We woke up nice and early to catch the train from Verona to Rovereto, which took us just under an hour. Upon arriving in Rovereto, we tried to find our bearings by getting some information from the tourist centre. Realising that hiking from Rovereto wasn’t our best bet for the limited number of hours we had to spend at Lake Garda, we waited for the local bus instead that would take us closer to the lake, by Riva del Garda.
Upon getting dropped off, we headed to the tourist centre there for another shot at trying to figure out the best hike for us to undertake. We finally settled on the popular Ponale Walk, as it offered a good balance for the time we had and the views of the Lake we’d be able to see and experience.
We walked through the small but tourist-filled town of Riva del Garda to head towards the start of the Ponale Trail. The starting point of the trail is just past the old hydroelectric power station of Riva del Garda.
The Ponale Trail is probably the most well-known and popular trail in Lake Garda. Always keen to get away from the crowds, I wasn’t mad keen on this trail, but it’s actually a great one to undertake – the views it offers of Lake Garda are surely unparalleled. The trail is graded “easy”, and there’s no real need for any specific hiking equipment. The one slightly annoying thing about this trail for a hiker is that it doubles as a mountain biking trail. You therefore need to keep a sharp awareness for potential bikers coming round the corners at all times, and also be ready for the dust thrown up behind them.
The first part of the hike brings you to Belvedere, where a small hillside cafe is located. It makes for a great pitstop and the views of the lake and waterfalls beyond are just beautiful. From here, you can choose to continue onwards via one of two paths. The left road will take you towards the next town, Pregasina, whereas the right one continues to Valle di Ledro and Lake Ledro.
We started heading down the right path, but changed our minds after about 30 minutes as we didn’t want to be too late in catching the bus and train back to Verona.
Looking back at our day by the lake, what were my thoughts on Lake Garda? Honestly? Slightly disappointing. Sure, the lake itself was beautiful, but the town of Riva del Garda just seemed rather stale, in the buildings, atmosphere and folks we saw milling about the town. We might have had a better experience, had we maybe chosen another town around Lake Garda to have made our base, or had we had more time to take on a more secluded hiking trail.
Will we return? Most probably not… but I’m at least glad to have been able to finally visit Lake Garda and experience it first-hand.