Established in 1987, the Etna Park is spread over 59 thousand hectares. There are many itineraries proposed suitable for all types of walkers, from the lowest altitudes where the vegetation is green and luxuriant until it touches the summit with the 3,350 meters where ice and cold is the best, especially in winter to have the upper hand. The paths planned to discover and admire historical and recent cones and lava flows, volcanic caves and eruptive systems are really different. One of the most beautiful places in the large park and which develops on the eastern side of Etna, is the itinerary that will take you to the picturesque Valle del Bove. The length is of 5,5 km with a duration of approx. 3 hours.
This path is among the most suggestive paths of the Park but also among the easiest: even the less experienced can approach it without fear. Located on the north east side of Etna, a few hundred meters from the historic Citelli Refuge of the C.A.I., it offers an incredible botanical and geological variety: about 4 kilometers long, it can be covered in about two hours. The starting and finishing point is the forest barrier at the Citelli refuge, Etna north east, at 1,660 meters above sea level. The itinerary offers 6 observation points and allows you to see numerous endemic species such as the Festuca and the Poa (Graminacee), the Tanaceto, the Chamomile, the Spino Santo, the Saponaria and Romice of Etna. The Sartorius Mountains, which take their name from the scholar Sartorius von Walterhausen, are the point of greatest geological interest in the area: born from an imposing lava flow of 1865, they are characterized by the typical "button" alignment of eruptive cones. The flow extends for 8 kilometers and is rough in many areas, due to blocks and sharp edges: this is perhaps the only difficulty point of the route. By choosing this itinerary, you can also admire Monte Frumento delle Cocazze, at 2,151 meters above sea level, one of the largest secondary lava ducts, also called adventitious cones.
Monte Nero degli Zappini
For those who are not an expert walker, this route is ideal: about four kilometers long, it will take 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach the destination. It is the first trekking path made in Sicily in 1991, and has a vertical drop of about 200 meters: walkers start and arrive at the plateau Monte Vetore, southern Etna, at about 1,740 meters above sea level. The route offers 11 observation points, each of which corresponds to particular peculiarities. Although this itinerary does not present particular difficulties, it offers walkers a truly interesting panorama: it crosses recent and ancient lava fields, sliding caves, small woods, hornitos and cannon stones. Hornitos is a Spanish term that means oven fireplace, while cannon stones are a sort of solidified lava envelope attracting to a tree trunk: two typical formations of Etna.
Sentiero Italia – 724 Pietracannone – Cubania
Hikers leave from the houses of Pietracannone, at 1,150 meters above sea level, one of the base points for hiking in the Etna Park: from here they go up along a trazzera, or a dirt road usually used by farm animals, which retains the ancient lava basalt. About 4 kilometers long, the itinerary can be covered in 2 hours and 30 minutes, with a vertical drop of 200 meters. On the way there is a more suggestive niviere, also known as notches of the snow: a large rectangular pit in which the snow was kept and pressed to be brought, during the summer, to the Etna communities thanks to the mules, to make the famous granita Sicilian. Now covered with trees, the slippery part is still visible, in which the people of Catania loaded the balates of snow. The arrival is at the Paternò Castello refuge.
717 Case Pirao – Monte Spagnolo
The route starts at Case Pirao, in the area of the Municipality of Randazzo and is about 10 kilometers long: it can be covered in 5 hours, has a vertical drop of 300 meters. Crossing a wide dirt track, walkers reach the area of Monte Spagnolo, at an altitude of 1,440 meters above sea level: here you can admire the most majestic and centuries-old beech forest of Etna. Numerous hornitos from the 1981 flow were scattered along the route: on that occasion, in fact, the inhabitants of Randazzo had to evacuate the area and the lava arrived very close to the houses of the country. From Monte Spagnolo, you descend towards the Saletti refuge, then, on a track flanked by high gorse, towards the Cisternazza, two hundred meters from the main path.
736 Piano Dei Grilli
The route, which lasts about 15 kilometers, embraces a Site of Community Importance (SIC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA): in fact, it presents remarkable natural features. The name derives from one of its main characteristics: a large presence of crickets and insects in general. Walkers will face a fairly demanding altitude difference, about 800 meters: the route, although not too difficult from a technical point of view, lasts about 7 hours. The starting point is the Casermetta Piano dei Grilli, Etna north east: located on the western side of the volcano, the itinerary reaches altitudes between 1,100 meters above sea level, such as those of the base point n. 6, up to 1,900 meters above sea level on the Almontana slope. The view ranges with wide views of the north-west side of Etna dotted with volcanic cones of various eras and fascinating corners of nature still intact. The environment, touched by numerous lava flows, has developed an important biodiversity: from the oak woods to the areas where the famous Etna broom (Genista aetnensis) grows, up to the rocky points covered by small shrubs of Italian helichrysum, valerian red and milkweed. Numerous birds of prey fly over this area, which, together with the presence of insects, makes this area particularly valuable.
Sentiero Italia – 701 Pista alto montana dell’Etna
A path for true trekking lovers: about 42 kilometers long, walkers will take 3 days to finish the itinerary. The difference in height is not much: about 300 meters. It is also possible to tackle the route by bike: the starting point is the Demanio Forestale Regionale Feliciusa Milia gate, at 1685 meters above sea level, while the arrival point is the Barracks Pitarrone, Pineta Linguaglossa area, at 1421 meters above sea level. of the sea. The excursion to the Pista Altomontana is basically walking around Etna: an experience that will surely remain etched in the traveler's memory. The ring of the Pista, which develops within the State Property, touches average altitudes of 1,750 meters above sea level, bypasses the western and northern slopes of the volcano, offering a cross-section of nature and plant biodiversity of the Etna Park , of its woods, of the ancient and recent lava of the volcano, of its most suggestive panoramas. It is practicable in all seasons of the year, except in winter; with snow and fog, the track must be tackled only by experienced and adequately equipped people. Several shelters managed by the Regional State Forestry Agency are located along the slopes.