Alta della Verzasca - Stage 5: Capanna Cognora-Capanna Barone
recommended route Difficulty difficult Stage 5
Distance 7.3 km
Duration 4:00 h
Ascent 762 m
Descent 531 m

The last stage goes up and down through the peaks, from Cognora mountain hut to the Barone refuge. It lasts about four hours with an altitude ...

from Mariano Berri,   Ascona-Locarno Tourism
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