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The Pale di San Martino Plateau
and its natural beauty

Along the Palaronda trek, you will have the pleasure of immersing yourself in a unique natural environment: in fact, the Plateau of the Pale di San Martino, besides being one of the nine massifs of the Dolomites included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site due to their geological and landscape peculiarities, is part of the Paneveggio – Pale di San Martino Natural Park, an area identified as deserving special environmental protection and conservation.

You will be surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and have the opportunity to explore the integral reserves of the Park, of which the Pale Plateau is a part, where the natural environment is preserved in its integrity. Whether you are hiking through the trails nestled in mountain pastures or contemplating the unique geological formations, every step of your trails will be an unforgettable experience in this extraordinary naturalistic environment.


Exploring the plants of the Dolomites

The Paneveggio – Pale di San Martino Park is home to a diverse flora, distributed over various altitudes, that will be the background to your experience along the Palaronda trails. Between 1,500 and 1,900 meters, impressive spruce trees dominate the landscape, making up approximately 85% of the surrounding vegetation. However, the sad impact of the devastating storm “Vaia” in 2018, which felled millions of trees, and the subsequent invasion of the spruce bark beetle, a small insect that feeds on wood, have unfortunately significantly downsized the presence of the spruce-fir forest. As you go up in elevation, you will encounter larch and stone pine, known locally as “cirmolo”. At the higher elevations of the forest, up to about 2,400 meters, mountain pine and rhododendron thrive. The spruce trees of the Paneveggio forest rise up to 60 meters in height and are famous for their extraordinary resonance ability, a characteristic known since the 16th century to violin makers such as Stradivari, who used this wood to build their prized violins.

Along the Palaronda trails it is possible to dive into the Park’s rich botanical diversity, for example through the Val Venegia, which is in fact home to more than 500 plant species. Among them are some botanical rarities, such as Carinthian Gentian, Tyrolean Primrose, Hausmann’s Androsace, and Depressed Saxifrage. As we rise in elevation among the dolomite rocks, species such as Moretti’s Bellflower and the renowned Edelweiss grow, perennials that thrive in these environments. Pradidali Lake, in the vicinity of the Pradidali Hut, offers a unique spectacle with its cushions of “flowering moss” along the shores, which enrich the Dolomite landscape with their beauty. And finally, the Val Canali, which gives hikers an example of the majestic spruce forest that covers the mountain slopes. For those who wish to learn more about the flora of the Park, the Paneveggio Visitor Center offers thematic trails dedicated to the famous Paneveggio Forest, further enriching the experience of those who complete the Palaronda trekking adventure.


Exciting encounters along the trails

The park is home to a wide range of wildlife. Among mammals, ungulates such as deer and roe deer stand out, while at higher elevations you will find chamois and ibex, which you can spot as you venture onto the Pale Plateau on Palaronda treks. If you happen to observe chamois, if they move in a group it is likely to be females, while males prefer to remain solitary. The symbol of the Alps is traditionally the Alpine Ibex or steinbock, recognizable by its massive horns that can reach up to 1 meter, and its incredible agility. As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon to observe steinbocks climbing vertiginous rocky slopes while hiking Palaronda treks.

Beyond 1,500 meters, you may hear the characteristic whistle of marmots, large rodents that dig communicating tunnel systems where they live. In addition, the park is home to numerous birds, including the grouse, which has disappeared from most Italian forests, and the black grouse or black grouse. Among the superpredators found in the park are the eagle owl and the golden eagle. Extraordinarily beautiful, the golden eagle is a raptor in which females are larger than males, and can reach 2.3 meters in span and weigh close to 7 kilograms. Eagles are not the only birds of prey that frequent the park’s territory: buzzards, honey buzzards, goshawks and sparrowhawks also live here.

Photo Credits: Parco Naturale Paneveggio - Pale di San Martino, Azienda per il Turismo San Martino di Castrozza, Primiero e Vanoi.

The Paneveggio - Pale di San Martino
Natural Park

To protect our ecosystem

The Paneveggio – Pale di San Martino Nature Park is a nature reserve established in 1967 by the Autonomous Province of Trento, a protected area that was created with the aim of protecting and preserving the natural heritage of this area, which is characterized by special environmental interest. The Park currently encompasses the western and southern parts of the Pale di San Martino Massif, the eastern sector of the Lagorai porphyry chain, the forests of Paneveggio, Valzanca, and Valsorda, the area of Calaita Lake, Val Canali, and other areas of the locality. The Park’s activities range from enhancing and maintaining the natural environment, to land regulation, to scientific research and education. The Park has four visitor centers: at Villa Welsperg in Val Canali, in San Martino di Castrozza, in Paneveggio, and at the “Casa del Sentiero Etnografico” in Caoria, in the Vanoi Valley.

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