The path Valle dei Mulini is an interesting path for the fossil-bearing layers of Valle dei Mulini and the Grotta dei Darden ( Dardens Cave ) named after the hawks once nesting there. It’s also interesting for the forges in Prato S. Pietro which are a witness of the ancient origin of the iron industry in the area of Valsassina.
The whole way can be covered in three and a half hours with a 1316 m ascending drop which mainly develops through the woods. For non-trained trekkers we suggest to walk only the initial part going to the cave. The wilderness and the coolness of the place are not to miss ( time needed : approx. 1 hour ).
From Prato San Pietro ( 506 m ) in the municipality of Cortenova go up until the junction located after the Carlini’s Forge and continue up along the mule trail going to Valle dei Mulini.
The trail runs along the river , among wooden bridges and walkways , now to the right then to the left , until the hydroelectric plant.
In about 30 minutes the Qualac Canyon is reached. From there continue along the river , rich in waterfalls , until reaching a junction nearby a huge boulder on the river bank ( time needed : 45 minutes ). On the right a detour claims up to the Dardens’ cave in approx. 20 minutes. The high ceiling vault is full of visible and lit concretions well worth a visit.
If willing to continue go back to the detour leading to the cave. The trail climbs up along the wooded side with view over the rocky walls excavated by the waters and then continues through the wood itself. After approx. one and a half hour the path starts getting almost flat going towards the bottom of Valle dei Mulini. Pass a canyon from where the Frate and Monaca rocky peaks can be seen. Start going back up through the wood along a steep path then again along the Ave Maria coast until reaching a signpost where several paths join ( time needed : approx. 3 hours and 15 min. from the start ). Leave at the top left the traces leading to the Moncodeno Glacier then take the mule trail on the left going to Cainallo , heading towards Alpe di Moncodeno ( 1685 m ) and Bogani mountain hut ( 1822 m ).
Photo credits: Franco Sironi