Corno del Catria (trail No. 29)
Outcrops and the eagle’s kingdom
Total time: 5 hours (including a few stops)
Level: Expert (for experts hikers only)
Difference in altitude: max. 550m
This is one of the most suggestive excursions: A fully exposed route winding up and down on bare rocks shaped by thousands of years of water erosions, overlooking the Gorge of Corno below. Trail No. 29 starts on the left after Valdorbia, on Road No. 326 from Scheggia to Sassoferrato. Before you set out, we recommend a stop at the interesting geological site of Valdorbia. Here, in fact, you can clearly see some beautiful stratification of different layers typical of the geological formations of Umbria and Marche. This is like an open book to understand a 200 million year-old history, from the first deposits of carbonate layers to their subsequent lifting. Particular unusual here is the presence of fossils like corals, ammonites and bivalves. In Valdorbia you can also visit some old mines, in disuse for about 50 years, tunnels dug in the rocks and extending for kilometers to extract marlstone. After this stop, park your car at the beginning of the trail and get ready to start the trail 200m ahead. From here, it is a steep climb to the Corno del Catria. The first stretch winds up for about 1km with a number of sinuous bends gradually ascending until an altitude of 657m. Proceed then along a steep rocky ridge (difference in height is 500m in about 1,5km) leading to the spectacular rocky amphitheater of the Corno del Catria. It is a fully exposed, narrow and hard trail, with steep cliffs on both sides. You walk on a rocky ridge that rises almost vertically in some places, so you need to be extremely careful and take it only in good weather conditions: No wind, rain, fog or mist that could obstruct visibility on a trail which is hard to spot. This is definitely a hard and demanding climb that requires good training and caution, but your efforts will be amply rewarded by the beautiful views along the trail and at the end of it. This is a rocky habitat with small plants and vegetation perched on rock masses or growing between cracks. Of particular importance is the presence of smoketree (Cotinus coggygria) and boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), while in between the rocks you can see shrubs of artemisia (Artemisia vulgaris), rock rose (Heliantemum nummularium), helicrysum (Elycrisum italicum) bellflower (Campanula latifoglia) and common thyme (Timus vulgaris). On the same rocky walls you can observe Ceterach officinalis ferns and numerous saxifrages that expel the limestone absorbed from the substrate through their fleshy leaves, as visible on their white edges. This rocky habitat characterized by steep cliffs is also the ideal habitat for the king eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), which survives here away from the noises and hassles of civilization. If you are lucky, you can spot this majestic bird of prey in the daytime while it oversees its nest or the whole area, which rightly be regarded as its kingdom.
Presence of water: No
Note: this is a particularly hard trail that requires maximum caution and absence of wind, cold, rain and fog.