Stage three of the viaSpluga, the 65 km long classic cultural and long-distance hiking trail, takes you from Splügen to the Splügen Pass and on to Isola via Montespluga and the Cardinello Gorge. The highlights of this stage include the restored historic mule track on the Splügen Pass and the unspoilt romance of the Cardinello Gorge.
The viaSpluga is a cultural and long-distance hiking trail in the central Alps which has linked the peoples of the German, Romansh, French and Italian-speaking regions, as well as the villages of Thusisand Chiavenna. The viaSpluga mainly follows historic mule tracks, whose original structures have largelybeen preserved or restored. The viaSpluga stretches for a total distance of about 65 km.
Stage 3 / Splügen-Isola: Today we reach the culmination point of the tour, the Splügen Pass, which stands at an altitude of 2115 metres. It appeared as a mule track on a Roman military map and was previously called "Colmen d'Orso", which means "Bear Pass". From the 14th century onwards, the Splügen Pass was known as a mule route from southern Germany to the Lombardy lowlands. Transit traffic across the Splügen Pass only declined sharply following the opening of the Gotthard railway in 1882. Travelling via Montespluga and the Cardinello Gorge, which was long regarded as the most hazardous part of the route (it is all well developed nowadays), today's stage ends at the village of Isola.
Today's highlights are, for example, the Marble Bridge along the route of the viaSpluga, the restored historic mule track on the Splügen Pass, the 300 m long avalanche gallery, which was created in 1843 to make the pass accessible in winter, in defiance of the snow and ice. In former times, the romantic Cardinello Gorge was the most notorious section of the Splügen route.
The viaSpluga is marked throughout from Thusis to Chiavenna as regional hiking trail No. 50, as well as with brown viaSpluga signposts.
Stage 3: Splügen–Isola (I): Hike along an Alpine pass on the unique mule track over the Splügen Pass with an exposed descent through the gorge of the Val Cardinello. Setting off from the mountain pass village of Splügen, the trail takes you through larch woods running alongside the Hüschera Stream and then crosses the large car park. Keeping to a track, follow the stream until you reach the main road at the actual Splügen Pass. Veer right at the Marble Bridge and take the hiking trail close to the Hüschera Stream in the direction of Bodmenstafel. After the switchback (pt. 1845), cross the road and then the stream. The path soon leads along carefully assembled cobbles over the Altbäärg and on up to the border. This is definitely the section of the route on which you will experience the most pronounced sense of the old mule track. When you reach the culmination point (alt. 2115 m),the trail continues straight ahead on the cobbled path and crosses a run of bulky rocks. At the Cantoniera, cross the road and follow the trail to Montespluga.The route runs along the right-hand side of the reservoir up to the dam wall, of which you walk along the crest. After the dam, follow the signposts which lead to the mule track through the Cardinello Gorge. The path, which is cut into the rockface in some places, leads to Isola via the hamlets of Soste and Torni.
all notes on protected areas
Southbound by Rhaetian Railway to Thusis and by postbus to Splügen, Post Office. Northbound by rail to Bellinzona and by postbus to Splügen, Post Office. www.rhb.ch www.sbb.ch www.postauto.ch (Switzerland) www.stps.it (Italy)
Southbound on the A13/E43, in the direction of San Bernardino, "Splügen" exit. Northbound on the A13/E43, in the direction of Chur, "Splügen" exit.
Splügen (free parking) - Diagonally opposite the post office - In the direction of the Splügen Pass after the steel arched bridge on the left.
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike
Appropriate, weather-proof equipment is strongly recommended.
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